Infomotions, Inc.Rainbow Valley / Montgomery, L. M. (Lucy Maud), 1874-1942



Author: Montgomery, L. M. (Lucy Maud), 1874-1942
Title: Rainbow Valley
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): meredith; miss cornelia; rosemary; manse; cornelia; carl; ellen; blythe; jerry; mary vance; susan; mary; rainbow valley; glen; john meredith; aunt martha; norman douglas; walter; rainbow; norman; faith; manse children; alec davis; anne; rosemary west; ann
Contributor(s): Schlegel, August Wilhelm, 1767-1845 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 81,928 words (short) Grade range: 6-8 (grade school) Readability score: 74 (easy)
Identifier: etext5343
Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

Discover what books you consider "great". Take the Great Books Survey.

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Rainbow Valley, by Lucy Maud Montgomery
#11 in our series by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing
this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.

This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project
Gutenberg file.  Please do not remove it.  Do not change or edit the
header without written permission.

Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the
eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of this file.  Included is
important information about your specific rights and restrictions in
how the file may be used.  You can also find out about how to make a
donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.


**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**

**eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971**

*****These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****


Title: Rainbow Valley

Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery

Release Date: March, 2004 [EBook #5343]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on July 3, 2002]

Edition: 10

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK RAINBOW VALLEY ***




This book has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK
Initiative at the Celebration of Women Writers through the
combined work of Bernard J. Farber, Carmen Baxter, Dona Rucci,
Elizabeth Morton, Rebekah Neely, Joe Johnson, Joan Chovan, Judith
Fetterolf, Mary Nuzzo, Sally Drake, Sally Starks, Steve Callis,
Virginia Mohlere-Dellinger and Mary Mark Ockerbloom.

http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/

Reformatted by Ben Crowder <crowderb@blankslate.net>
http://www.blankslate.net/lang/etexts.php



RAINBOW VALLEY

By L. M. MONTGOMERY

Author of "Anne of Green Gables," "Anne of the Island," "Anne's
House of Dreams," "The Story Girl," "The Watchman," etc.

"The thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."
--LONGFELLOW

TO THE MEMORY OF

GOLDWIN LAPP, ROBERT BROOKES
AND MORLEY SHIER

WHO MADE THE SUPREME SACRIFICE
THAT THE HAPPY VALLEYS OF THEIR HOME LAND
MIGHT BE KEPT SACRED FROM
THE RAVAGE OF THE INVADER



CONTENTS

      I. Home Again
     II. Sheer Gossip
    III. The Ingleside Children
     IV. The Manse Children
      V. The Advent of Mary Vanse
     VI. Mary Stays at the Manse
    VII. A Fishy Episode
   VIII. Miss Cornelia Intervenes
     IX. Una Intervenes
      X. The Manse Girls Clean House
     XI. A Dreadful Discovery
    XII. An Explanation and a Dare
   XIII. The House on the Hill
    XIV. Mrs. Alec Davis Makes a Call
     XV. More Gossip
    XVI. Tit for Tat
   XVII. A Double Victory
  XVIII. Mary Brings Evil Tidings
    XIX. Poor Adam!
     XX. Faith Makes a Friend
    XXI. The Impossible Word
   XXII. St. George Knows All About It
  XXIII. The Good-Conduct Club
   XXIV. A Charitable Impulse
    XXV. Another Scandal and Another "Explanation"
   XXVI. Miss Cornelia Gets a New Point of View
  XXVII. A Sacred Concert
 XXVIII. A Fast Day
   XXIX. A Weird Tale
    XXX. The Ghost on the Dyke
   XXXI. Carl Does Penance
  XXXII. Two Stubborn People
 XXXIII. Carl Is--not--whipped
  XXXIV. Una Visits the Hill
   XXXV. "Let the Piper Come"



RAINBOW VALLEY



CHAPTER I. HOME AGAIN

It was a clear, apple-green evening in May, and Four Winds
Harbour was mirroring back the clouds of the golden west between
its softly dark shores.  The sea moaned eerily on the sand-bar,
sorrowful even in spring, but a sly, jovial wind came piping down
the red harbour road along which Miss Cornelia's comfortable,
matronly figure was making its way towards the village of Glen
St. Mary.  Miss Cornelia was rightfully Mrs. Marshall Elliott, and
had been Mrs. Marshall Elliott for thirteen years, but even yet
more people referred to her as Miss Cornelia than as Mrs.
Elliott.  The old name was dear to her old friends, only one of
them contemptuously dropped it.  Susan Baker, the gray and grim
and faithful handmaiden of the Blythe family at Ingleside, never
lost an opportunity of calling her "Mrs. Marshall Elliott," with
the most killing and pointed emphasis, as if to say "You wanted
to be Mrs. and Mrs. you shall be with a vengeance as far as I am
concerned."

Miss Cornelia was going up to Ingleside to see Dr. and Mrs.
Blythe, who were just home from Europe.  They had been away for
three months, having left in February to attend a famous medical
congress in London; and certain things, which Miss Cornelia was
anxious to discuss, had taken place in the Glen during their
absence.  For one thing, there was a new family in the manse.
And such a family!  Miss Cornelia shook her head over them several
times as she walked briskly along.

Susan Baker and the Anne Shirley of other days saw her coming, as
they sat on the big veranda at Ingleside, enjoying the charm of
the cat's light, the sweetness of sleepy robins whistling among
the twilit maples, and the dance of a gusty group of daffodils
blowing against the old, mellow, red brick wall of the lawn.

Anne was sitting on the steps, her hands clasped over her knee,
looking, in the kind dusk, as girlish as a mother of many has any
right to be; and the beautiful gray-green eyes, gazing down the
harbour road, were as full of unquenchable sparkle and dream as
ever.  Behind her, in the hammock, Rilla Blythe was curled up, a
fat, roly-poly little creature of six years, the youngest of the
Ingleside children.  She had curly red hair and hazel eyes that
were now buttoned up after the funny, wrinkled fashion in which
Rilla always went to sleep.

Shirley, "the little brown boy," as he was known in the family
"Who's Who," was asleep in Susan's arms.  He was brown-haired,
brown-eyed and brown-skinned, with very rosy cheeks, and he was
Susan's especial love.  After his birth Anne had been very ill
for a long time, and Susan "mothered" the baby with a passionate
tenderness which none of the other children, dear as they were to
her, had ever called out.  Dr. Blythe had said that but for her
he would never have lived.

"I gave him life just as much as you did, Mrs. Dr. dear," Susan
was wont to say.  "He is just as much my baby as he is yours."
And, indeed, it was always to Susan that Shirley ran, to be
kissed for bumps, and rocked to sleep, and protected from
well-deserved spankings.  Susan had conscientiously spanked all
the other Blythe children when she thought they needed it for
their souls' good, but she would not spank Shirley nor allow his
mother to do it.  Once, Dr. Blythe had spanked him and Susan had
been stormily indignant.

"That man would spank an angel, Mrs. Dr. dear, that he would,"
she had declared bitterly; and she would not make the poor doctor
a pie for weeks.

She had taken Shirley with her to her brother's home during his
parents' absence, while all the other children had gone to
Avonlea, and she had three blessed months of him all to herself.
Nevertheless, Susan was very glad to find herself back at
Ingleside, with all her darlings around her again.  Ingleside was
her world and in it she reigned supreme.  Even Anne seldom
questioned her decisions, much to the disgust of Mrs. Rachel
Lynde of Green Gables, who gloomily told Anne, whenever she
visited Four Winds, that she was letting Susan get to be entirely
too much of a boss and would live to rue it.

"Here is Cornelia Bryant coming up the harbour road, Mrs. Dr.
dear," said Susan.  "She will be coming up to unload three
months' gossip on us."

"I hope so," said Anne, hugging her knees.  "I'm starving for
Glen St. Mary gossip, Susan.  I hope Miss Cornelia can tell me
everything that has happened while we've been away--EVERYTHING--
who has got born, or married, or drunk; who has died, or gone
away, or come, or fought, or lost a cow, or found a beau.  It's
so delightful to be home again with all the dear Glen folks, and
I want to know all about them.  Why, I remember wondering, as I
walked through Westminster Abbey which of her two especial beaux
Millicent Drew would finally marry.  Do you know, Susan, I have a
dreadful suspicion that I love gossip."

"Well, of course, Mrs. Dr. dear," admitted Susan, "every proper
woman likes to hear the news.  I am rather interested in
Millicent Drew's case myself.  I never had a beau, much less two,
and I do not mind now, for being an old maid does not hurt when
you get used to it.  Millicent's hair always looks to me as if
she had swept it up with a broom.  But the men do not seem to
mind that."

"They see only her pretty, piquant, mocking, little face, Susan."

"That may very well be, Mrs. Dr. dear.  The Good Book says that
favour is deceitful and beauty is vain, but I should not have
minded finding that out for myself, if it had been so ordained.
I have no doubt we will all be beautiful when we are angels, but
what good will it do us then?  Speaking of gossip, however, they
do say that poor Mrs. Harrison Miller over harbour tried to hang
herself last week."

"Oh, Susan!"

"Calm yourself, Mrs. Dr. dear.  She did not succeed.  But I
really do not blame her for trying, for her husband is a terrible
man.  But she was very foolish to think of hanging herself and
leaving the way clear for him to marry some other woman.  If I
had been in her shoes, Mrs. Dr. dear, I would have gone to work
to worry him so that he would try to hang himself instead of me.
Not that I hold with people hanging themselves under any
circumstances, Mrs. Dr. dear."

"What is the matter with Harrison Miller, anyway?" said Anne
impatiently.  "He is always driving some one to extremes."

"Well, some people call it religion and some call it cussedness,
begging your pardon, Mrs. Dr. dear, for using such a word.  It
seems they cannot make out which it is in Harrison's case.  There
are days when he growls at everybody because he thinks he is
fore-ordained to eternal punishment.  And then there are days
when he says he does not care and goes and gets drunk.  My own
opinion is that he is not sound in his intellect, for none of
that branch of the Millers were.  His grandfather went out of his
mind.  He thought he was surrounded by big black spiders.  They
crawled over him and floated in the air about him.  I hope I
shall never go insane, Mrs. Dr. dear, and I do not think I will,
because it is not a habit of the Bakers.  But, if an all-wise
Providence should decree it, I hope it will not take the form of
big black spiders, for I loathe the animals.  As for Mrs. Miller,
I do not know whether she really deserves pity or not.  There are
some who say she just married Harrison to spite Richard Taylor,
which seems to me a very peculiar reason for getting married.
But then, of course, _I_ am no judge of things matrimonial, Mrs.
Dr. dear.  And there is Cornelia Bryant at the gate, so I will
put this blessed brown baby on his bed and get my knitting."



CHAPTER II. SHEER GOSSIP

"Where are the other children?" asked Miss Cornelia, when the
first greetings--cordial on her side, rapturous on Anne's, and
dignified on Susan's--were over.

"Shirley is in bed and Jem and Walter and the twins are down in
their beloved Rainbow Valley," said Anne.  "They just came home
this afternoon, you know, and they could hardly wait until supper
was over before rushing down to the valley.  They love it above
every spot on earth.  Even the maple grove doesn't rival it in
their affections."

"I am afraid they love it too well," said Susan gloomily.
"Little Jem said once he would rather go to Rainbow Valley than
to heaven when he died, and that was not a proper remark."

"I suppose they had a great time in Avonlea?" said Miss Cornelia.

"Enormous.  Marilla does spoil them terribly.  Jem, in
particular, can do no wrong in her eyes."

"Miss Cuthbert must be an old lady now," said Miss Cornelia,
getting out her knitting, so that she could hold her own with
Susan.  Miss Cornelia held that the woman whose hands were
employed always had the advantage over the woman whose hands were
not.

"Marilla is eighty-five," said Anne with a sigh.  "Her hair is
snow-white.  But, strange to say, her eyesight is better than it
was when she was sixty."

"Well, dearie, I'm real glad you're all back.  I've been dreadful
lonesome.  But we haven't been dull in the Glen, believe ME.
There hasn't been such an exciting spring in my time, as far as
church matters go.  We've got settled with a minister at last,
Anne dearie."

"The Reverend John Knox Meredith, Mrs. Dr. dear," said Susan,
resolved not to let Miss Cornelia tell all the news.

"Is he nice?" asked Anne interestedly.

Miss Cornelia sighed and Susan groaned.

"Yes, he's nice enough if that were all," said the former.  "He
is VERY nice--and very learned--and very spiritual.  But, oh Anne
dearie, he has no common sense!

"How was it you called him, then?"

"Well, there's no doubt he is by far the best preacher we ever
had in Glen St. Mary church," said Miss Cornelia, veering a tack
or two.  "I suppose it is because he is so moony and
absent-minded that he never got a town call.  His trial sermon
was simply wonderful, believe ME.  Every one went mad about it--
and his looks."

"He is VERY comely, Mrs. Dr. dear, and when all is said and done,
I DO like to see a well-looking man in the pulpit," broke in
Susan, thinking it was time she asserted herself again.

"Besides," said Miss Cornelia, "we were anxious to get settled.
And Mr. Meredith was the first candidate we were all agreed on.
Somebody had some objection to all the others.  There was some
talk of calling Mr. Folsom.  He was a good preacher, too, but
somehow people didn't care for his appearance.  He was too dark
and sleek."

"He looked exactly like a great black tomcat, that he did, Mrs.
Dr. dear," said Susan.  "I never could abide such a man in the
pulpit every Sunday."

"Then Mr. Rogers came and he was like a chip in porridge--neither
harm nor good," resumed Miss Cornelia.  "But if he had preached
like Peter and Paul it would have profited him nothing, for that
was the day old Caleb Ramsay's sheep strayed into church and gave
a loud 'ba-a-a' just as he announced his text.  Everybody
laughed, and poor Rogers had no chance after that.  Some thought
we ought to call Mr. Stewart, because he was so well educated.
He could read the New Testament in five languages."

"But I do not think he was any surer than other men of getting to
heaven because of that," interjected Susan.

"Most of us didn't like his delivery," said Miss Cornelia,
ignoring Susan.  "He talked in grunts, so to speak.  And Mr.
Arnett couldn't preach AT ALL.  And he picked about the worst
candidating text there is in the Bible--'Curse ye Meroz.'"

"Whenever he got stuck for an idea, he would bang the Bible and
shout very bitterly, 'Curse ye Meroz.'  Poor Meroz got thoroughly
cursed that day, whoever he was, Mrs. Dr. dear," said Susan.

"The minister who is candidating can't be too careful what text
he chooses," said Miss Cornelia solemnly.  "I believe Mr. Pierson
would have got the call if he had picked a different text.  But
when he announced 'I will lift my eyes to the hills' HE was done
for.  Every one grinned, for every one knew that those two Hill
girls from the Harbour Head have been setting their caps for
every single minister who came to the Glen for the last fifteen
years.  And Mr. Newman had too large a family."

"He stayed with my brother-in-law, James Clow," said Susan.  "'How
many children have you got?' I asked him.  'Nine boys and a
sister for each of them,' he said.  'Eighteen!' said I.  'Dear
me, what a family!'  And then he laughed and laughed.  But I do
not know why, Mrs. Dr. dear, and I am certain that eighteen
children would be too many for any manse."

"He had only ten children, Susan," explained Miss Cornelia, with
contemptuous patience.  "And ten good children would not be much
worse for the manse and congregation than the four who are there
now.  Though I wouldn't say, Anne dearie, that they are so bad,
either.  I like them--everybody likes them.  It's impossible to
help liking them.  They would be real nice little souls if there
was anyone to look after their manners and teach them what is
right and proper.  For instance, at school the teacher says they
are model children.  But at home they simply run wild."

"What about Mrs. Meredith?" asked Anne.

"There's NO Mrs. Meredith.  That is just the trouble.  Mr.
Meredith is a widower.  His wife died four years ago.  If we had
known that I don't suppose we would have called him, for a
widower is even worse in a congregation than a single man.  But
he was heard to speak of his children and we all supposed there
was a mother, too.  And when they came there was nobody but old
Aunt Martha, as they call her.  She's a cousin of Mr. Meredith's
mother, I believe, and he took her in to save her from the
poorhouse.  She is seventy-five years old, half blind, and very
deaf and very cranky."

"And a very poor cook, Mrs. Dr. dear."

"The worst possible manager for a manse," said Miss Cornelia
bitterly.  "Mr. Meredith won't get any other housekeeper because
he says it would hurt Aunt Martha's feelings.  Anne dearie,
believe me, the state of that manse is something terrible.
Everything is thick with dust and nothing is ever in its place.
And we had painted and papered it all so nice before they came."

"There are four children, you say?" asked Anne, beginning to
mother them already in her heart.

"Yes.  They run up just like the steps of a stair.  Gerald's the
oldest.  He's twelve and they call him Jerry.  He's a clever boy.
Faith is eleven.  She is a regular tomboy but pretty as a
picture, I must say."

"She looks like an angel but she is a holy terror for mischief,
Mrs. Dr. dear," said Susan solemnly.  "I was at the manse one
night last week and Mrs. James Millison was there, too.  She had
brought them up a dozen eggs and a little pail of milk--a VERY
little pail, Mrs. Dr. dear.  Faith took them and whisked down the
cellar with them.  Near the bottom of the stairs she caught her
toe and fell the rest of the way, milk and eggs and all.  You can
imagine the result, Mrs. Dr. dear.  But that child came up
laughing.  'I don't know whether I'm myself or a custard pie,'
she said.  And Mrs. James Millison was very angry.  She said she
would never take another thing to the manse if it was to be
wasted and destroyed in that fashion."

"Maria Millison never hurt herself taking things to the manse,"
sniffed Miss Cornelia.  "She just took them that night as an
excuse for curiosity.  But poor Faith is always getting into
scrapes.  She is so heedless and impulsive."

"Just like me.  I'm going to like your Faith," said Anne
decidedly.

"She is full of spunk--and I do like spunk, Mrs. Dr. dear,"
admitted Susan.

"There's something taking about her," conceded Miss Cornelia.
"You never see her but she's laughing, and somehow it always
makes you want to laugh too.  She can't even keep a straight face
in church.  Una is ten--she's a sweet little thing--not pretty,
but sweet.  And Thomas Carlyle is nine.  They call him Carl, and
he has a regular mania for collecting toads and bugs and frogs
and bringing them into the house."

"I suppose he was responsible for the dead rat that was lying on
a chair in the parlour the afternoon Mrs. Grant called.  It gave
her a turn," said Susan, "and I do not wonder, for manse parlours
are no places for dead rats.  To be sure it may have been the cat
who left it, there.  HE is as full of the old Nick as he can be
stuffed, Mrs. Dr. dear.  A manse cat should at least LOOK
respectable, in my opinion, whatever he really is.  But I never
saw such a rakish-looking beast.  And he walks along the
ridgepole of the manse almost every evening at sunset, Mrs. Dr.
dear, and waves his tail, and that is not becoming."

"The worst of it is, they are NEVER decently dressed," sighed
Miss Cornelia.  "And since the snow went they go to school
barefooted.  Now, you know Anne dearie, that isn't the right
thing for manse children--especially when the Methodist
minister's little girl always wears such nice buttoned boots.
And I DO wish they wouldn't play in the old Methodist graveyard."

"It's very tempting, when it's right beside the manse," said
Anne.  "I've always thought graveyards must be delightful places
to play in."

"Oh, no, you did not, Mrs. Dr. dear," said loyal Susan,
determined to protect Anne from herself.  "You have too much good
sense and decorum."

"Why did they ever build that manse beside the graveyard in the
first place?" asked Anne.  "Their lawn is so small there is no
place for them to play except in the graveyard."

"It WAS a mistake," admitted Miss Cornelia.  "But they got the
lot cheap.  And no other manse children ever thought of playing
there.  Mr. Meredith shouldn't allow it.  But he has always got
his nose buried in a book, when he is home.  He reads and reads,
or walks about in his study in a day-dream.  So far he hasn't
forgotten to be in church on Sundays, but twice he has forgotten
about the prayer-meeting and one of the elders had to go over to
the manse and remind him.  And he forgot about Fanny Cooper's
wedding.  They rang him up on the 'phone and then he rushed right
over, just as he was, carpet slippers and all.  One wouldn't mind
if the Methodists didn't laugh so about it.  But there's one
comfort--they can't criticize his sermons.  He wakes up when he's
in the pulpit, believe ME.  And the Methodist minister can't
preach at all--so they tell me.  _I_ have never heard him, thank
goodness."

Miss Cornelia's scorn of men had abated somewhat since her
marriage, but her scorn of Methodists remained untinged of
charity.  Susan smiled slyly.

"They do say, Mrs. Marshall Elliott, that the Methodists and
Presbyterians are talking of uniting," she said.

"Well, all I hope is that I'll be under the sod if that ever
comes to pass," retorted Miss Cornelia.  "I shall never have
truck or trade with Methodists, and Mr. Meredith will find that
he'd better steer clear of them, too.  He is entirely too
sociable with them, believe ME.  Why, he went to the Jacob Drews'
silver-wedding supper and got into a nice scrape as a result."

"What was it?"

"Mrs. Drew asked him to carve the roast goose--for Jacob Drew
never did or could carve.  Well, Mr. Meredith tackled it, and in
the process he knocked it clean off the platter into Mrs. Reese's
lap, who was sitting next him.  And he just said dreamily.  'Mrs.
Reese, will you kindly return me that goose?'  Mrs. Reese
'returned' it, as meek as Moses, but she must have been furious,
for she had on her new silk dress.  The worst of it is, she was a
Methodist."

"But I think that is better than if she was a Presbyterian,"
interjected Susan.  "If she had been a Presbyterian she would
mostly likely have left the church and we cannot afford to lose
our members.  And Mrs. Reese is not liked in her own church,
because she gives herself such great airs, so that the Methodists
would be rather pleased that Mr. Meredith spoiled her dress."

"The point is, he made himself ridiculous, and _I_, for one, do
not like to see my minister made ridiculous in the eyes of the
Methodists," said Miss Cornelia stiffly.  "If he had had a wife
it would not have happened."

"I do not see if he had a dozen wives how they could have
prevented Mrs. Drew from using up her tough old gander for the
wedding-feast," said Susan stubbornly.

"They say that was her husband's doing," said Miss Cornelia.
"Jacob Drew is a conceited, stingy, domineering creature."

"And they do say he and his wife detest each other--which does
not seem to me the proper way for married folks to get along.
But then, of course, I have had no experience along that line,"
said Susan, tossing her head.  "And _I_ am not one to blame
everything on the men.  Mrs. Drew is mean enough herself.  They
say that the only thing she was ever known to give away was a
crock of butter made out of cream a rat had fell into.  She
contributed it to a church social. Nobody found out about the rat
until afterwards."

"Fortunately, all the people the Merediths have offended so far
are Methodists," said Miss Cornelia.  "That Jerry went to the
Methodist prayer-meeting one night about a fortnight ago and sat
beside old William Marsh who got up as usual and testified with
fearful groans.  'Do you feel any better now?" whispered Jerry
when William sat down.  Poor Jerry meant to be sympathetic, but
Mr. Marsh thought he was impertinent and is furious at him.  Of
course, Jerry had no business to be in a Methodist prayer-meeting
at all.  But they go where they like."

"I hope they will not offend Mrs. Alec Davis of the Harbour
Head," said Susan.  "She is a very touchy woman, I understand,
but she is very well off and pays the most of any one to the
salary.  I have heard that she says the Merediths are the worst
brought up children she ever saw."

"Every word you say convinces me more and more that the Merediths
belong to the race that knows Joseph," said Mistress Anne
decidedly.

"When all is said and done, they DO," admitted Miss Cornelia.
"And that balances everything.  Anyway, we've got them now and we
must just do the best we can by them and stick up for them to the
Methodists.  Well, I suppose I must be getting down harbour.
Marshall will soon be home--he went over-harbour to-day--and
wanting his super, man-like.  I'm sorry I haven't seen the other
children.  And where's the doctor?"

"Up at the Harbour Head.  We've only been home three days and in
that time he has spent three hours in his own bed and eaten two
meals in his own house."

"Well, everybody who has been sick for the last six weeks has
been waiting for him to come home--and I don't blame them.  When
that over-harbour doctor married the undertaker's daughter at
Lowbridge people felt suspicious of him.  It didn't look well.
You and the doctor must come down soon and tell us all about your
trip.  I suppose you've had a splendid time."

"We had," agreed Anne.  "It was the fulfilment of years of
dreams.  The old world is very lovely and very wonderful.  But we
have come back very well satisfied with our own land.  Canada is
the finest country in the world, Miss Cornelia."

"Nobody ever doubted that," said Miss Cornelia, complacently.

"And old P.E.I. is the loveliest province in it and Four Winds
the loveliest spot in P.E.I.," laughed Anne, looking adoringly
out over the sunset splendour of glen and harbour and gulf.  She
waved her hand at it.  "I saw nothing more beautiful than that in
Europe, Miss Cornelia.  Must you go?  The children will be sorry
to have missed you."

"They must come and see me soon.  Tell them the doughnut jar is
always full."

"Oh, at supper they were planning a descent on you.  They'll go
soon; but they must settle down to school again now.  And the
twins are going to take music lessons."

"Not from the Methodist minister's wife, I hope?" said Miss
Cornelia anxiously.

"No--from Rosemary West.  I was up last evening to arrange it
with her.  What a pretty girl she is!"

"Rosemary holds her own well.  She isn't as young as she once
was."

"I thought her very charming.  I've never had any real
acquaintance with her, you know.  Their house is so out of the
way, and I've seldom ever seen her except at church."

"People always have liked Rosemary West, though they don't
understand her," said Miss Cornelia, quite unconscious of the
high tribute she was paying to Rosemary's charm.  "Ellen has
always kept her down, so to speak.  She has tyrannized over her,
and yet she has always indulged her in a good many ways.
Rosemary was engaged once, you know--to young Martin Crawford.
His ship was wrecked on the Magdalens and all the crew were
drowned.  Rosemary was just a child--only seventeen.  But she was
never the same afterwards.  She and Ellen have stayed very close
at home since their mother's death.  They don't often get to
their own church at Lowbridge and I understand Ellen doesn't
approve of going too often to a Presbyterian church.  To the
Methodist she NEVER goes, I'll say that much for her.  That
family of Wests have always been strong Episcopalians.  Rosemary
and Ellen are pretty well off.  Rosemary doesn't really need to
give music lessons.  She does it because she likes to.  They are
distantly related to Leslie, you know.  Are the Fords coming to
the harbour this summer?"

"No.  They are going on a trip to Japan and will probably be away
for a year.  Owen's new novel is to have a Japanese setting.
This will be the first summer that the dear old House of Dreams
will be empty since we left it."

"I should think Owen Ford might find enough to write about in
Canada without dragging his wife and his innocent children off to
a heathen country like Japan," grumbled Miss Cornelia.  "_The
Life Book_ was the best book he's ever written and he got the
material for that right here in Four Winds."

"Captain Jim gave him the most of that, you know.  And he
collected it all over the world.  But Owen's books are all
delightful, I think."

"Oh, they're well enough as far as they go.  I make it a point to
read every one he writes, though I've always held, Anne dearie,
that reading novels is a sinful waste of time.  I shall write and
tell him my opinion of this Japanese business, believe ME.  Does
he want Kenneth and Persis to be converted into pagans?"

With which unanswerable conundrum Miss Cornelia took her
departure.  Susan proceeded to put Rilla in bed and Anne sat on
the veranda steps under the early stars and dreamed her
incorrigible dreams and learned all over again for the hundredth
happy time what a moonrise splendour and sheen could be on Four
Winds Harbour.



CHAPTER III. THE INGLESIDE CHILDREN

In daytime the Blythe children liked very well to play in the
rich, soft greens and glooms of the big maple grove between
Ingleside and the Glen St. Mary pond; but for evening revels
there was no place like the little valley behind the maple grove.
It was a fairy realm of romance to them.  Once, looking from the
attic windows of Ingleside, through the mist and aftermath of a
summer thunderstorm, they had seen the beloved spot arched by a
glorious rainbow, one end of which seemed to dip straight down to
where a corner of the pond ran up into the lower end of the
valley.

"Let us call it Rainbow Valley," said Walter delightedly, and
Rainbow Valley thenceforth it was.

Outside of Rainbow Valley the wind might be rollicking and
boisterous.  Here it always went gently.  Little, winding, fairy
paths ran here and there over spruce roots cushioned with moss.
Wild cherry trees, that in blossom time would be misty white,
were scattered all over the valley, mingling with the dark
spruces.  A little brook with amber waters ran through it from
the Glen village.  The houses of the village were comfortably far
away; only at the upper end of the valley was a little
tumble-down, deserted cottage, referred to as "the old Bailey
house."  It had not been occupied for many years, but a
grass-grown dyke surrounded it and inside was an ancient garden
where the Ingleside children could find violets and daisies and
June lilies still blooming in season.  For the rest, the garden
was overgrown with caraway that swayed and foamed in the
moonshine of summer eves like seas of silver.

To the sought lay the pond and beyond it the ripened distance
lost itself in purple woods, save where, on a high hill, a
solitary old gray homestead looked down on glen and harbour.
There was a certain wild woodsiness and solitude about Rainbow
Valley, in spite of its nearness to the village, which endeared
it to the children of Ingleside.

The valley was full of dear, friendly hollows and the largest of
these was their favourite stamping ground.  Here they were
assembled on this particular evening.  There was a grove of young
spruces in this hollow, with a tiny, grassy glade in its heart,
opening on the bank of the brook.  By the brook grew a silver
birch-tree, a young, incredibly straight thing which Walter had
named the "White Lady."  In this glade, too, were the "Tree
Lovers," as Walter called a spruce and maple which grew so
closely together that their boughs were inextricably intertwined.
Jem had hung an old string of sleigh-bells, given him by the Glen
blacksmith, on the Tree Lovers, and every visitant breeze called
out sudden fairy tinkles from it.

"How nice it is to be back!" said Nan.  "After all, none of the
Avonlea places are quite as nice as Rainbow Valley."

But they were very fond of the Avonlea places for all that.  A
visit to Green Gables was always considered a great treat.  Aunt
Marilla was very good to them, and so was Mrs. Rachel Lynde, who
was spending the leisure of her old age in knitting cotton-warp
quilts against the day when Anne's daughters should need a
"setting-out."  There were jolly playmates there, too--"Uncle"
Davy's children and "Aunt" Diana's children.  They knew all the
spots their mother had loved so well in her girlhood at old Green
Gables--the long Lover's Lane, that was pink-hedged in wild-rose
time, the always neat yard, with its willows and poplars, the
Dryad's Bubble, lucent and lovely as of yore, the Lake of Shining
Waters, and Willowmere.  The twins had their mother's old
porch-gable room, and Aunt Marilla used to come in at night, when
she thought they were asleep, to gloat over them.  But they all
knew she loved Jem the best.

Jem was at present busily occupied in frying a mess of small
trout which he had just caught in the pond.  His stove consisted
of a circle of red stones, with a fire kindled in it, and his
culinary utensils were an old tin can, hammered out flat, and a
fork with only one tine left.  Nevertheless, ripping good meals
had before now been thus prepared.

Jem was the child of the House of Dreams.  All the others had
been born at Ingleside.  He had curly red hair, like his
mother's, and frank hazel eyes, like his father's; he had his
mother's fine nose and his father's steady, humorous mouth.  And
he was the only one of the family who had ears nice enough to
please Susan.  But he had a standing feud with Susan because she
would not give up calling him Little Jem.  It was outrageous,
thought thirteen-year-old Jem.  Mother had more sense.

"I'm NOT little any more, Mother," he had cried indignantly, on
his eighth birthday.  "I'm AWFUL big."

Mother had sighed and laughed and sighed again; and she never
called him Little Jem again--in his hearing at least.

He was and always had been a sturdy, reliable little chap.  He
never broke a promise.  He was not a great talker.  His teachers
did not think him brilliant, but he was a good, all-round
student.  He never took things on faith; he always liked to
investigate the truth of a statement for himself.  Once Susan had
told him that if he touched his tongue to a frosty latch all the
skin would tear off it.  Jem had promptly done it, "just to see
if it was so."  He found it was "so," at the cost of a very sore
tongue for several days.  But Jem did not grudge suffering in the
interests of science.  By constant experiment and observation he
learned a great deal and his brothers and sisters thought his
extensive knowledge of their little world quite wonderful.  Jem
always knew where the first and ripest berries grew, where the
first pale violets shyly wakened from their winter's sleep, and
how many blue eggs were in a given robin's nest in the maple
grove.  He could tell fortunes from daisy petals and suck honey
from red clovers, and grub up all sorts of edible roots on the
banks of the pond, while Susan went in daily fear that they would
all be poisoned.  He knew where the finest spruce-gum was to be
found, in pale amber knots on the lichened bark, he knew where
the nuts grew thickest in the beechwoods around the Harbour Head,
and where the best trouting places up the brooks were.  He could
mimic the call of any wild bird or beast in Four Winds and he
knew the haunt of every wild flower from spring to autumn.

Walter Blythe was sitting under the White Lady, with a volume of
poems lying beside him, but he was not reading.  He was gazing
now at the emerald-misted willows by the pond, and now at a flock
of clouds, like little silver sheep, herded by the wind, that
were drifting over Rainbow Valley, with rapture in his wide
splendid eyes.  Walter's eyes were very wonderful.  All the joy
and sorrow and laughter and loyalty and aspiration of many
generations lying under the sod looked out of their dark gray
depths.

Walter was a "hop out of kin," as far as looks went.  He did not
resemble any known relative.  He was quite the handsomest of the
Ingleside children, with straight black hair and finely modelled
features.  But he had all his mother's vivid imagination and
passionate love of beauty.  Frost of winter, invitation of
spring, dream of summer and glamour of autumn, all meant much to
Walter.

In school, where Jem was a chieftain, Walter was not thought
highly of.  He was supposed to be "girly" and milk-soppish,
because he never fought and seldom joined in the school sports,
preferring to herd by himself in out of the way corners and read
books--especially "po'try books."  Walter loved the poets and
pored over their pages from the time he could first read.  Their
music was woven into his growing soul--the music of the
immortals.  Walter cherished the ambition to be a poet himself
some day.  The thing could be done.  A certain Uncle Paul--so
called out of courtesy--who lived now in that mysterious realm
called "the States," was Walter's model.  Uncle Paul had once
been a little school boy in Avonlea and now his poetry was read
everywhere.  But the Glen schoolboys did not know of Walter's
dreams and would not have been greatly impressed if they had.  In
spite of his lack of physical prowess, however, he commanded a
certain unwilling respect because of his power of "talking book
talk."  Nobody in Glen St. Mary school could talk like him.  He
"sounded like a preacher," one boy said; and for this reason he
was generally left alone and not persecuted, as most boys were
who were suspected of disliking or fearing fisticuffs.

The ten year old Ingleside twins violated twin tradition by not
looking in the least alike.  Anne, who was always called Nan, was
very pretty, with velvety nut-brown eyes and silky nut-brown
hair.  She was a very blithe and dainty little maiden--Blythe by
name and blithe by nature, one of her teachers had said.  Her
complexion was quite faultless, much to her mother's
satisfaction.

"I'm so glad I have one daughter who can wear pink," Mrs. Blythe
was wont to say jubilantly.

Diana Blythe, known as Di, was very like her mother, with
gray-green eyes that always shone with a peculiar lustre and
brilliancy in the dusk, and red hair.  Perhaps this was why she
was her father's favourite.  She and Walter were especial chums;
Di was the only one to whom he would ever read the verses he
wrote himself--the only one who knew that he was secretly hard at
work on an epic, strikingly resembling "Marmion" in some things,
if not in others.  She kept all his secrets, even from Nan, and
told him all hers.

"Won't you soon have those fish ready, Jem?" said Nan, sniffing
with her dainty nose.  "The smell makes me awfully hungry."

"They're nearly ready," said Jem, giving one a dexterous turn.
"Get out the bread and the plates, girls.  Walter, wake up."

"How the air shines to-night," said Walter dreamily.  Not that he
despised fried trout either, by any means; but with Walter food
for the soul always took first place.  "The flower angel has been
walking over the world to-day, calling to the flowers.  I can see
his blue wings on that hill by the woods."

"Any angels' wings I ever saw were white," said Nan.

"The flower angel's aren't.  They are a pale misty blue, just
like the haze in the valley.  Oh, how I wish I could fly.  It
must be glorious."

"One does fly in dreams sometimes," said Di.

"I never dream that I'm flying exactly," said Walter.  "But I
often dream that I just rise up from the ground and float over
the fences and the trees.  It's delightful--and I always think,
'This ISN'T a dream like it's always been before. THIS is
real'--and then I wake up after all, and it's heart-breaking."

"Hurry up, Nan," ordered Jem.

Nan had produced the banquet-board--a board literally as well as
figuratively--from which many a feast, seasoned as no viands were
elsewhere, had been eaten in Rainbow Valley.  It was converted
into a table by propping it on two large, mossy stones.
Newspapers served as tablecloth, and broken plates and handleless
cups from Susan's discard furnished the dishes.  From a tin box
secreted at the root of a spruce tree Nan brought forth bread and
salt.  The brook gave Adam's ale of unsurpassed crystal.  For the
rest, there was a certain sauce, compounded of fresh air and
appetite of youth, which gave to everything a divine flavour.  To
sit in Rainbow Valley, steeped in a twilight half gold, half
amethyst, rife with the odours of balsam-fir and woodsy growing
things in their springtime prime, with the pale stars of wild
strawberry blossoms all around you, and with the sough of the
wind and tinkle of bells in the shaking tree tops, and eat fried
trout and dry bread, was something which the mighty of earth
might have envied them.

"Sit in," invited Nan, as Jem placed his sizzling tin platter of
trout on the table.  "It's your turn to say grace, Jem."

"I've done my part frying the trout," protested Jem, who hated
saying grace.  "Let Walter say it.  He LIKES saying grace.  And
cut it short, too, Walt.  I'm starving."

But Walter said no grace, short or long, just then.  An
interruption occurred.

"Who's coming down from the manse hill?" said Di.



CHAPTER IV. THE MANSE CHILDREN

Aunt Martha might be, and was, a very poor housekeeper; the Rev.
John Knox Meredith might be, and was, a very absent-minded,
indulgent man.  But it could not be denied that there was
something very homelike and lovable about the Glen St. Mary manse
in spite of its untidiness.  Even the critical housewives of the
Glen felt it, and were unconsciously mellowed in judgment because
of it.  Perhaps its charm was in part due to accidental
circumstances--the luxuriant vines clustering over its gray,
clap-boarded walls, the friendly acacias and balm-of-gileads that
crowded about it with the freedom of old acquaintance, and the
beautiful views of harbour and sand-dunes from its front windows.
But these things had been there in the reign of Mr. Meredith's
predecessor, when the manse had been the primmest, neatest, and
dreariest house in the Glen.  So much of the credit must be given
to the personality of its new inmates.  There was an atmosphere
of laughter and comradeship about it; the doors were always open;
and inner and outer worlds joined hands.  Love was the only law
in Glen St. Mary manse.

The people of his congregation said that Mr. Meredith spoiled his
children.  Very likely he did.  It is certain that he could not
bear to scold them.  "They have no mother," he used to say to
himself, with a sigh, when some unusually glaring peccadillo
forced itself upon his notice.  But he did not know the half of
their goings-on.  He belonged to the sect of dreamers.  The
windows of his study looked out on the graveyard but, as he paced
up and down the room, reflecting deeply on the immortality of the
soul, he was quite unaware that Jerry and Carl were playing
leap-frog hilariously over the flat stones in that abode of dead
Methodists.  Mr. Meredith had occasional acute realizations that
his children were not so well looked after, physically or
morally, as they had been before his wife died, and he had always
a dim sub-consciousness that house and meals were very different
under Aunt Martha's management from what they had been under
Cecilia's.  For the rest, he lived in a world of books and
abstractions; and, therefore, although his clothes were seldom
brushed, and although the Glen housewives concluded, from the
ivory-like pallor of his clear-cut features and slender hands,
that he never got enough to eat, he was not an unhappy man.

If ever a graveyard could be called a cheerful place, the old
Methodist graveyard at Glen St. Mary might be so called.  The new
graveyard, at the other side of the Methodist church, was a neat
and proper and doleful spot; but the old one had been left so
long to Nature's kindly and gracious ministries that it had
become very pleasant.

It was surrounded on three sides by a dyke of stones and sod,
topped by a gray and uncertain paling.  Outside the dyke grew a
row of tall fir trees with thick, balsamic boughs.  The dyke,
which had been built by the first settlers of the Glen, was old
enough to be beautiful, with mosses and green things growing out
of its crevices, violets purpling at its base in the early spring
days, and asters and golden-rod making an autumnal glory in its
corners.  Little ferns clustered companionably between its
stones, and here and there a big bracken grew.

On the eastern side there was neither fence nor dyke.  The
graveyard there straggled off into a young fir plantation, ever
pushing nearer to the graves and deepening eastward into a thick
wood.  The air was always full of the harp-like voices of the
sea, and the music of gray old trees, and in the spring mornings
the choruses of birds in the elms around the two churches sang of
life and not of death.  The Meredith children loved the old
graveyard.

Blue-eyed ivy, "garden-spruce," and mint ran riot over the sunken
graves.  Blueberry bushes grew lavishly in the sandy corner next
to the fir wood.  The varying fashions of tombstones for three
generations were to be found there, from the flat, oblong, red
sandstone slabs of old settlers, down through the days of weeping
willows and clasped hands, to the latest monstrosities of tall
"monuments" and draped urns.  One of the latter, the biggest and
ugliest in the graveyard, was sacred to the memory of a certain
Alec Davis who had been born a Methodist but had taken to himself
a Presbyterian bride of the Douglas clan.  She had made him turn
Presbyterian and kept him toeing the Presbyterian mark all his
life.  But when he died she did not dare to doom him to a lonely
grave in the Presbyterian graveyard over-harbour.  His people
were all buried in the Methodist cemetery; so Alec Davis went
back to his own in death and his widow consoled herself by
erecting a monument which cost more than any of the Methodists
could afford.  The Meredith children hated it, without just
knowing why, but they loved the old, flat, bench-like stones with
the tall grasses growing rankly about them.  They made jolly
seats for one thing.  They were all sitting on one now.  Jerry,
tired of leap frog, was playing on a jew's-harp.  Carl was
lovingly poring over a strange beetle he had found; Una was
trying to make a doll's dress, and Faith, leaning back on her
slender brown wrists, was swinging her bare feet in lively time
to the jew's-harp.

Jerry had his father's black hair and large black eyes, but in
him the latter were flashing instead of dreamy.  Faith, who came
next to him, wore her beauty like a rose, careless and glowing.
She had golden-brown eyes, golden-brown curls and crimson cheeks.
She laughed too much to please her father's congregation and had
shocked old Mrs. Taylor, the disconsolate spouse of several
departed husbands, by saucily declaring--in the church-porch at
that--"The world ISN'T a vale of tears, Mrs. Taylor.  It's a
world of laughter."

Little dreamy Una was not given to laughter.  Her braids of
straight, dead-black hair betrayed no lawless kinks, and her
almond-shaped, dark-blue eyes had something wistful and sorrowful
in them.  Her mouth had a trick of falling open over her tiny
white teeth, and a shy, meditative smile occasionally crept over
her small face.  She was much more sensitive to public opinion
than Faith, and had an uneasy consciousness that there was
something askew in their way of living.  She longed to put it
right, but did not know how.  Now and then she dusted the
furniture--but it was so seldom she could find the duster because
it was never in the same place twice.  And when the clothes-brush
was to be found she tried to brush her father's best suit on
Saturdays, and once sewed on a missing button with coarse white
thread.  When Mr. Meredith went to church next day every female
eye saw that button and the peace of the Ladies' Aid was upset
for weeks.

Carl had the clear, bright, dark-blue eyes, fearless and direct,
of his dead mother, and her brown hair with its glints of gold.
He knew the secrets of bugs and had a sort of freemasonry with
bees and beetles.  Una never liked to sit near him because she
never knew what uncanny creature might be secreted about him.
Jerry refused to sleep with him because Carl had once taken a
young garter snake to bed with him; so Carl slept in his old cot,
which was so short that he could never stretch out, and had
strange bed-fellows.  Perhaps it was just as well that Aunt
Martha was half blind when she made that bed.  Altogether they
were a jolly, lovable little crew, and Cecilia Meredith's heart
must have ached bitterly when she faced the knowledge that she
must leave them.

"Where would you like to be buried if you were a Methodist?"
asked Faith cheerfully.

This opened up an interesting field of speculation.

"There isn't much choice.  The place is full," said Jerry.  "I'D
like that corner near the road, I guess.  I could hear the teams
going past and the people talking."

"I'd like that little hollow under the weeping birch," said Una.
"That birch is such a place for birds and they sing like mad in
the mornings."

"I'd take the Porter lot where there's so many children buried.
_I_ like lots of company," said Faith.  "Carl, where'd you?"

"I'd rather not be buried at all," said Carl, "but if I had to be
I'd like the ant-bed.  Ants are AWF'LY int'resting."

"How very good all the people who are buried here must have
been," said Una, who had been reading the laudatory old epitaphs.
"There doesn't seem to be a single bad person in the whole
graveyard.  Methodists must be better than Presbyterians after
all."

"Maybe the Methodists bury their bad people just like they do
cats," suggested Carl.  "Maybe they don't bother bringing them to
the graveyard at all."

"Nonsense," said Faith.  "The people that are buried here weren't
any better than other folks, Una.  But when anyone is dead you
mustn't say anything of him but good or he'll come back and ha'nt
you.  Aunt Martha told me that.  I asked father if it was true
and he just looked through me and muttered, 'True?  True?  What
is truth?  What IS truth, O jesting Pilate?'  I concluded from
that it must be true."

"I wonder if Mr. Alec Davis would come back and ha'nt me if I
threw a stone at the urn on top of his tombstone," said Jerry.

"Mrs. Davis would," giggled Faith.  "She just watches us in
church like a cat watching mice.  Last Sunday I made a face at
her nephew and he made one back at me and you should have seen
her glare.  I'll bet she boxed HIS ears when they got out.  Mrs.
Marshall Elliott told me we mustn't offend her on any account or
I'd have made a face at her, too!"

"They say Jem Blythe stuck out his tongue at her once and she
would never have his father again, even when her husband was
dying," said Jerry.  "I wonder what the Blythe gang will be
like."

"I liked their looks," said Faith.  The manse children had been
at the station that afternoon when the Blythe small fry had
arrived.  "I liked Jem's looks ESPECIALLY."

"They say in school that Walter's a sissy," said Jerry.

"I don't believe it," said Una, who had thought Walter very
handsome.

"Well, he writes poetry, anyhow.  He won the prize the teacher
offered last year for writing a poem, Bertie Shakespeare Drew
told me.  Bertie's mother thought HE should have got the prize
because of his name, but Bertie said he couldn't write poetry to
save his soul, name or no name."

"I suppose we'll get acquainted with them as soon as they begin
going to school," mused Faith.  "I hope the girls are nice.  I
don't like most of the girls round here.  Even the nice ones are
poky.  But the Blythe twins look jolly.  I thought twins always
looked alike, but they don't.  I think the red-haired one is the
nicest."

"I liked their mother's looks," said Una with a little sigh.  Una
envied all children their mothers.  She had been only six when
her mother died, but she had some very precious memories,
treasured in her soul like jewels, of twilight cuddlings and
morning frolics, of loving eyes, a tender voice, and the
sweetest, gayest laugh.

"They say she isn't like other people," said Jerry.

"Mrs. Elliot says that is because she never really grew up," said
Faith.

"She's taller than Mrs. Elliott."

"Yes, yes, but it is inside--Mrs. Elliot says Mrs. Blythe just
stayed a little girl inside."

"What do I smell?" interrupted Carl, sniffing.

They all smelled it now.  A most delectable odour came floating
up on the still evening air from the direction of the little
woodsy dell below the manse hill.

"That makes me hungry," said Jerry.

"We had only bread and molasses for supper and cold ditto for
dinner," said Una plaintively.

Aunt Martha's habit was to boil a large slab of mutton early in
the week and serve it up every day, cold and greasy, as long as
it lasted.  To this Faith, in a moment of inspiration, had give
the name of "ditto", and by this it was invariably known at the
manse.

"Let's go and see where that smell is coming from," said Jerry.

They all sprang up, frolicked over the lawn with the abandon of
young puppies, climbed a fence, and tore down the mossy slope,
guided by the savory lure that ever grew stronger.  A few minutes
later they arrived breathlessly in the sanctum sanctorum of
Rainbow Valley where the Blythe children were just about to give
thanks and eat.

They halted shyly.  Una wished they had not been so precipitate:
but Di Blythe was equal to that and any occasion.  She stepped
forward, with a comrade's smile.

"I guess I know who you are," she said.  "You belong to the
manse, don't you?"

Faith nodded, her face creased by dimples.

"We smelled your trout cooking and wondered what it was."

"You must sit down and help us eat them," said Di.

"Maybe you haven't more than you want yourselves," said Jerry,
looking hungrily at the tin platter.

"We've heaps--three apiece," said Jem.  "Sit down."

No more ceremony was necessary.  Down they all sat on mossy
stones.  Merry was that feast and long.  Nan and Di would
probably have died of horror had they known what Faith and Una
knew perfectly well--that Carl had two young mice in his jacket
pocket.  But they never knew it, so it never hurt them. Where can
folks get better acquainted than over a meal table?  When the
last trout had vanished, the manse children and the Ingleside
children were sworn friends and allies.  They had always known
each other and always would.  The race of Joseph recognized its
own.

They poured out the history of their little pasts.  The manse
children heard of Avonlea and Green Gables, of Rainbow Valley
traditions, and of the little house by the harbour shore where
Jem had been born.  The Ingleside children heard of Maywater,
where the Merediths had lived before coming to the Glen, of Una's
beloved, one-eyed doll and Faith's pet rooster.

Faith was inclined to resent the fact that people laughed at her
for petting a rooster.  She liked the Blythes because they
accepted it without question.

"A handsome rooster like Adam is just as nice a pet as a dog or
cat, _I_ think," she said.  "If he was a canary nobody would
wonder.  And I brought him up from a little, wee, yellow chicken.
Mrs. Johnson at Maywater gave him to me.  A weasel had killed all
his brothers and sisters.  I called him after her husband.  I
never liked dolls or cats.  Cats are too sneaky and dolls are
DEAD."

"Who lives in that house away up there?" asked Jerry.

"The Miss Wests--Rosemary and Ellen," answered Nan.  "Di and I
are going to take music lessons from Miss Rosemary this summer."

Una gazed at the lucky twins with eyes whose longing was too
gentle for envy.  Oh, if she could only have music lessons!  It
was one of the dreams of her little hidden life.  But nobody ever
thought of such a thing.

"Miss Rosemary is so sweet and she always dresses so pretty,"
said Di.  "Her hair is just the colour of new molasses taffy,"
she added wistfully--for Di, like her mother before her, was not
resigned to her own ruddy tresses.

"I like Miss Ellen, too," said Nan.  "She always used to give me
candies when she came to church.  But Di is afraid of her."

"Her brows are so black and she has such a great deep voice,"
said Di.  "Oh, how scared of her Kenneth Ford used to be when he
was little!  Mother says the first Sunday Mrs. Ford brought him
to church Miss Ellen happened to be there, sitting right behind
them.  And the minute Kenneth saw her he just screamed and
screamed until Mrs. Ford had to carry him out."

"Who is Mrs. Ford?" asked Una wonderingly.

"Oh, the Fords don't live here.  They only come here in the
summer.  And they're not coming this summer.  They live in that
little house 'way, 'way down on the harbour shore where father
and mother used to lie.  I wish you could see Persis Ford.  She
is just like a picture."

"I've heard of Mrs. Ford," broke in Faith.  "Bertie Shakespeare
Drew told me about her.  She was married fourteen years to a dead
man and then he came to life."

"Nonsense," said Nan.  "That isn't the way it goes at all.
Bertie Shakespeare can never get anything straight.  I know the
whole story and I'll tell it to you some time, but not now, for
it's too long and it's time for us to go home.  Mother doesn't
like us to be out late these damp evenings."

Nobody cared whether the manse children were out in the damp or
not.  Aunt Martha was already in bed and the minister was still
too deeply lost in speculations concerning the immortality of the
soul to remember the mortality of the body.  But they went home,
too, with visions of good times coming in their heads.

"I think Rainbow Valley is even nicer than the graveyard," said
Una.  "And I just love those dear Blythes.  It's SO nice when you
can love people because so often you CAN'T.  Father said in his
sermon last Sunday that we should love everybody.  But how can
we?  How could we love Mrs. Alec Davis?"

"Oh, father only said that in the pulpit," said Faith airily.
"He has more sense than to really think it outside."

The Blythe children went up to Ingleside, except Jem, who slipped
away for a few moments on a solitary expedition to a remote
corner of Rainbow Valley.  Mayflowers grew there and Jem never
forgot to take his mother a bouquet as long as they lasted.



CHAPTER V. THE ADVENT OF MARY VANCE

"This is just the sort of day you feel as if things might
happen," said Faith, responsive to the lure of crystal air and
blue hills.  She hugged herself with delight and danced a
hornpipe on old Hezekiah Pollock's bench tombstone, much to the
horror of two ancient maidens who happened to be driving past
just as Faith hopped on one foot around the stone, waving the
other and her arms in the air.

"And that," groaned one ancient maiden, "is our minister's
daughter."

"What else could you expect of a widower's family?" groaned the
other ancient maiden.  And then they both shook their heads.

It was early on Saturday morning and the Merediths were out in
the dew-drenched world with a delightful consciousness of the
holiday.  They had never had anything to do on a holiday.  Even
Nan and Di Blythe had certain household tasks for Saturday
mornings, but the daughters of the manse were free to roam from
blushing morn to dewy eve if so it pleased them.  It DID please
Faith, but Una felt a secret, bitter humiliation because they
never learned to do anything.  The other girls in her class at
school could cook and sew and knit; she only was a little
ignoramus.

Jerry suggested that they go exploring; so they went lingeringly
through the fir grove, picking up Carl on the way, who was on his
knees in the dripping grass studying his darling ants.  Beyond
the grove they came out in Mr. Taylor's pasture field, sprinkled
over with the white ghosts of dandelions; in a remote corner was
an old tumbledown barn, where Mr. Taylor sometimes stored his
surplus hay crop but which was never used for any other purpose.
Thither the Meredith children trooped, and prowled about the
ground floor for several minutes.

"What was that?" whispered Una suddenly.

They all listened.  There was a faint but distinct rustle in the
hayloft above.  The Merediths looked at each other.

"There's something up there," breathed Faith.

"I'm going up to see what it is," said Jerry resolutely.

"Oh, don't," begged Una, catching his arm.

"I'm going."

"We'll all go, too, then," said Faith.

The whole four climbed the shaky ladder, Jerry and Faith quite
dauntless, Una pale from fright, and Carl rather absent-mindedly
speculating on the possibility of finding a bat up in the loft.
He longed to see a bat in daylight.

When they stepped off the ladder they saw what had made the
rustle and the sight struck them dumb for a few moments.

In a little nest in the hay a girl was curled up, looking as if
she had just wakened from sleep.  When she saw them she stood up,
rather shakily, as it seemed, and in the bright sunlight that
streamed through the cobwebbed window behind her, they saw that
her thin, sunburned face was very pale under its tan.  She had
two braids of lank, thick, tow-coloured hair and very odd
eyes--"white eyes," the manse children thought, as she stared at
them half defiantly, half piteously.  They were really of so pale
a blue that they did seem almost white, especially when
contrasted with the narrow black ring that circled the iris.  She
was barefooted and bareheaded, and was clad in a faded, ragged,
old plaid dress, much too short and tight for her.  As for years,
she might have been almost any age, judging from her wizened
little face, but her height seemed to be somewhere in the
neighbourhood of twelve.

"Who are you?" asked Jerry.

The girl looked about her as if seeking a way of escape.  Then
she seemed to give in with a little shiver of despair.

"I'm Mary Vance," she said.

"Where'd you come from?" pursued Jerry.

Mary, instead of replying, suddenly sat, or fell, down on the hay
and began to cry.  Instantly Faith had flung herself down beside
her and put her arm around the thin, shaking shoulders.

"You stop bothering her," she commanded Jerry.  Then she hugged
the waif.  "Don't cry, dear.  Just tell us what's the matter.
WE'RE friends."

"I'm so--so--hungry," wailed Mary.  "I--I hain't had a thing to
eat since Thursday morning, 'cept a little water from the brook
out there."

The manse children gazed at each other in horror.  Faith sprang
up.

"You come right up to the manse and get something to eat before
you say another word."

Mary shrank.

"Oh--I can't.  What will your pa and ma say?  Besides, they'd
send me back."

"We've no mother, and father won't bother about you.  Neither
will Aunt Martha.  Come, I say."  Faith stamped her foot
impatiently.  Was this queer girl going to insist on starving to
death almost at their very door?

Mary yielded.  She was so weak that she could hardly climb down
the ladder, but somehow they got her down and over the field and
into the manse kitchen.  Aunt Martha, muddling through her
Saturday cooking, took no notice of her.  Faith and Una flew to
the pantry and ransacked it for such eatables as it
contained--some "ditto," bread, butter, milk and a doubtful pie.
Mary Vance attacked the food ravenously and uncritically, while
the manse children stood around and watched her.  Jerry noticed
that she had a pretty mouth and very nice, even, white teeth.
Faith decided, with secret horror, that Mary had not one stitch
on her except that ragged, faded dress.  Una was full of pure
pity, Carl of amused wonder, and all of them of curiosity.

"Now come out to the graveyard and tell us about yourself,"
ordered Faith, when Mary's appetite showed signs of failing her.
Mary was now nothing loath.  Food had restored her natural
vivacity and unloosed her by no means reluctant tongue.

"You won't tell your pa or anybody if I tell you?" she
stipulated, when she was enthroned on Mr. Pollock's tombstone.
Opposite her the manse children lined up on another.  Here was
spice and mystery and adventure.  Something HAD happened.

"No, we won't."

"Cross your hearts?"

"Cross our hearts."

"Well, I've run away.  I was living with Mrs. Wiley over-harbour.
Do you know Mrs. Wiley?"

"No."

"Well, you don't want to know her.  She's an awful woman.  My,
how I hate her!  She worked me to death and wouldn't give me half
enough to eat, and she used to larrup me 'most every day.  Look
a-here."

Mary rolled up her ragged sleeves, and held up her scrawny arms
and thin hands, chapped almost to rawness.  They were black with
bruises.  The manse children shivered.  Faith flushed crimson
with indignation.  Una's blue eyes filled with tears.

"She licked me Wednesday night with a stick," said Mary,
indifferently.  "It was 'cause I let the cow kick over a pail of
milk.  How'd I know the darn old cow was going to kick?"

A not unpleasant thrill ran over her listeners.  They would never
dream of using such dubious words, but it was rather titivating
to hear someone else use them--and a girl, at that.  Certainly
this Mary Vance was an interesting creature.

"I don't blame you for running away," said Faith.

"Oh, I didn't run away 'cause she licked me.  A licking was all
in the day's work with me.  I was darn well used to it.  Nope,
I'd meant to run away for a week 'cause I'd found out that Mrs.
Wiley was going to rent her farm and go to Lowbridge to live and
give me to a cousin of hers up Charlottetown way.  I wasn't going
to stand for THAT.  She was a worse sort than Mrs. Wiley even.
Mrs. Wiley lent me to her for a month last summer and I'd rather
live with the devil himself."

Sensation number two.  But Una looked doubtful.

"So I made up my mind I'd beat it.  I had seventy cents saved up
that Mrs. John Crawford give me in the spring for planting
potatoes for her.  Mrs. Wiley didn't know about it.  She was
away visiting her cousin when I planted them.  I thought I'd
sneak up here to the Glen and buy a ticket to Charlottetown and
try to get work there.  I'm a hustler, let me tell you.  There
ain't a lazy bone in MY body.  So I lit out Thursday morning
'fore Mrs. Wiley was up and walked to the Glen--six miles.  And
when I got to the station I found I'd lost my money.  Dunno
how--dunno where.  Anyhow, it was gone.  I didn't know what to
do.  If I went back to old Lady Wiley she'd take the hide off me.
So I went and hid in that old barn."

"And what will you do now?" asked Jerry.

"Dunno.  I s'pose I'll have to go back and take my medicine.  Now
that I've got some grub in my stomach I guess I can stand it."

But there was fear behind the bravado in Mary's eyes.  Una
suddenly slipped from the one tombstone to the other and put her
arm about Mary.

"Don't go back.  Just stay here with us."

"Oh, Mrs. Wiley'll hunt me up," said Mary.  "It's likely she's on
my trail before this.  I might stay here till she finds me, I
s'pose, if your folks don't mind.  I was a darn fool ever to
think of skipping out.  She'd run a weasel to earth.  But I was
so misrebul."

Mary's voice quivered, but she was ashamed of showing her
weakness.

"I hain't had the life of a dog for these four years," she
explained defiantly.

"You've been four years with Mrs. Wiley?"

"Yip.  She took me out of the asylum over in Hopetown when I was
eight."

"That's the same place Mrs. Blythe came from," exclaimed Faith.

"I was two years in the asylum.  I was put there when I was six.
My ma had hung herself and my pa had cut his throat."

"Holy cats!  Why?" said Jerry.

"Booze," said Mary laconically.

"And you've no relations?"

"Not a darn one that I know of.  Must have had some once, though.
I was called after half a dozen of them.  My full name is Mary
Martha Lucilla Moore Ball Vance.  Can you beat that?  My
grandfather was a rich man.  I'll bet he was richer than YOUR
grandfather.  But pa drunk it all up and ma, she did her part.
THEY used to beat me, too.  Laws, I've been licked so much I kind
of like it."

Mary tossed her head.  She divined that the manse children were
pitying her for her many stripes and she did not want pity.  She
wanted to be envied.  She looked gaily about her.  Her strange
eyes, now that the dullness of famine was removed from them, were
brilliant.  She would show these youngsters what a personage she
was.

"I've been sick an awful lot," she said proudly.  "There's not
many kids could have come through what I have.  I've had scarlet
fever and measles and ersipelas and mumps and whooping cough and
pewmonia."

"Were you ever fatally sick?" asked Una.

"I don't know," said Mary doubtfully.

"Of course she wasn't," scoffed Jerry.  "If you're fatally sick
you die."

"Oh, well, I never died exactly," said Mary, "but I come blamed
near it once.  They thought I was dead and they were getting
ready to lay me out when I up and come to."

"What is it like to be half dead?" asked Jerry curiously.

"Like nothing.  I didn't know it for days afterwards.  It was
when I had the pewmonia.  Mrs. Wiley wouldn't have the
doctor--said she wasn't going to no such expense for a home girl.
Old Aunt Christina MacAllister nursed me with poultices.  She
brung me round.  But sometimes I wish I'd just died the other
half and done with it.  I'd been better off."

"If you went to heaven I s'pose you would," said Faith, rather
doubtfully.

"Well, what other place is there to go to?" demanded Mary in a
puzzled voice.

"There's hell, you know," said Una, dropping her voice and
hugging Mary to lessen the awfulness of the suggestion.

"Hell?  What's that?"

"Why, it's where the devil lives," said Jerry.  "You've heard of
him--you spoke about him."

"Oh, yes, but I didn't know he lived anywhere.  I thought he just
roamed round.  Mr. Wiley used to mention hell when he was alive.
He was always telling folks to go there.  I thought it was some
place over in New Brunswick where he come from."

"Hell is an awful place," said Faith, with the dramatic enjoyment
that is born of telling dreadful things.  "Bad people go there
when they die and burn in fire for ever and ever and ever."

"Who told you that?" demanded Mary incredulously.

"It's in the Bible.  And Mr. Isaac Crothers at Maywater told us,
too, in Sunday School.  He was an elder and a pillar in the
church and knew all about it.  But you needn't worry.  If you're
good you'll go to heaven and if you're bad I guess you'd rather
go to hell."

"I wouldn't," said Mary positively.  "No matter how bad I was I
wouldn't want to be burned and burned.  _I_ know what it's like.
I picked up a red hot poker once by accident.  What must you do
to be good?"

"You must go to church and Sunday School and read your Bible and
pray every night and give to missions," said Una.

"It sounds like a large order," said Mary.  "Anything else?"

"You must ask God to forgive the sins you've committed.

"But I've never com--committed any," said Mary.  "What's a sin
any way?"

"Oh, Mary, you must have.  Everybody does.  Did you never tell a
lie?"

"Heaps of 'em," said Mary.

"That's a dreadful sin," said Una solemnly.

"Do you mean to tell me," demanded Mary, "that I'd be sent to
hell for telling a lie now and then?  Why, I HAD to.  Mr. Wiley
would have broken every bone in my body one time if I hadn't told
him a lie.  Lies have saved me many a whack, I can tell you."

Una sighed.  Here were too many difficulties for her to solve.
She shuddered as she thought of being cruelly whipped.  Very
likely she would have lied too.  She squeezed Mary's little
calloused hand.

"Is that the only dress you've got?" asked Faith, whose joyous
nature refused to dwell on disagreeable subjects.

"I just put on this dress because it was no good," cried Mary
flushing.  "Mrs. Wiley'd bought my clothes and I wasn't going to
be beholden to her for anything.  And I'm honest.  If I was going
to run away I wasn't going to take what belong to HER that was
worth anything.  When I grow up I'm going to have a blue sating
dress.  Your own clothes don't look so stylish.  I thought
ministers' children were always dressed up."

It was plain that Mary had a temper and was sensitive on some
points.  But there was a queer, wild charm about her which
captivated them all.  She was taken to Rainbow Valley that
afternoon and introduced to the Blythes as "a friend of ours from
over-harbour who is visiting us."  The Blythes accepted her
unquestioningly, perhaps because she was fairly respectable now.
After dinner--through which Aunt Martha had mumbled and Mr.
Meredith had been in a state of semi-unconsciousness while
brooding his Sunday sermon--Faith had prevailed on Mary to put on
one of her dresses, as well as certain other articles of
clothing.  With her hair neatly braided Mary passed muster
tolerably well.  She was an acceptable playmate, for she knew
several new and exciting games, and her conversation lacked not
spice.  In fact, some of her expressions made Nan and Di look at
her rather askance.  They were not quite sure what their mother
would have thought of her, but they knew quite well what Susan
would.  However, she was a visitor at the manse, so she must be
all right.

When bedtime came there was the problem of where Mary should
sleep.

"We can't put her in the spare room, you know," said Faith
perplexedly to Una.

"I haven't got anything in my head," cried Mary in an injured
tone.

"Oh, I didn't mean THAT," protested Faith.  "The spare room is
all torn up.  The mice have gnawed a big hole in the feather tick
and made a nest in it.  We never found it out till Aunt Martha
put the Rev. Mr. Fisher from Charlottetown there to sleep last
week.  HE soon found it out.  Then father had to give him his bed
and sleep on the study lounge.  Aunt Martha hasn't had time to
fix the spare room bed up yet, so she says; so NOBODY can sleep
there, no matter how clean their heads are.  And our room is so
small, and the bed so small you can't sleep with us."

"I can go back to the hay in the old barn for the night if you'll
lend me a quilt," said Mary philosophically.  "It was kind of
chilly last night, but 'cept for that I've had worse beds."

"Oh, no, no, you mustn't do that," said Una.  "I've thought of a
plan, Faith.  You know that little trestle bed in the garret
room, with the old mattress on it, that the last minister left
there?  Let's take up the spare room bedclothes and make Mary a
bed there.  You won't mind sleeping in the garret, will you,
Mary?  It's just above our room."

"Any place'll do me.  Laws, I never had a decent place to sleep
in my life.  I slept in the loft over the kitchen at Mrs.
Wiley's.  The roof leaked rain in the summer and the snow druv in
in winter.  My bed was a straw tick on the floor.  You won't find
me a mite huffy about where _I_ sleep."

The manse garret was a long, low, shadowy place, with one gable
end partitioned off.  Here a bed was made up for Mary of the
dainty hemstitched sheets and embroidered spread which Cecilia
Meredith had once so proudly made for her spare-room, and which
still survived Aunt Martha's uncertain washings.  The good nights
were said and silence fell over the manse.  Una was just falling
asleep when she heard a sound in the room just above that made
her sit up suddenly.

"Listen, Faith--Mary's crying," she whispered.  Faith replied
not, being already asleep.  Una slipped out of bed, and made her
way in her little white gown down the hall and up the garret
stairs.  The creaking floor gave ample notice of her coming, and
when she reached the corner room all was moonlit silence and the
trestle bed showed only a hump in the middle.

"Mary," whispered Una.

There was no response.

Una crept close to the bed and pulled at the spread.  "Mary, I
know you are crying.  I heard you.  Are you lonesome?"

Mary suddenly appeared to view but said nothing.

"Let me in beside you.  I'm cold," said Una shivering in the
chilly air, for the little garret window was open and the keen
breath of the north shore at night blew in.

Mary moved over and Una snuggled down beside her.

"NOW you won't be lonesome.  We shouldn't have left you here
alone the first night."

"I wasn't lonesome," sniffed Mary.

"What were you crying for then?"

"Oh, I just got to thinking of things when I was here alone.  I
thought of having to go back to Mrs. Wiley--and of being licked
for running away--and--and--and of going to hell for telling
lies.  It all worried me something scandalous."

"Oh, Mary," said poor Una in distress.  "I don't believe God will
send you to hell for telling lies when you didn't know it was
wrong.  He COULDN'T.  Why, He's kind and good.  Of course, you
mustn't tell any more now that you know it's wrong."

"If I can't tell lies what's to become of me?" said Mary with a
sob.  "YOU don't understand.  You don't know anything about it.
You've got a home and a kind father--though it does seem to me
that he isn't more'n about half there.  But anyway he doesn't
lick you, and you get enough to eat such as it is--though that
old aunt of yours doesn't know ANYTHING about cooking.  Why, this
is the first day I ever remember of feeling 'sif I'd enough to
eat.  I've been knocked about all of my life, 'cept for the two
years I was at the asylum.  They didn't lick me there and it
wasn't too bad, though the matron was cross.  She always looked
ready to bite my head off a nail.  But Mrs. Wiley is a holy
terror, that's what SHE is, and I'm just scared stiff when I
think of going back to her."

"Perhaps you won't have to.  Perhaps we'll be able to think of a
way out.  Let's both ask God to keep you from having to go back
to Mrs. Wiley.  You say your prayers, don't you Mary?"

"Oh, yes, I always go over an old rhyme 'fore I get into bed,"
said Mary indifferently.  "I never thought of asking for anything
in particular though.  Nobody in this world ever bothered
themselves about me so I didn't s'pose God would.  He MIGHT take
more trouble for you, seeing you're a minister's daughter."

"He'd take every bit as much trouble for you, Mary, I'm sure,"
said Una.  "It doesn't matter whose child you are.  You just ask
Him--and I will, too."

"All right," agreed Mary.  "It won't do any harm if it doesn't do
much good.  If you knew Mrs. Wiley as well as I do you wouldn't
think God would want to meddle with her.  Anyhow, I won't cry any
more about it.  This is a big sight better'n last night down in
that old barn, with the mice running about.  Look at the Four
Winds light.  Ain't it pretty?"

"This is the only window we can see it from," said Una.  "I love
to watch it."

"Do you?  So do I.  I could see it from the Wiley loft and it was
the only comfort I had.  When I was all sore from being licked
I'd watch it and forget about the places that hurt.  I'd think of
the ships sailing away and away from it and wish I was on one of
them sailing far away too--away from everything.  On winter
nights when it didn't shine, I just felt real lonesome.  Say,
Una, what makes all you folks so kind to me when I'm just a
stranger?"

"Because it's right to be.  The bible tells us to be kind to
everybody."

"Does it?  Well, I guess most folks don't mind it much then.  I
never remember of any one being kind to me before--true's you
live I don't.  Say, Una, ain't them shadows on the walls pretty?
They look just like a flock of little dancing birds.  And say,
Una, I like all you folks and them Blythe boys and Di, but I
don't like that Nan.  She's a proud one."

"Oh, no, Mary, she isn't a bit proud," said Una eagerly.  "Not a
single bit."

"Don't tell me.  Any one that holds her head like that IS proud.
I don't like her."

"WE all like her very much."

"Oh, I s'pose you like her better'n me?" said Mary jealously.
"Do you?"

"Why, Mary--we've known her for weeks and we've only known you a
few hours," stammered Una.

"So you do like her better then?" said Mary in a rage.  "All
right!  Like her all you want to.  _I_ don't care.  _I_ can get
along without you."

She flung herself over against the wall of the garret with a
slam.

"Oh, Mary," said Una, pushing a tender arm over Mary's
uncompromising back, "don't talk like that.  I DO like you ever
so much.  And you make me feel so bad."

No answer.  Presently Una gave a sob.  Instantly Mary squirmed
around again and engulfed Una in a bear's hug.

"Hush up," she ordered.  "Don't go crying over what I said.  I
was as mean as the devil to talk that way.  I orter to be skinned
alive--and you all so good to me.  I should think you WOULD like
any one better'n me.  I deserve every licking I ever got.  Hush,
now.  If you cry any more I'll go and walk right down to the
harbour in this night-dress and drown myself."

This terrible threat made Una choke back her sobs.  Her tears
were wiped away by Mary with the lace frill of the spare-room
pillow and forgiver and forgiven cuddled down together again,
harmony restored, to watch the shadows of the vine leaves on the
moonlit wall until they fell asleep.

And in the study below Rev. John Meredith walked the floor with
rapt face and shining eyes, thinking out his message of the
morrow, and knew not that under his own roof there was a little
forlorn soul, stumbling in darkness and ignorance, beset by
terror and compassed about with difficulties too great for it to
grapple in its unequal struggle with a big indifferent world.



CHAPTER VI. MARY STAYS AT THE MANSE

The manse children took Mary Vance to church with them the next
day.  At first Mary objected to the idea.

"Didn't you go to church over-harbour?" asked Una.

"You bet.  Mrs. Wiley never troubled church much, but I went
every Sunday I could get off.  I was mighty thankful to go to
some place where I could sit down for a spell.  But I can't go to
church in this old ragged dress."

This difficulty was removed by Faith offering the loan of her
second best dress.

"It's faded a little and two of the buttons are off, but I guess
it'll do."

"I'll sew the buttons on in a jiffy," said Mary.

"Not on Sunday," said Una, shocked.

"Sure.  The better the day the better the deed.  You just gimme a
needle and thread and look the other way if you're squeamish."

Faith's school boots, and an old black velvet cap that had once
been Cecilia Meredith's, completed Mary's costume, and to church
she went.  Her behaviour was quite conventional, and though some
wondered who the shabby little girl with the manse children was
she did not attract much attention.  She listened to the sermon
with outward decorum and joined lustily in the singing.  She had,
it appeared, a clear, strong voice and a good ear.

"His blood can make the VIOLETS clean," carolled Mary blithely.
Mrs. Jimmy Milgrave, whose pew was just in front of the manse
pew, turned suddenly and looked the child over from top to toe.
Mary, in a mere superfluity of naughtiness, stuck out her tongue
at Mrs. Milgrave, much to Una's horror.

"I couldn't help it," she declared after church.  "What'd she
want to stare at me like that for?  Such manners!  I'm GLAD stuck
my tongue out at her.  I wish I'd stuck it farther out.  Say, I
saw Rob MacAllister from over-harbour there.  Wonder if he'll
tell Mrs. Wiley on me."

No Mrs. Wiley appeared, however, and in a few day the children
forgot to look for her.  Mary was apparently a fixture at the
manse.  But she refused to go to school with the others.

"Nope.  I've finished my education," she said, when Faith urged
her to go.  "I went to school four winters since I come to Mrs.
Wiley's and I've had all I want of THAT.  I'm sick and tired of
being everlastingly jawed at 'cause I didn't get my home-lessons
done.  I'D no time to do home-lessons."

"Our teacher won't jaw you.  He is awfully nice," said Faith.

"Well, I ain't going.  I can read and write and cipher up to
fractions.  That's all I want.  You fellows go and I'll stay
home.  You needn't be scared I'll steal anything.  I swear I'm
honest."

Mary employed herself while the others were at school in cleaning
up the manse.  In a few days it was a different place.  Floors
were swept, furniture dusted, everything straightened out.  She
mended the spare-room bed-tick, she sewed on missing buttons, she
patched clothes neatly, she even invaded the study with broom and
dustpan and ordered Mr. Meredith out while she put it to rights.
But there was one department with which Aunt Martha refused to
let her interfere.  Aunt Martha might be deaf and half blind and
very childish, but she was resolved to keep the commissariat in
her own hands, in spite of all Mary's wiles and stratagems.

"I can tell you if old Martha'd let ME cook you'd have some
decent meals," she told the manse children indignantly.  "There'd
be no more 'ditto'--and no more lumpy porridge and blue milk
either.  What DOES she do with all the cream?"

"She gives it to the cat.  He's hers, you know," said Faith.

"I'd like to CAT her, "exclaimed Mary bitterly.  "I've no use for
cats anyhow.  They belong to the old Nick.  You can tell that by
their eyes.  Well, if old Martha won't, she won't, I s'pose.  But
it gits on my nerves to see good vittles spoiled."

When school came out they always went to Rainbow Valley.  Mary
refused to play in the graveyard.  She declared she was afraid of
ghosts.

"There's no such thing as ghosts," declared Jem Blythe.

"Oh, ain't there?"

"Did you ever see any?"

"Hundreds of 'em," said Mary promptly.

"What are they like?" said Carl.

"Awful-looking.  Dressed all in white with skellington hands and
heads," said Mary.

"What did you do?" asked Una.

"Run like the devil," said Mary.  Then she caught Walter's eyes
and blushed.  Mary was a good deal in awe of Walter.  She
declared to the manse girls that his eyes made her nervous.

"I think of all the lies I've ever told when I look into them,"
she said, "and I wish I hadn't."

Jem was Mary's favourite.  When he took her to the attic at
Ingleside and showed her the museum of curios that Captain Jim
Boyd had bequeathed to him she was immensely pleased and
flattered.  She also won Carl's heart entirely by her interest in
his beetles and ants.  It could not be denied that Mary got on
rather better with the boys than with the girls.  She quarrelled
bitterly with Nan Blythe the second day.

"Your mother is a witch," she told Nan scornfully.  "Red-haired
women are always witches."  Then she and Faith fell out about the
rooster.  Mary said its tail was too short.  Faith angrily
retorted that she guessed God know what length to make a
rooster's tail.  They did not "speak" for a day over this.  Mary
treated Una's hairless, one-eyed doll with consideration; but
when Una showed her other prized treasure--a picture of an angel
carrying a baby, presumably to heaven, Mary declared that it
looked too much like a ghost for her.  Una crept away to her room
and cried over this, but Mary hunted her out, hugged her
repentantly and implored forgiveness.  No one could keep up a
quarrel long with Mary--not even Nan, who was rather prone to
hold grudges and never quite forgave the insult to her mother.
Mary was jolly.  She could and did tell the most thrilling ghost
stories.  Rainbow Valley seances were undeniably more exciting
after Mary came.  She learned to play on the jew's-harp and soon
eclipsed Jerry.

"Never struck anything yet I couldn't do if I put my mind to it,"
she declared.  Mary seldom lost a chance of tooting her own horn.
She taught them how to make "blow-bags" out of the thick leaves
of the "live-forever" that flourished in the old Bailey garden,
she initiated them into the toothsome qualities of the "sours"
that grew in the niches of the graveyard dyke, and she could make
the most wonderful shadow pictures on the walls with her long,
flexible fingers.  And when they all went picking gum in Rainbow
Valley Mary always got "the biggest chew" and bragged about it.
There were times when they hated her and times when they loved
her.  But at all times they found her interesting.  So they
submitted quite meekly to her bossing, and by the end of a
fortnight had come to feel that she must always have been with
them.

"It's the queerest thing that Mrs. Wiley hain't been after me,"
said Mary.  "I can't understand it."

"Maybe she isn't going to bother about you at all," said Una.
"Then you can just go on staying here."

"This house ain't hardly big enough for me and old Martha," said
Mary darkly.  "It's a very fine thing to have enough to eat--I've
often wondered what it would be like--but I'm p'ticler about my
cooking.  And Mrs. Wiley'll be here yet.  SHE'S got a rod in
pickle for me all right.  I don't think about it so much in
daytime but say, girls, up there in that garret at night I git to
thinking and thinking of it, till I just almost wish she'd come
and have it over with.  I dunno's one real good whipping would be
much worse'n all the dozen I've lived through in my mind ever
since I run away.  Were any of you ever licked?"

"No, of course not," said Faith indignantly.  "Father would never
do such a thing."

"You don't know you're alive," said Mary with a sigh half of
envy, half of superiority.  "You don't know what I've come
through.  And I s'pose the Blythes were never licked either?"

"No-o-o, I guess not.  But I THINK they were sometimes spanked
when they were small."

"A spanking doesn't amount to anything," said Mary
contemptuously.  "If my folks had just spanked me I'd have
thought they were petting me.  Well, it ain't a fair world.  I
wouldn't mind taking my share of wallopings but I've had a darn
sight too many."

"It isn't right to say that word, Mary," said Una reproachfully.
"You promised me you wouldn't say it."

"G'way," responded Mary.  "If you knew some of the words I COULD
say if I liked you wouldn't make such a fuss over darn.  And you
know very well I hain't ever told any lies since I come here."

"What about all those ghosts you said you saw?" asked Faith.

Mary blushed.

"That was diff'runt," she said defiantly.  "I knew you wouldn't
believe them yarns and I didn't intend you to.  And I really did
see something queer one night when I was passing the over-harbour
graveyard, true's you live.  I dunno whether 'twas a ghost or
Sandy Crawford's old white nag, but it looked blamed queer and I
tell you I scooted at the rate of no man's business."



CHAPTER VII. A FISHY EPISODE

Rilla Blythe walked proudly, and perhaps a little primly, through
the main "street" of the Glen and up the manse hill, carefully
carrying a small basketful of early strawberries, which Susan had
coaxed into lusciousness in one of the sunny nooks of Ingleside.
Susan had charged Rilla to give the basket to nobody except Aunt
Martha or Mr. Meredith, and Rilla, very proud of being entrusted
with such an errand, was resolved to carry out her instructions
to the letter.

Susan had dressed her daintily in a white, starched, and
embroidered dress, with sash of blue and beaded slippers.  Her
long ruddy curls were sleek and round, and Susan had let her put
on her best hat, out of compliment to the manse.  It was a
somewhat elaborate affair, wherein Susan's taste had had more to
say than Anne's, and Rilla's small soul gloried in its splendours
of silk and lace and flowers.  She was very conscious of her hat,
and I am afraid she strutted up the manse hill.  The strut, or
the hat, or both, got on the nerves of Mary Vance, who was
swinging on the lawn gate.  Mary's temper was somewhat ruffled
just then, into the bargain.  Aunt Martha had refused to let her
peel the potatoes and had ordered her out of the kitchen.

"Yah!  You'll bring the potatoes to the table with strips of skin
hanging to them and half boiled as usual!  My, but it'll be nice
to go to your funeral," shrieked Mary.  She went out of the
kitchen, giving the door such a bang that even Aunt Martha heard
it, and Mr. Meredith in his study felt the vibration and thought
absently that there must have been a slight earthquake shock.
Then he went on with his sermon.

Mary slipped from the gate and confronted the spick-and-span
damsel of Ingleside.

"What you got there?" she demanded, trying to take the basket.

Rilla resisted.  "It'th for Mithter Meredith," she lisped.

"Give it to me.  I'LL give it to him," said Mary.

"No.  Thuthan thaid that I wathn't to give it to anybody but
Mithter Mer'dith or Aunt Martha," insisted Rilla.

Mary eyed her sourly.

"You think you're something, don't you, all dressed up like a
doll!  Look at me.  My dress is all rags and _I_ don't care!  I'd
rather be ragged than a doll baby.  Go home and tell them to put
you in a glass case.  Look at me--look at me--look at me!"

Mary executed a wild dance around the dismayed and bewildered
Rilla, flirting her ragged skirt and vociferating "Look at
me--look at me" until poor Rilla was dizzy.  But as the latter
tried to edge away towards the gate Mary pounced on her again.

"You give me that basket," she ordered with a grimace.  Mary was
past mistress in the art of "making faces."  She could give her
countenance a most grotesque and unearthly appearance out of
which her strange, brilliant, white eyes gleamed with weird
effect.

"I won't," gasped Rilla, frightened but staunch.  "You let me go,
Mary Vanth."

Mary let go for a minute and looked around here.  Just inside the
gate was a small "flake," on which a half a dozen large codfish
were drying.  One of Mr. Meredith's parishioners had presented
him with them one day, perhaps in lieu of the subscription he was
supposed to pay to the stipend and never did.  Mr. Meredith had
thanked him and then forgotten all about the fish, which would
have promptly spoiled had not the indefatigable Mary prepared
them for drying and rigged up the "flake" herself on which to dry
them.

Mary had a diabolical inspiration.  She flew to the "flake" and
seized the largest fish there--a huge, flat thing, nearly as big
as herself.  With a whoop she swooped down on the terrified
Rilla, brandishing her weird missile.  Rilla's courage gave way.
To be lambasted with a dried codfish was such an unheard-of thing
that Rilla could not face it.  With a shriek she dropped her
basket and fled.  The beautiful berries, which Susan had so
tenderly selected for the minister, rolled in a rosy torrent over
the dusty road and were trodden on by the flying feet of pursuer
and pursued.  The basket and contents were no longer in Mary's
mind.  She thought only of the delight of giving Rilla Blythe the
scare of her life.  She would teach HER to come giving herself
airs because of her fine clothes.

Rilla flew down the hill and along the street.  Terror lent wings
to her feet, and she just managed to keep ahead of Mary, who was
somewhat hampered by her own laughter, but who had breath enough
to give occasional blood-curdling whoops as she ran, flourishing
her codfish in the air.  Through the Glen street they swept,
while everybody ran to the windows and gates to see them.  Mary
felt she was making a tremendous sensation and enjoyed it.
Rilla, blind with terror and spent of breath, felt that she could
run no longer.  In another instant that terrible girl would be on
her with the codfish.  At this point the poor mite stumbled and
fell into the mud-puddle at the end of the street just as Miss
Cornelia came out of Carter Flagg's store.

Miss Cornelia took the whole situation in at a glance.  So did
Mary.  The latter stopped short in her mad career and before Miss
Cornelia could speak she had whirled around and was running up as
fast as she had run down.  Miss Cornelia's lips tightened
ominously, but she knew it was no use to think of chasing her.
So she picked up poor, sobbing, dishevelled Rilla instead and
took her home.  Rilla was heart-broken.  Her dress and slippers
and hat were ruined and her six year old pride had received
terrible bruises.

Susan, white with indignation, heard Miss Cornelia's story of
Mary Vance's exploit.

"Oh, the hussy--oh, the littly hussy!" she said, as she carried
Rilla away for purification and comfort.

"This thing has gone far enough, Anne dearie," said Miss Cornelia
resolutely.  "Something must be done.  WHO is this creature who
is staying at the manse and where does she come from?"

"I understood she was a little girl from over-harbour who was
visiting at the manse," answered Anne, who saw the comical side
of the codfish chase and secretly thought Rilla was rather vain
and needed a lesson or two.

"I know all the over-harbour families who come to our church and
that imp doesn't belong to any of them," retorted Miss Cornelia.
"She is almost in rags and when she goes to church she wears
Faith Meredith's old clothes.  There's some mystery here, and I'm
going to investigate it, since it seems nobody else will.  I
believe she was at the bottom of their goings-on in Warren Mead's
spruce bush the other day.  Did you hear of their frightening his
mother into a fit?"

"No.  I knew Gilbert had been called to see her, but I did not
hear what the trouble was."

"Well, you know she has a weak heart.  And one day last week,
when she was all alone on the veranda, she heard the most awful
shrieks of 'murder' and 'help' coming from the bush--positively
frightful sounds, Anne dearie.  Her heart gave out at once.
Warren heard them himself at the barn, and went straight to the
bush to investigate, and there he found all the manse children
sitting on a fallen tree and screaming 'murder' at the top of
their lungs.  They told him they were only in fun and didn't
think anyone would hear them.  They were just playing Indian
ambush.  Warren went back to the house and found his poor mother
unconscious on the veranda."

Susan, who had returned, sniffed contemptuously.

"I think she was very far from being unconscious, Mrs. Marshall
Elliott, and that you may tie to.  I have been hearing of Amelia
Warren's weak heart for forty years.  She had it when she was
twenty.  She enjoys making a fuss and having the doctor, and any
excuse will do."

"I don't think Gilbert thought her attack very serious," said
Anne.

"Oh, that may very well be," said Miss Cornelia.  "But the matter
has made an awful lot of talk and the Meads being Methodists
makes it that much worse.  What is going to become of those
children?  Sometimes I can't sleep at nights for thinking about
them, Anne dearie.  I really do question if they get enough to
eat, even, for their father is so lost in dreams that he doesn't
often remember he has a stomach, and that lazy old woman doesn't
bother cooking what she ought.  They are just running wild and
now that school is closing they'll be worse than ever."

"They do have jolly times," said Anne, laughing over the
recollections of some Rainbow Valley happenings that had come to
her ears.  "And they are all brave and frank and loyal and
truthful."

"That's a true word, Anne dearie, and when you come to think of
all the trouble in the church those two tattling, deceitful
youngsters of the last minister's made, I'm inclined to overlook
a good deal in the Merediths."

"When all is said and done, Mrs. Dr. dear, they are very nice
children," said Susan.  "They have got plenty of original sin in
them and that I will admit, but maybe it is just as well, for if
they had not they might spoil from over-sweetness.  Only I do
think it is not proper for them to play in a graveyard and that I
will maintain."

"But they really play quite quietly there," excused Anne.  "They
don't run and yell as they do elsewhere. Such howls as drift up
here from Rainbow Valley sometimes!  Though I fancy my own small
fry bear a valiant part in them.  They had a sham battle there
last night and had to 'roar' themselves, because they had no
artillery to do it, so Jem says.  Jem is passing through the
stage where all boys hanker to be soldiers."

"Well, thank goodness, he'll never be a soldier," said Miss
Cornelia.  "I never approved of our boys going to that South
African fracas.  But it's over, and not likely anything of the
kind will ever happen again.  I think the world is getting more
sensible.  As for the Merediths, I've said many a time and I say
it again, if Mr. Meredith had a wife all would be well."

"He called twice at the Kirks' last week, so I am told," said
Susan.

"Well," said Miss Cornelia thoughtfully, "as a rule, I don't
approve of a minister marrying in his congregation.  It generally
spoils him.  But in this case it would do no harm, for every one
likes Elizabeth Kirk and nobody else is hankering for the job of
stepmothering those youngsters.  Even the Hill girls balk at
that.  They haven't been found laying traps for Mr. Meredith.
Elizabeth would make him a good wife if he only thought so.  But
the trouble is, she really is homely and, Anne dearie, Mr.
Meredith, abstracted as he is, has an eye for a good-looking
woman, man-like.  He isn't SO other-worldly when it comes to
that, believe ME."

"Elizabeth Kirk is a very nice person, but they do say that
people have nearly frozen to death in her mother's spare-room bed
before now, Mrs. Dr. dear," said Susan darkly.  "If I felt I had
any right to express an opinion concerning such a solemn matter
as a minister's marriage I would say that I think Elizabeth's
cousin Sarah, over-harbour, would make Mr. Meredith a better
wife."

"Why, Sarah Kirk is a Methodist," said Miss Cornelia, much as if
Susan had suggested a Hottentot as a manse bride.

"She would likely turn Presbyterian if she married Mr. Meredith,"
retorted Susan.

Miss Cornelia shook her head.  Evidently with her it was, once a
Methodist, always a Methodist.

"Sarah Kirk is entirely out of the question," she said
positively.  "And so is Emmeline Drew--though the Drews are all
trying to make the match.  They are literally throwing poor
Emmeline at his head, and he hasn't the least idea of it."

"Emmeline Drew has no gumption, I must allow," said Susan.  "She
is the kind of woman, Mrs. Dr. dear, who would put a hot-water
bottle in your bed on a dog-night and then have her feelings hurt
because you were not grateful.  And her mother was a very poor
housekeeper.  Did you ever hear the story of her dishcloth?  She
lost her dishcloth one day.  But the next day she found it.  Oh,
yes, Mrs. Dr. dear, she found it, in the goose at the
dinner-table, mixed up with the stuffing.  Do you think a woman
like that would do for a minister's mother-in-law?  I do not.
But no doubt I would be better employed in mending little Jem's
trousers than in talking gossip about my neighbours.  He tore
them something scandalous last night in Rainbow Valley."

"Where is Walter?" asked Anne.

"He is up to no good, I fear, Mrs. Dr. dear.  He is in the attic
writing something in an exercise book.  And he has not done as
well in arithmetic this term as he should, so the teacher tells
me.  Too well I know the reason why.  He has been writing silly
rhymes when he should have been doing his sums.  I am afraid that
boy is going to be a poet, Mrs. Dr. dear."

"He is a poet now, Susan."

"Well, you take it real calm, Mrs. Dr. dear.  I suppose it is the
best way, when a person has the strength.  I had an uncle who
began by being a poet and ended up by being a tramp.  Our family
were dreadfully ashamed of him."

"You don't seem to think very highly of poets, Susan," said Anne,
laughing.

"Who does, Mrs. Dr. dear?" asked Susan in genuine astonishment.

"What about Milton and Shakespeare?  And the poets of the Bible?"

"They tell me Milton could not get along with his wife, and
Shakespeare was no more than respectable by times.  As for the
Bible, of course things were different in those sacred days--
although I never had a high opinion of King David, say what you
will.  I never knew any good to come of writing poetry, and I
hope and pray that blessed boy will outgrow the tendency.  If he
does not--we must see what emulsion of cod-liver oil will do."



CHAPTER VIII. MISS CORNELIA INTERVENES

Miss Cornelia descended upon the manse the next day and
cross-questioned Mary, who, being a young person of considerable
discernment and astuteness, told her story simple and truthfully,
with an entire absence of complaint or bravado.  Miss Cornelia
was more favourably impressed than she had expected to be, but
deemed it her duty to be severe.

"Do you think," she said sternly, "that you showed your gratitude
to this family, who have been far too kind to you, by insulting
and chasing one of their little friends as you did yesterday?"

"Say, it was rotten mean of me," admitted Mary easily.  "I dunno
what possessed me.  That old codfish seemed to come in so blamed
handy.  But I was awful sorry--I cried last night after I went to
bed about it, honest I did.  You ask Una if I didn't.  I wouldn't
tell her what for 'cause I was ashamed of it, and then she cried,
too, because she was afraid someone had hurt my feelings.  Laws,
_I_ ain't got any feelings to hurt worth speaking of.  What
worries me is why Mrs. Wiley hain't been hunting for me.  It
ain't like her."

Miss Cornelia herself thought it rather peculiar, but she merely
admonished Mary sharply not to take any further liberties with
the minister's codfish, and went to report progress at Ingleside.

"If the child's story is true the matter ought to be looked
into," she said.  "I know something about that Wiley woman,
believe ME.  Marshall used to be well acquainted with her when he
lived over-harbour.  I heard him say something last summer about
her and a home child she had--likely this very Mary-creature.  He
said some one told him she was working the child to death and not
half feeding and clothing it.  You know, Anne dearie, it has
always been my habit neither to make nor meddle with those
over-harbour folks.  But I shall send Marshall over to-morrow to
find out the rights of this if he can.  And THEN I'll speak to
the minister.  Mind you, Anne dearie, the Merediths found this
girl literally starving in James Taylor's old hay barn.  She had
been there all night, cold and hungry and alone.  And us sleeping
warm in our beds after good suppers."

"The poor little thing," said Anne, picturing one of her own dear
babies, cold and hungry and alone in such circumstances.  "If she
has been ill-used, Miss Cornelia, she mustn't be taken back to
such a place.  _I_ was an orphan once in a very similar
situation."

"We'll have to consult the Hopetown asylum folks," said Miss
Cornelia.  "Anyway, she can't be left at the manse.  Dear knows
what those poor children might learn from her.  I understand that
she has been known to swear.  But just think of her being there
two whole weeks and Mr Meredith never waking up to it!  What
business has a man like that to have a family?  Why, Anne dearie,
he ought to be a monk."

Two evenings later Miss Cornelia was back at Ingleside.

"It's the most amazing thing!"  she said.  "Mrs. Wiley was found
dead in her bed the very morning after this Mary-creature ran
away.  She has had a bad heart for years and the doctor had
warned her it might happen at any time.  She had sent away her
hired man and there was nobody in the house.  Some neighbours
found her the next day.  They missed the child, it seems, but
supposed Mrs. Wiley had sent her to her cousin near Charlottetown
as she had said she was going to do.  The cousin didn't come to
the funeral and so nobody ever knew that Mary wasn't with her.
The people Marshall talked to told him some things about the way
Mrs. Wiley used this Mary that made his blood boil, so he
declares.  You know, it puts Marshall in a regular fury to hear
of a child being ill-used.  They said she whipped her mercilessly
for every little fault or mistake.  Some folks talked of writing
to the asylum authorities but everybody's business is nobody's
business and it was never done."

"I am sorry that Wiley person is dead," said Susan fiercely.  "I
should like to go over-harbour and give her a piece of my mind.
Starving and beating a child, Mrs. Dr. dear!  As you know, I hold
with lawful spanking, but I go no further.  And what is to become
of this poor child now, Mrs. Marshall Elliott?"

"I suppose she must be sent back to Hopetown," said Miss
Cornelia.  "I think every one hereabouts who wants a home child
has one.  I'll see Mr. Meredith to-morrow and tell him my opinion
of the whole affair."

"And no doubt she will, Mrs. Dr. dear," said Susan, after Miss
Cornelia had gone.  "She would stick at nothing, not even at
shingling the church spire if she took it into her head.  But I
cannot understand how even Cornelia Bryant can talk to a minister
as she does.  You would think he was just any common person."

When Miss Cornelia had gone, Nan Blythe uncurled herself from the
hammock where she had been studying her lessons and slipped away
to Rainbow Valley.  The others were already there.  Jem and Jerry
were playing quoits with old horseshoes borrowed from the Glen
blacksmith.  Carl was stalking ants on a sunny hillock.  Walter,
lying on his stomach among the fern, was reading aloud to Mary
and Di and Faith and Una from a wonderful book of myths wherein
were fascinating accounts of Prester John and the Wandering Jew,
divining rods and tailed men, of Schamir, the worm that split
rocks and opened the way to golden treasure, of Fortunate Isles
and swan-maidens.  It was a great shock to Walter to learn that
William Tell and Gelert were myths also; and the story of Bishop
Hatto was to keep him awake all that night; but best of all he
loved the stories of the Pied Piper and the San Greal.  He read
them thrillingly, while the bells on the Tree Lovers tinkled in
the summer wind and the coolness of the evening shadows crept
across the valley.

"Say, ain't them in'resting lies?"  said Mary admiringly when
Walter had closed the book.

"They aren't lies," said Di indignantly.

"You don't mean they're true?" asked Mary incredulously.

"No--not exactly.  They're like those ghost-stories of yours.
They weren't true--but you didn't expect us to believe them, so
they weren't lies."

"That yarn about the divining rod is no lie, anyhow," said Mary.
"Old Jake Crawford over-harbour can work it.  They send for him
from everywhere when they want to dig a well.  And I believe I
know the Wandering Jew."

"Oh, Mary," said Una, awe-struck.

"I do--true's you're alive.  There was an old man at Mrs. Wiley's
one day last fall.  He looked old enough to be ANYTHING.  She was
asking him about cedar posts, if he thought they'd last well.
And he said, 'Last well?  They'll last a thousand years.  I know,
for I've tried them twice.'  Now, if he was two thousand years
old who was he but your Wandering Jew?"

"I don't believe the Wandering Jew would associate with a person
like Mrs. Wiley," said Faith decidedly.

"I love the Pied Piper story," said Di, "and so does mother.  I
always feel so sorry for the poor little lame boy who couldn't
keep up with the others and got shut out of the mountain.  He
must have been so disappointed.  I think all the rest of his life
he'd be wondering what wonderful thing he had missed and wishing
he could have got in with the others."

"But how glad his mother must have been," said Una softly.  "I
think she had been sorry all her life that he was lame. Perhaps
she even used to cry about it.  But she would never be sorry
again--never.  She would be glad he was lame because that was why
she hadn't lost him."

"Some day," said Walter dreamily, looking afar into the sky, "the
Pied Piper will come over the hill up there and down Rainbow
Valley, piping merrily and sweetly.  And I will follow
him--follow him down to the shore--down to the sea--away from you
all.  I don't think I'll want to go--Jem will want to go--it will
be such an adventure--but I won't.  Only I'll HAVE to--the music
will call and call and call me until I MUST follow."

"We'll all go," cried Di, catching fire at the flame of Walter's
fancy, and half-believing she could see the mocking, retreating
figure of the mystic piper in the far, dim end of the valley.

"No.  You'll sit here and wait," said Walter, his great, splendid
eyes full of strange glamour.  "You'll wait for us to come back.
And we may not come--for we cannot come as long as the Piper
plays.  He may pipe us round the world.  And still you'll sit
here and wait--and WAIT."

"Oh, dry up," said Mary, shivering.  "Don't look like that,
Walter Blythe.  You give me the creeps.  Do you want to set me
bawling?  I could just see that horrid old Piper going away on,
and you boys following him, and us girls sitting here waiting all
alone.  I dunno why it is--I never was one of the blubbering
kind--but as soon as you start your spieling I always want to
cry."

Walter smiled in triumph. He liked to exercise this power of his
over his companions--to play on their feelings, waken their
fears, thrill their souls.  It satisfied some dramatic instinct
in him.  But under his triumph was a queer little chill of some
mysterious dread.  The Pied Piper had seemed very real to him--as
if the fluttering veil that hid the future had for a moment been
blown aside in the starlit dusk of Rainbow Valley and some dim
glimpse of coming years granted to him.

Carl, coming up to their group with a report of the doings in
ant-land, brought them all back to the realm of facts.

"Ants ARE darned in'resting," exclaimed Mary, glad to escape the
shadowy Piper's thrall.  "Carl and me watched that bed in the
graveyard all Saturday afternoon.  I never thought there was so
much in bugs.  Say, but they're quarrelsome little cusses--some
of 'em like to start a fight 'thout any reason, far's we could
see.  And some of 'em are cowards.  They got so scared they just
doubled theirselves up into a ball and let the other fellows bang
'em.  They wouldn't put up a fight at all.  Some of 'em are lazy
and won't work.  We watched 'em shirking.  And there was one ant
died of grief 'cause another ant got killed--wouldn't work--
wouldn't eat--just died--it did, honest to Go--oodness."

A shocked silence prevailed.  Every one knew that Mary had not
started out to say "goodness."  Faith and Di exchanged glances
that would have done credit to Miss Cornelia herself.  Walter and
Carl looked uncomfortable and Una's lip trembled.

Mary squirmed uncomfortably.

"That slipped out 'fore I thought--it did, honest to--I mean,
true's you live, and I swallowed half of it.  You folks over here
are mighty squeamish seems to me.  Wish you could have heard the
Wileys when they had a fight."

"Ladies don't say such things," said Faith, very primly for her.

"It isn't right," whispered Una.

"I ain't a lady," said Mary.  "What chance've I ever had of being
a lady?  But I won't say that again if I can help it.  I promise
you."

"Besides," said Una, "you can't expect God to answer your prayers
if you take His name in vain, Mary."

"I don't expect Him to answer 'em anyhow," said Mary of little
faith.  "I've been asking Him for a week to clear up this Wiley
affair and He hasn't done a thing.  I'm going to give up."

At this juncture Nan arrived breathless.

"Oh, Mary, I've news for you.  Mrs. Elliott has been over-harbour
and what do you think she found out?  Mrs. Wiley is dead--she was
found dead in bed the morning after you ran away.  So you'll
never have to go back to her."

"Dead!" said Mary stupefied.  Then she shivered.

"Do you s'pose my praying had anything to do with that?"  she
cried imploringly to Una.  "If it had I'll never pray again as
long as I live.  Why, she may come back and ha'nt me."

"No, no, Mary," said Una comfortingly, "it hadn't.  Why, Mrs.
Wiley died long before you ever began to pray about it at all."

"That's so," said Mary recovering from her panic.  "But I tell
you it gave me a start.  I wouldn't like to think I'd prayed
anybody to death.  I never thought of such a thing as her dying
when I was praying.  She didn't seem much like the dying kind.
Did Mrs. Elliott say anything about me?"

"She said you would likely have to go back to the asylum."

"I thought as much," said Mary drearily.  "And then they'll give
me out again--likely to some one just like Mrs. Wiley.  Well, I
s'pose I can stand it.  I'm tough."

"I'm going to pray that you won't have to go back," whispered
Una, as she and Mary walked home to the manse.

"You can do as you like," said Mary decidedly, "but I vow _I_
won't.  I'm good and scared of this praying business.  See what's
come of it.  If Mrs. Wiley HAD died after I started praying it
would have been my doings."

"Oh, no, it wouldn't," said Una.  "I wish I could explain things
better--father could, I know, if you'd talk to him, Mary."

"Catch me!  I don't know what to make of your father, that's the
long and short of it.  He goes by me and never sees me in broad
daylight.  I ain't proud--but I ain't a door-mat, neither!"

"Oh, Mary, it's just father's way.  Most of the time he never
sees us, either.  He is thinking deeply, that is all.  And I AM
going to pray that God will keep you in Four Winds--because I
like you, Mary."

"All right.  Only don't let me hear of any more people dying on
account of it," said Mary.  "I'd like to stay in Four Winds fine.
I like it and I like the harbour and the light house--and you and
the Blythes.  You're the only friends I ever had and I'd hate to
leave you."



CHAPTER IX. UNA INTERVENES

Miss Cornelia had an interview with Mr. Meredith which proved
something of a shock to that abstracted gentleman.  She pointed
out to him, none too respectfully, his dereliction of duty in
allowing a waif like Mary Vance to come into his family and
associate with his children without knowing or learning anything
about her.

"I don't say there is much harm done, of course," she concluded.
"This Mary-creature isn't what you might call bad, when all is
said and done.  I've been questioning your children and the
Blythes, and from what I can make out there's nothing much to be
said against the child except that she's slangy and doesn't use
very refined language.  But think what might have happened if
she'd been like some of those home children we know of.  You know
yourself what that poor little creature the Jim Flaggs' had,
taught and told the Flagg children."

Mr. Meredith did know and was honestly shocked over his own
carelessness in the matter.

"But what is to be done, Mrs. Elliott?" he asked helplessly.  "We
can't turn the poor child out.  She must be cared for."

"Of course.  We'd better write to the Hopetown authorities at
once.  Meanwhile, I suppose she might as well stay here for a few
more days till we hear from them.  But keep your eyes and ears
open, Mr. Meredith."

Susan would have died of horror on the spot if she had heard Miss
Cornelia so admonishing a minister.  But Miss Cornelia departed
in a warm glow of satisfaction over duty done, and that night Mr.
Meredith asked Mary to come into his study with him.  Mary
obeyed, looking literally ghastly with fright.  But she got the
surprise of her poor, battered little life.  This man, of whom
she had stood so terribly in awe, was the kindest, gentlest soul
she had ever met.  Before she knew what happened Mary found
herself pouring all her troubles into his ear and receiving in
return such sympathy and tender understanding as it had never
occurred to her to imagine.  Mary left the study with her face
and eyes so softened that Una hardly knew her.

"Your father's all right, when he does wake up," she said with a
sniff that just escaped being a sob.  "It's a pity he doesn't
wake up oftener.  He said I wasn't to blame for Mrs. Wiley dying,
but that I must try to think of her good points and not of her
bad ones.  I dunno what good points she had, unless it was
keeping her house clean and making first-class butter.  I know I
'most wore my arms out scrubbing her old kitchen floor with the
knots in it.  But anything your father says goes with me after
this."

Mary proved a rather dull companion in the following days,
however.  She confided to Una that the more she thought of going
back to the asylum the more she hated it.  Una racked her small
brains for some way of averting it, but it was Nan Blythe who
came to the rescue with a somewhat startling suggestion.

"Mrs. Elliott might take Mary herself.  She has a great big house
and Mr. Elliott is always wanting her to have help.  It would be
just a splendid place for Mary.  Only she'd have to behave
herself."

"Oh, Nan, do you think Mrs. Elliott would take her?"

"It wouldn't do any harm if you asked her," said Nan.  At first
Una did not think she could.  She was so shy that to ask a favour
of anybody was agony to her.  And she was very much in awe of the
bustling, energetic Mrs. Elliott.  She liked her very much and
always enjoyed a visit to her house; but to go and ask her to
adopt Mary Vance seemed such a height of presumption that Una's
timid spirit quailed.

When the Hopetown authorities wrote to Mr. Meredith to send Mary
to them without delay Mary cried herself to sleep in the manse
attic that night and Una found a desperate courage.  The next
evening she slipped away from the manse to the harbour road.  Far
down in Rainbow Valley she heard joyous laughter but her way lay
not there.  She was terribly pale and terribly in earnest--so
much so that she took no notice of the people she met--and old
Mrs. Stanley Flagg was quite huffed and said Una Meredith would
be as absentminded as her father when she grew up.

Miss Cornelia lived half way between the Glen and Four Winds
Point, in a house whose original glaring green hue had mellowed
down to an agreeable greenish gray.  Marshall Elliott had planted
trees about it and set out a rose garden and a spruce hedge.  It
was quite a different place from what it had been in years agone.
The manse children and the Ingleside children liked to go there.
It was a beautiful walk down the old harbour road, and there was
always a well-filled cooky jar at the end.

The misty sea was lapping softly far down on the sands.  Three
big boats were skimming down the harbour like great white
sea-birds.  A schooner was coming up the channel.  The world of
Four Winds was steeped in glowing colour, and subtle music, and
strange glamour, and everybody should have been happy in it.  But
when Una turned in at Miss Cornelia's gate her very legs had
almost refused to carry her.

Miss Cornelia was alone on the veranda.  Una had hoped Mr.
Elliott would be there.  He was so big and hearty and twinkly
that there would be encouragement in his presence.  She sat on
the little stool Miss Cornelia brought out and tried to eat the
doughnut Miss Cornelia gave her.  It stuck in her throat, but she
swallowed desperately lest Miss Cornelia be offended.  She could
not talk; she was still pale; and her big, dark-blue eyes looked
so piteous that Miss Cornelia concluded the child was in some
trouble.

"What's on your mind, dearie?" she asked.  "There's something,
that's plain to be seen."

Una swallowed the last twist of doughnut with a desperate gulp.

"Mrs. Elliott, won't you take Mary Vance?"  she said
beseechingly.

Miss Cornelia stared blankly.

"Me!  Take Mary Vance!  Do you mean keep her?"

"Yes--keep her--adopt her," said Una eagerly, gaining courage now
that the ice was broken.  "Oh, Mrs. Elliott, PLEASE do.  She
doesn't want to go back to the asylum--she cries every night
about it.  She's so afraid of being sent to another hard place.
And she's SO smart--there isn't anything she can't do.  I know
you wouldn't be sorry if you took her."

"I never thought of such a thing," said Miss Cornelia rather
helplessly.

"WON'T you think of it?" implored Una.

"But, dearie, I don't want help.  I'm quite able to do all the
work here.  And I never thought I'd like to have a home girl if I
did need help."

The light went out of Una's eyes.  Her lips trembled.  She sat
down on her stool again, a pathetic little figure of
disappointment, and began to cry.

"Don't--dearie--don't," exclaimed Miss Cornelia in distress.  She
could never bear to hurt a child.  "I don't say I WON'T take
her--but the idea is so new it has just kerflummuxed me.  I must
think it over."

"Mary is SO smart," said Una again.

"Humph!  So I've heard.  I've heard she swears, too.  Is that
true?"

"I've never heard her swear EXACTLY," faltered Una uncomfortably.
"But I'm afraid she COULD."

"I believe you!  Does she always tell the truth?"

"I think she does, except when she's afraid of a whipping."

"And yet you want me to take her!"

"SOME ONE has to take her," sobbed Una.  "SOME ONE has to look
after her, Mrs. Elliott."

"That's true.  Perhaps it IS my duty to do it," said Miss
Cornelia with a sigh.  "Well, I'll have to talk it over with Mr.
Elliott.  So don't say anything about it just yet.  Take another
doughnut, dearie."

Una took it and ate it with a better appetite.

"I'm very fond of doughnuts," she confessed "Aunt Martha never
makes any.  But Miss Susan at Ingleside does, and sometimes she
lets us have a plateful in Rainbow Valley.  Do you know what I do
when I'm hungry for doughnuts and can't get any, Mrs. Elliott?"

"No, dearie.  What?"

"I get out mother's old cook book and read the doughnut
recipe--and the other recipes.  They sound SO nice.  I always do
that when I'm hungry--especially after we've had ditto for
dinner.  THEN I read the fried chicken and the roast goose
recipes.  Mother could make all those nice things."

"Those manse children will starve to death yet if Mr. Meredith
doesn't get married," Miss Cornelia told her husband indignantly
after Una had gone.  "And he won't--and what's to be done?  And
SHALL we take this Mary-creature, Marshall?"

"Yes, take her," said Marshall laconically.

"Just like a man," said his wife, despairingly."  'Take her'--as
if that was all.  There are a hundred things to be considered,
believe ME."

"Take her--and we'll consider them afterwards, Cornelia," said
her husband.

In the end Miss Cornelia did take her and went up to announce her
decision to the Ingleside people first.

"Splendid!" said Anne delightedly.  "I've been hoping you would
do that very thing, Miss Cornelia.  I want that poor child to get
a good home.  I was a homeless little orphan just like her once."

"I don't think this Mary-creature is or ever will be much like
you," retorted Miss Cornelia gloomily.  "She's a cat of another
colour.  But she's also a human being with an immortal soul to
save.  I've got a shorter catechism and a small tooth comb and
I'm going to do my duty by her, now that I've set my hand to the
plough, believe me."

Mary received the news with chastened satisfaction.

"It's better luck than I expected," she said.

"You'll have to mind your p's and q's with Mrs. Elliott," said
Nan.

"Well, I can do that," flashed Mary.  "I know how to behave when
I want to just as well as you, Nan Blythe."

"You mustn't use bad words, you know, Mary," said Una anxiously.

"I s'pose she'd die of horror if I did," grinned Mary, her white
eyes shining with unholy glee over the idea.  "But you needn't
worry, Una.  Butter won't melt in my mouth after this.  I'll be
all prunes and prisms."

"Nor tell lies," added Faith.

"Not even to get off from a whipping?" pleaded Mary.

"Mrs. Elliott will NEVER whip you--NEVER," exclaimed Di.

"Won't she?" said Mary skeptically.  "If I ever find myself in a
place where I ain't licked I'll think it's heaven all right.  No
fear of me telling lies then.  I ain't fond of telling 'em--I'd
ruther not, if it comes to that."

The day before Mary's departure from the manse they had a picnic
in her honour in Rainbow Valley, and that evening all the manse
children gave her something from their scanty store of treasured
things for a keepsake.  Carl gave her his Noah's ark and Jerry
his second best jew's-harp.  Faith gave her a little hairbrush
with a mirror in the back of it, which Mary had always considered
very wonderful.  Una hesitated between an old beaded purse and a
gay picture of Daniel in the lion's den, and finally offered Mary
her choice.  Mary really hankered after the beaded purse, but she
knew Una loved it, so she said,

"Give me Daniel.  I'd rusher have it 'cause I'm partial to lions.
Only I wish they'd et Daniel up.  It would have been more
exciting."

At bedtime Mary coaxed Una to sleep with her.

"It's for the last time," she said, "and it's raining tonight,
and I hate sleeping up there alone when it's raining on account
of that graveyard.  I don't mind it on fine nights, but a night
like this I can't see anything but the rain pouring down on them
old white stones, and the wind round the window sounds as if them
dead people were trying to get in and crying 'cause they
couldn't."

"I like rainy nights," said Una, when they were cuddled down
together in the little attic room, "and so do the Blythe girls."

"I don't mind 'em when I'm not handy to graveyards," said Mary.
"If I was alone here I'd cry my eyes out I'd be so lonesome.  I
feel awful bad to be leaving you all."

"Mrs. Elliott will let you come up and play in Rainbow Valley
quite often I'm sure," said Una.  "And you WILL be a good girl,
won't you, Mary?"

"Oh, I'll try," sighed Mary.  "But it won't be as easy for me to
be good--inside, I mean, as well as outside--as it is for you.
You hadn't such scalawags of relations as I had."

"But your people must have had some good qualities as well as bad
ones," argued Una.  "You must live up to them and never mind
their bad ones."

"I don't believe they had any good qualities," said Mary
gloomily.  "I never heard of any.  My grandfather had money, but
they say he was a rascal.  No, I'll just have to start out on my
own hook and do the best I can."

"And God will help you, you know, Mary, if you ask Him."

"I don't know about that."

"Oh, Mary.  You know we asked God to get a home for you and He
did."

"I don't see what He had to do with it," retorted Mary.  "It was
you put it into Mrs. Elliott's head."

"But God put it into her HEART to take you.  All my putting it
into her HEAD wouldn't have done any good if He hadn't."

"Well, there may be something in that," admitted Mary.  "Mind
you, I haven't got anything against God, Una.  I'm willing to
give Him a chance.  But, honest, I think He's an awful lot like
your father--just absent-minded and never taking any notice of a
body most of the time, but sometimes waking up all of a suddent
and being awful good and kind and sensible."

"Oh, Mary, no!" exclaimed horrified Una.  "God isn't a bit like
father--I mean He's a thousand times better and kinder."

"If He's as good as your father He'll do for me," said Mary.
"When your father was talking to me I felt as if I never could be
bad any more."

"I wish you'd talk to father about Him," sighed Una.  "He can
explain it all so much better than I can."

"Why, so I will, next time he wakes up," promised Mary.  "That
night he talked to me in the study he showed me real clear that
my praying didn't kill Mrs. Wiley.  My mind's been easy since,
but I'm real cautious about praying.  I guess the old rhyme is
the safest.  Say, Una, it seems to me if one has to pray to
anybody it'd be better to pray to the devil than to God.  God's
good, anyhow so you say, so He won't do you any harm, but from
all I can make out the devil needs to be pacified.  I think the
sensible way would be to say to HIM, 'Good devil, please don't
tempt me.  Just leave me alone, please.'  Now, don't you?"

"Oh, no, no, Mary.  I'm sure it couldn't be right to pray to the
devil.  And it wouldn't do any good because he's bad.  It might
aggravate him and he'd be worse than ever."

"Well, as to this God-matter," said Mary stubbornly, "since you
and I can't settle it, there ain't no use in talking more about
it until we've a chanct to find out the rights of it.  I'll do
the best I can alone till then."

"If mother was alive she could tell us everything," said Una with
a sigh.

"I wisht she was alive," said Mary.  "I don't know what's going
to become of you youngsters when I'm gone.  Anyhow, DO try and
keep the house a little tidy.  The way people talks about it is
scandalous.  And the first thing you know your father will be
getting married again and then your noses will be out of joint."

Una was startled.  The idea of her father marrying again had
never presented itself to her before.  She did not like it and
she lay silent under the chill of it.

"Stepmothers are AWFUL creatures," Mary went on.  "I could make
your blood run cold if I was to tell you all I know about 'em.
The Wilson kids across the road from Wiley's had a stepmother.
She was just as bad to 'em as Mrs. Wiley was to me.  It'll be
awful if you get a stepmother."

"I'm sure we won't," said Una tremulously.  "Father won't marry
anybody else."

"He'll be hounded into it, I expect," said Mary darkly.  "All the
old maids in the settlement are after him.  There's no being up
to them.  And the worst of stepmothers is, they always set your
father against you.  He'd never care anything about you again.
He'd always take her part and her children's part.  You see,
she'd make him believe you were all bad."

"I wish you hadn't told me this, Mary," cried Una.  "It makes me
feel so unhappy."

"I only wanted to warn you," said Mary, rather repentantly.  "Of
course, your father's so absent-minded he mightn't happen to
think of getting married again.  But it's better to be prepared."

Long after Mary slept serenely little Una lay awake, her eyes
smarting with tears.  On, how dreadful it would be if her father
should marry somebody who would make him hate her and Jerry and
Faith and Carl!  She couldn't bear it--she couldn't!

Mary had not instilled any poison of the kind Miss Cornelia had
feared into the manse children's minds.  Yet she had certainly
contrived to do a little mischief with the best of intentions.
But she slept dreamlessly, while Una lay awake and the rain fell
and the wind wailed around the old gray manse.  And the Rev. John
Meredith forgot to go to bed at all because he was absorbed in
reading a life of St. Augustine.  It was gray dawn when he
finished it and went upstairs, wrestling with the problems of two
thousand years ago.  The door of the girls' room was open and he
saw Faith lying asleep, rosy and beautiful.  He wondered where
Una was.  Perhaps she had gone over to "stay all night" with the
Blythe girls.  She did this occasionally, deeming it a great
treat.  John Meredith sighed.  He felt that Una's whereabouts
ought not to be a mystery to him.  Cecelia would have looked
after her better than that.

If only Cecelia were still with him!  How pretty and gay she had
been!  How the old manse up at Maywater had echoed to her songs!
And she had gone away so suddenly, taking her laughter and music
and leaving silence--so suddenly that he had never quite got over
his feeling of amazement.  How could SHE, the beautiful and
vivid, have died?

The idea of a second marriage had never presented itself
seriously to John Meredith.  He had loved his wife so deeply that
he believed he could never care for any woman again.  He had a
vague idea that before very long Faith would be old enough to
take her mother's place.  Until then, he must do the best he
could alone.  He sighed and went to his room, where the bed was
still unmade.  Aunt Martha had forgotten it, and Mary had not
dared to make it because Aunt Martha had forbidden her to meddle
with anything in the minister's room.  But Mr. Meredith did not
notice that it was unmade.  His last thoughts were of St.
Augustine.



CHAPTER X. THE MANSE GIRLS CLEAN HOUSE

"Ugh," said Faith, sitting up in bed with a shiver.  "It's
raining.  I do hate a rainy Sunday.  Sunday is dull enough even
when it's fine."

"We oughtn't to find Sunday dull," said Una sleepily, trying to
pull her drowsy wits together with an uneasy conviction that they
had overslept.

"But we DO, you know," said Faith candidly.  "Mary Vance says
most Sundays are so dull she could hang herself."

"We ought to like Sunday better than Mary Vance," said Una
remorsefully.  "We're the minister's children."

"I wish we were a blacksmith's children," protested Faith
angrily, hunting for her stockings.  "THEN people wouldn't expect
us to be better than other children.  JUST look at the holes in
my heels.  Mary darned them all up before she went away, but
they're as bad as ever now.  Una, get up.  I can't get the
breakfast alone.  Oh, dear.  I wish father and Jerry were home.
You wouldn't think we'd miss father much--we don't see much of
him when he is home.  And yet EVERYTHING seems gone.  I must run
in and see how Aunt Martha is."

"Is she any better?" asked Una, when Faith returned.

"No, she isn't.  She's groaning with the misery still.  Maybe we
ought to tell Dr. Blythe.  But she says not--she never had a
doctor in her life and she isn't going to begin now.  She says
doctors just live by poisoning people.  Do you suppose they do?"

"No, of course not," said Una indignantly.  "I'm sure Dr. Blythe
wouldn't poison anybody."

"Well, we'll have to rub Aunt Martha's back again after
breakfast.  We'd better not make the flannels as hot as we did
yesterday."

Faith giggled over the remembrance.  They had nearly scalded the
skin off poor Aunt Martha's back.  Una sighed.  Mary Vance would
have known just what the precise temperature of flannels for a
misery back should be.  Mary knew everything.  They knew nothing.
And how could they learn, save by bitter experience for which, in
this instance, unfortunate Aunt Martha had paid?

The preceding Monday Mr. Meredith had left for Nova Scotia to
spend his short vacation, taking Jerry with him.  On Wednesday
Aunt Martha was suddenly seized with a recurring and mysterious
ailment which she always called "the misery," and which was
tolerably certain to attack her at the most inconvenient times.
She could not rise from her bed, any movement causing agony.  A
doctor she flatly refused to have.  Faith and Una cooked the
meals and waited on her.  The less said about the meals the
better--yet they were not much worse than Aunt Martha's had been.
There were many women in the village who would have been glad to
come and help, but Aunt Martha refused to let her plight be
known.

"You must worry on till I kin git around," she groaned.  "Thank
goodness, John isn't here.  There's a plenty o' cold biled meat
and bread and you kin try your hand at making porridge."

The girls had tried their hand, but so far without much success.
The first day it had been too thin.  The next day so thick that
you could cut it in slices.  And both days it had been burned.

"I hate porridge," said Faith viciously.  "When I have a house of
my own I'm NEVER going to have a single bit of porridge in it."

"What'll your children do then?" asked Una.  "Children have to
have porridge or they won't grow.  Everybody says so."

"They'll have to get along without it or stay runts," retorted
Faith stubbornly.  "Here, Una, you stir it while I set the table.
If I leave it for a minute the horrid stuff will burn.  It's half
past nine.  We'll be late for Sunday School."

"I haven't seen anyone going past yet," said Una.  "There won't
likely be many out.  Just see how it's pouring.  And when there's
no preaching the folks won't come from a distance to bring the
children."

"Go and call Carl," said Faith.

Carl, it appeared, had a sore throat, induced by getting wet in
the Rainbow Valley marsh the previous evening while pursuing
dragon-flies.  He had come home with dripping stockings and boots
and had sat out the evening in them.  He could not eat any
breakfast and Faith made him go back to bed again.  She and Una
left the table as it was and went to Sunday School.  There was no
one in the school room when they got there and no one came.  They
waited until eleven and then went home.

"There doesn't seem to be anybody at the Methodist Sunday School
either," said Una.

"I'm GLAD," said Faith.  "I'd hate to think the Methodists were
better at going to Sunday School on rainy Sundays than the
Presbyterians.  But there's no preaching in their Church to-day,
either, so likely their Sunday School is in the afternoon."

Una washed the dishes, doing them quite nicely, for so much had
she learned from Mary Vance.  Faith swept the floor after a
fashion and peeled the potatoes for dinner, cutting her finger in
the process.

"I wish we had something for dinner besides ditto," sighed Una.
"I'm so tired of it.  The Blythe children don't know what ditto
is.  And we NEVER have any pudding.  Nan says Susan would faint
if they had no pudding on Sundays.  Why aren't we like other
people, Faith?"

"I don't want to be like other people," laughed Faith, tying up
her bleeding finger.  "I like being myself.  It's more
interesting.  Jessie Drew is as good a housekeeper as her mother,
but would you want to be as stupid as she is?"

"But our house isn't right.  Mary Vance says so.  She says people
talk about it being so untidy."

Faith had an inspiration.

"We'll clean it all up," she cried.  "We'll go right to work
to-morrow.  It's a real good chance when Aunt Martha is laid up
and can't interfere with us.  We'll have it all lovely and clean
when father comes home, just like it was when Mary went away.
ANY ONE can sweep and dust and wash windows.  People won't be
able to talk about us any more.  Jem Blythe says it's only old
cats that talk, but their talk hurts just as much as anybody's."

"I hope it will be fine to-morrow," said Una, fired with
enthusiasm.  "Oh, Faith, it will be splendid to be all cleaned up
and like other people."

"I hope Aunt Martha's misery will last over to-morrow," said
Faith.  "If it doesn't we won't get a single thing done."

Faith's amiable wish was fulfilled.  The next day found Aunt
Martha still unable to rise.  Carl, too, was still sick and
easily prevailed on to stay in bed.  Neither Faith nor Una had
any idea how sick the boy really was; a watchful mother would
have had a doctor without delay; but there was no mother, and
poor little Carl, with his sore throat and aching head and
crimson cheeks, rolled himself up in his twisted bedclothes and
suffered alone, somewhat comforted by the companionship of a
small green lizard in the pocket of his ragged nighty.

The world was full of summer sunshine after the rain.  It was a
peerless day for house-cleaning and Faith and Una went gaily to
work.

"We'll clean the dining-room and the parlour," said Faith.  "It
wouldn't do to meddle with the study, and it doesn't matter much
about the upstairs.  The first thing is to take everything out."

Accordingly, everything was taken out.  The furniture was piled
on the veranda and lawn and the Methodist graveyard fence was
gaily draped with rugs.  An orgy of sweeping followed, with an
attempt at dusting on Una's part, while Faith washed the windows
of the dining-room, breaking one pane and cracking two in the
process.  Una surveyed the streaked result dubiously.

"They don't look right, somehow," she said.  "Mrs. Elliott's and
Susan's windows just shine and sparkle."

"Never mind.  They let the sunshine through just as well," said
Faith cheerfully.  "They MUST be clean after all the soap and
water I've used, and that's the main thing.  Now, it's past
eleven, so I'll wipe up this mess on the floor and we'll go
outside.  You dust the furniture and I'll shake the rugs.  I'm
going to do it in the graveyard.  I don't want to send dust
flying all over the lawn.

Faith enjoyed the rug shaking.  To stand on Hezekiah Pollock's
tombstone, flapping and shaking rugs, was real fun.  To be sure,
Elder Abraham Clow and his wife, driving past in their capacious
double-seated buggy, seemed to gaze at her in grim disapproval.

"Isn't that a terrible sight?" said Elder Abraham solemnly.

"I would never have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own
eyes," said Mrs. Elder Abraham, more solemnly still.

Faith waved a door mat cheerily at the Clow party.  It did not
worry her that the elder and his wife did not return her
greeting.  Everybody knew that Elder Abraham had never been known
to smile since he had been appointed Superintendent of the Sunday
School fourteen years previously.  But it hurt her that Minnie
and Adella Clow did not wave back.  Faith liked Minnie and
Adella.  Next to the Blythes, they were her best friends in
school and she always helped Adella with her sums.  This was
gratitude for you.  Her friends cut her because she was shaking
rugs in an old graveyard where, as Mary Vance said, not a living
soul had been buried for years.  Faith flounced around to the
veranda, where she found Una grieved in spirit because the Clow
girls had not waved to her, either.

"I suppose they're mad over something," said Faith.  "Perhaps
they're jealous because we play so much in Rainbow Valley with
the Blythes.  Well, just wait till school opens and Adella wants
me to show her how to do her sums!  We'll get square then.  Come
on, let's put the things back in.  I'm tired to death and I don't
believe the rooms will look much better than before we started--
though I shook out pecks of dust in the graveyard.  I HATE
house-cleaning."

It was two o'clock before the tired girls finished the two rooms.
They got a dreary bite in the kitchen and intended to wash the
dishes at once.  But Faith happened to pick up a new story-book
Di Blythe had lent her and was lost to the world until sunset.
Una took a cup of rank tea up to Carl but found him asleep; so
she curled herself up on Jerry's bed and went to sleep too.
Meanwhile, a weird story flew through Glen St. Mary and folks
asked each other seriously what was to be done with those manse
youngsters.

"That is past laughing at, believe ME," said Miss Cornelia to her
husband, with a heavy sigh.  "I couldn't believe it at first.
Miranda Drew brought the story home from the Methodist Sunday
School this afternoon and I simply scoffed at it.  But Mrs. Elder
Abraham says she and the Elder saw it with their own eyes."

"Saw what?" asked Marshall.

"Faith and Una Meredith stayed home from Sunday School this
morning and CLEANED HOUSE," said Miss Cornelia, in accents of
despair.  "When Elder Abraham went home from the church--he had
stayed behind to straighten out the library books--he saw them
shaking rugs in the Methodist graveyard.  I can never look a
Methodist in the face again.  Just think what a scandal it will
make!"

A scandal it assuredly did make, growing more scandalous as it
spread, until the over-harbour people heard that the manse
children had not only cleaned house and put out a washing on
Sunday, but had wound up with an afternoon picnic in the
graveyard while the Methodist Sunday School was going on.  The
only household which remained in blissful ignorance of the
terrible thing was the manse itself; on what Faith and Una fondly
believed to be Tuesday it rained again; for the next three days
it rained; nobody came near the manse; the manse folk went
nowhere; they might have waded through the misty Rainbow Valley
up to Ingleside, but all the Blythe family, save Susan and the
doctor, were away on a visit to Avonlea.

"This is the last of our bread," said Faith, "and the ditto is
done.  If Aunt Martha doesn't get better soon WHAT will we do?"

"We can buy some bread in the village and there's the codfish
Mary dried," said Una.  "But we don't know how to cook it."

"Oh, that's easy," laughed Faith.  "You just boil it."

Boil it they did; but as it did not occur to them to soak it
beforehand it was too salty to eat.  That night they were very
hungry; but by the following day their troubles were over.
Sunshine returned to the world; Carl was well and Aunt Martha's
misery left her as suddenly as it had come; the butcher called at
the manse and chased famine away.  To crown all, the Blythes
returned home, and that evening they and the manse children and
Mary Vance kept sunset tryst once more in Rainbow Valley, where
the daisies were floating upon the grass like spirits of the dew
and the bells on the Tree Lovers rang like fairy chimes in the
scented twilight.



CHAPTER XI. A DREADFUL DISCOVERY

"Well, you kids have gone and done it now," was Mary's greeting,
as she joined them in the Valley.  Miss Cornelia was up at
Ingleside, holding agonized conclave with Anne and Susan, and
Mary hoped that the session might be a long one, for it was all
of two weeks since she had been allowed to revel with her chums
in the dear valley of rainbows.

"Done what?" demanded everybody but Walter, who was day-dreaming
as usual.

"It's you manse young ones, I mean," said Mary.  "It was just
awful of you.  _I_ wouldn't have done such a thing for the world,
and _I_ weren't brought up in a manse--weren't brought up
ANYWHERE--just COME up."

"What have WE done?" asked Faith blankly.

"Done!  You'd BETTER ask!  The talk is something terrible.  I
expect it's ruined your father in this congregation.  He'll never
be able to live it down, poor man!  Everybody blames him for it,
and that isn't fair.  But nothing IS fair in this world.  You
ought to be ashamed of yourselves."

"What HAVE we done?" asked Una again, despairingly.  Faith said
nothing, but her eyes flashed golden-brown scorn at Mary.

"Oh, don't pretend innocence," said Mary, witheringly.
"Everybody knows what you have done."

"_I_ don't," interjected Jem Blythe indignantly.  "Don't let me
catch you making Una cry, Mary Vance.  What are you talking
about?"

"I s'pose you don't know, since you're just back from up west,"
said Mary, somewhat subdued.  Jem could always manage her.  "But
everybody else knows, you'd better believe."

"Knows what?"

"That Faith and Una stayed home from Sunday School last Sunday
and CLEANED HOUSE."

"We didn't," cried Faith and Una, in passionate denial.

Mary looked haughtily at them.

"I didn't suppose you'd deny it, after the way you've combed ME
down for lying," she said.  "What's the good of saying you
didn't?  Everybody knows you DID.  Elder Clow and his wife saw
you.  Some people say it will break up the church, but _I_ don't
go that far.  You ARE nice ones."

Nan Blythe stood up and put her arms around the dazed Faith and
Una.

"They were nice enough to take you in and feed you and clothe you
when you were starving in Mr. Taylor's barn, Mary Vance," she
said.  "You are VERY grateful, I must say."

"I AM grateful," retorted Mary.  "You'd know it if you'd heard me
standing up for Mr. Meredith through thick and thin.  I've
blistered my tongue talking for him this week.  I've said again
and again that he isn't to blame if his young ones did clean
house on Sunday.  He was away--and they knew better."

"But we didn't," protested Una.  "It was MONDAY we cleaned house.
Wasn't it, Faith?"

"Of course it was," said Faith, with flashing eyes.  "We went to
Sunday School in spite of the rain--and no one came--not even
Elder Abraham, for all his talk about fair-weather Christians."

"It was Saturday it rained," said Mary.  "Sunday was as fine as
silk.  I wasn't at Sunday School because I had toothache, but
every one else was and they saw all your stuff out on the lawn.
And Elder Abraham and Mrs. Elder Abraham saw you shaking rugs in
the graveyard."

Una sat down among the daisies and began to cry.

"Look here," said Jem resolutely, "this thing must be cleared up.
SOMEBODY has made a mistake.  Sunday WAS fine, Faith.  How could
you have thought Saturday was Sunday?"

"Prayer-meeting was Thursday night," cried Faith, "and Adam flew
into the soup-pot on Friday when Aunt Martha's cat chased him,
and spoiled our dinner; and Saturday there was a snake in the
cellar and Carl caught it with a forked stick and carried it out,
and Sunday it rained.  So there!"

"Prayer-meeting was Wednesday night," said Mary.  "Elder Baxter
was to lead and he couldn't go Thursday night and it was changed
to Wednesday.  You were just a day out, Faith Meredith, and you
DID work on Sunday."

Suddenly Faith burst into a peal of laughter.

"I suppose we did.  What a joke!"

"It isn't much of a joke for your father," said Mary sourly.

"It'll be all right when people find out it was just a mistake,"
said Faith carelessly.  "We'll explain."

"You can explain till you're black in the face," said Mary, "but
a lie like that'll travel faster'n further than you ever will.
I'VE seen more of the world than you and _I_ know.  Besides,
there are plenty of folks won't believe it was a mistake."

"They will if I tell them," said Faith.

"You can't tell everybody," said Mary.  "No, I tell you you've
disgraced your father."

Una's evening was spoiled by this dire reflection, but Faith
refused to be made uncomfortable.  Besides, she had a plan that
would put everything right.  So she put the past with its mistake
behind her and gave herself over to enjoyment of the present.
Jem went away to fish and Walter came out of his reverie and
proceeded to describe the woods of heaven.  Mary pricked up her
ears and listened respectfully.  Despite her awe of Walter she
revelled in his "book talk."  It always gave her a delightful
sensation.  Walter had been reading his Coleridge that day, and
he pictured a heaven where

    "There were gardens bright with sinuous rills
        Where blossomed many an incense bearing tree,
    And there were forests ancient as the hills
        Enfolding sunny spots of greenery."

"I didn't know there was any woods in heaven," said Mary, with a
long breath.  "I thought it was all streets--and streets--AND
streets."

"Of course there are woods," said Nan.  "Mother can't live
without trees and I can't, so what would be the use of going to
heaven if there weren't any trees?"

"There are cities, too," said the young dreamer, "splendid
cities--coloured just like the sunset, with sapphire towers and
rainbow domes.  They are built of gold and diamonds--whole
streets of diamonds, flashing like the sun.  In the squares there
are crystal fountains kissed by the light, and everywhere the
asphodel blooms--the flower of heaven."

"Fancy!" said Mary.  "I saw the main street in Charlottetown once
and I thought it was real grand, but I s'pose it's nothing to
heaven.  Well, it all sounds gorgeous the way you tell it, but
won't it be kind of dull, too?"

"Oh, I guess we can have some fun when the angels' backs are
turned," said Faith comfortably.

"Heaven is ALL fun," declared Di.

"The Bible doesn't say so," cried Mary, who had read so much of
the Bible on Sunday afternoons under Miss Cornelia's eye that she
now considered herself quite an authority on it.

"Mother says the Bible language is figurative," said Nan.

"Does that mean that it isn't true?" asked Mary hopefully.

"No--not exactly--but I think it means that heaven will be just
like what you'd like it to be."

"I'd like it to be just like Rainbow Valley," said Mary, "with
all you kids to gas and play with.  THAT'S good enough for me.
Anyhow, we can't go to heaven till we're dead and maybe not then,
so what's the use of worrying?  Here's Jem with a string of trout
and it's my turn to fry them."

"We ought to know more about heaven than Walter does when we're
the minister's family," said Una, as they walked home that night.

"We KNOW just as much, but Walter can IMAGINE," said Faith.
"Mrs. Elliott says he gets it from his mother."

"I do wish we hadn't made that mistake about Sunday," sighed Una.

"Don't worry over that.  I've thought of a great plan to explain
so that everybody will know," said Faith.  "Just wait till
to-morrow night."



CHAPTER XII. AN EXPLANATION AND A DARE

The Rev. Dr. Cooper preached in Glen St. Mary the next evening
and the Presbyterian Church was crowded with people from near and
far.  The Reverend Doctor was reputed to be a very eloquent
speaker; and, bearing in mind the old dictum that a minister
should take his best clothes to the city and his best sermons to
the country, he delivered a very scholarly and impressive
discourse.  But when the folks went home that night it was not of
Dr. Cooper's sermon they talked.  They had completely forgotten
all about it.

Dr. Cooper had concluded with a fervent appeal, had wiped the
perspiration from his massive brow, had said "Let us pray" as he
was famed for saying it, and had duly prayed.  There was a slight
pause.  In Glen St. Mary church the old fashion of taking the
collection after the sermon instead of before still held--mainly
because the Methodists had adopted the new fashion first, and
Miss Cornelia and Elder Clow would not hear of following where
Methodists had led.  Charles Baxter and Thomas Douglas, whose
duty it was to pass the plates, were on the point of rising to
their feet.  The organist had got out the music of her anthem and
the choir had cleared its throat.  Suddenly Faith Meredith rose
in the manse pew, walked up to the pulpit platform, and faced the
amazed audience.

Miss Cornelia half rose in her seat and then sat down again.  Her
pew was far back and it occurred to her that whatever Faith meant
to do or say would be half done or said before she could reach
her.  There was no use making the exhibition worse than it had to
be.  With an anguished glance at Mrs. Dr. Blythe, and another at
Deacon Warren of the Methodist Church, Miss Cornelia resigned
herself to another scandal.

"If the child was only dressed decently itself," she groaned in
spirit.

Faith, having spilled ink on her good dress, had serenely put on
an old one of faded pink print.  A caticornered rent in the skirt
had been darned with scarlet tracing cotton and the hem had been
let down, showing a bright strip of unfaded pink around the
skirt.  But Faith was not thinking of her clothes at all.  She
was feeling suddenly nervous.  What had seemed easy in
imagination was rather hard in reality.  Confronted by all those
staring questioning eyes Faith's courage almost failed her.  The
lights were so bright, the silence so awesome.  She thought she
could not speak after all.  But she MUST--her father MUST be
cleared of suspicion. Only--the words would NOT come.

Una's little pearl-pure face gleamed up at her beseechingly from
the manse pew.  The Blythe children were lost in amazement.  Back
under the gallery Faith saw the sweet graciousness of Miss
Rosemary West's smile and the amusement of Miss Ellen's.  But
none of these helped her.  It was Bertie Shakespeare Drew who
saved the situation.  Bertie Shakespeare sat in the front seat of
the gallery and he made a derisive face at Faith.  Faith promptly
made a dreadful one back at him, and, in her anger over being
grimaced at by Bertie Shakespeare, forgot her stage fright.  She
found her voice and spoke out clearly and bravely.

"I want to explain something," she said, "and I want to do it now
because everybody will hear it that heard the other.  People are
saying that Una and I stayed home last Sunday and cleaned house
instead of going to Sunday School.  Well, we did--but we didn't
mean to.  We got mixed up in the days of the week.  It was all
Elder Baxter's fault"--sensation in Baxter's pew--"because he
went and changed the prayer-meeting to Wednesday night and then
we thought Thursday was Friday and so on till we thought Saturday
was Sunday.  Carl was laid up sick and so was Aunt Martha, so
they couldn't put us right.  We went to Sunday School in all that
rain on Saturday and nobody came.  And then we thought we'd clean
house on Monday and stop old cats from talking about how dirty
the manse was"--general sensation all over the church--"and we
did.  I shook the rugs in the Methodist graveyard because it was
such a convenient place and not because I meant to be
disrespectful of the dead.  It isn't the dead folks who have made
the fuss over this--it's the living folks.  And it isn't right
for any of you to blame my father for this, because he was away
and didn't know, and anyhow we thought it was Monday.  He's just
the best father that ever lived in the world and we love him with
all our hearts."

Faith's bravado ebbed out in a sob.  She ran down the steps and
flashed out of the side door of the church.  There the friendly
starlit, summer night comforted her and the ache went out of her
eyes and throat.  She felt very happy.  The dreadful explanation
was over and everybody knew now that her father wasn't to blame
and that she and Una were not so wicked as to have cleaned house
knowingly on Sunday.

Inside the church people gazed blankly at each other, but Thomas
Douglas rose and walked up the aisle with a set face.  HIS duty
was clear; the collection must be taken if the skies fell.  Taken
it was; the choir sang the anthem, with a dismal conviction that
it fell terribly flat, and Dr. Cooper gave out the concluding
hymn and pronounced the benediction with considerably less
unction than usual.  The Reverend Doctor had a sense of humour
and Faith's performance tickled him.  Besides, John Meredith was
well known in Presbyterian circles.

Mr. Meredith returned home the next afternoon, but before his
coming Faith contrived to scandalize Glen St. Mary again.  In the
reaction from Sunday evening's intensity and strain she was
especially full of what Miss Cornelia would have called
"devilment" on Monday.  This led her to dare Walter Blythe to
ride through Main Street on a pig, while she rode another one.

The pigs in question were two tall, lank animals, supposed to
belong to Bertie Shakespeare Drew's father, which had been
haunting the roadside by the manse for a couple of weeks.  Walter
did not want to ride a pig through Glen St. Mary, but whatever
Faith Meredith dared him to do must be done.  They tore down the
hill and through the village, Faith bent double with laughter
over her terrified courser, Walter crimson with shame.  They tore
past the minister himself, just coming home from the station; he,
being a little less dreamy and abstracted than usual--owing to
having had a talk on the train with Miss Cornelia who always
wakened him up temporarily--noticed them, and thought he really
must speak to Faith about it and tell her that such conduct was
not seemly.  But he had forgotten the trifling incident by the
time he reached home.  They passed Mrs. Alec Davis, who shrieked
in horror, and they passed Miss Rosemary West who laughed and
sighed.  Finally, just before the pigs swooped into Bertie
Shakespeare Drew's back yard, never to emerge therefrom again, so
great had been the shock to their nerves--Faith and Walter jumped
off, as Dr. and Mrs. Blythe drove swiftly by.

"So that is how you bring up your boys," said Gilbert with mock
severity.

"Perhaps I do spoil them a little," said Anne contritely, "but,
oh, Gilbert, when I think of my own childhood before I came to
Green Gables I haven't the heart to be very strict.  How hungry
for love and fun I was--an unloved little drudge with never a
chance to play!  They do have such good times with the manse
children."

"What about the poor pigs?" asked Gilbert.

Anne tried to look sober and failed.

"Do you really think it hurt them?" she said.  "I don't think
anything could hurt those animals.  They've been the plague of
the neighbourhood this summer and the Drews WON'T shut them up.
But I'll talk to Walter--if I can keep from laughing when I do
it."

Miss Cornelia came up to Ingleside that evening to relieve her
feelings over Sunday night.  To her surprise she found that Anne
did not view Faith's performance in quite the same light as she
did.

"I thought there was something brave and pathetic in her getting
up there before that churchful of people, to confess," she said.
"You could see she was frightened to death--yet she was bound to
clear her father.  I loved her for it."

"Oh, of course, the poor child meant well," sighed Miss Cornelia,
"but just the same it was a terrible thing to do, and is making
more talk than the house-cleaning on Sunday.  THAT had begun to
die away, and this has started it all up again.  Rosemary West is
like you--she said last night as she left the church that it was
a plucky thing for Faith to do, but it made her feel sorry for
the child, too.  Miss Ellen thought it all a good joke, and said
she hadn't had as much fun in church for years.  Of course THEY
don't care--they are Episcopalians.  But we Presbyterians feel
it.  And there were so many hotel people there that night and
scores of Methodists. Mrs. Leander Crawford cried, she felt so
bad.  And Mrs. Alec Davis said the little hussy ought to be
spanked."

"Mrs. Leander Crawford is always crying in church," said Susan
contemptuously.  "She cries over every affecting thing the
minister says.  But you do not often see her name on a
subscription list, Mrs. Dr. dear.  Tears come cheaper.  She tried
to talk to me one day about Aunt Martha being such a dirty
housekeeper; and I wanted to say, 'Every one knows that YOU have
been seen mixing up cakes in the kitchen wash-pan, Mrs. Leander
Crawford!'  But I did not say it, Mrs. Dr. dear, because I have
too much respect for myself to condescend to argue with the likes
of her.  But I could tell worse things than THAT of Mrs. Leander
Crawford, if I was disposed to gossip.  And as for Mrs. Alec
Davis, if she had said that to me, Mrs. Dr. dear, do you know
what I would have said?  I would have said, 'I have no doubt you
would like to spank Faith, Mrs. Davis, but you will never have
the chance to spank a minister's daughter either in this world or
in that which is to come.'"

"If poor Faith had only been decently dressed," lamented Miss
Cornelia again, "it wouldn't have been quite that bad.  But that
dress looked dreadful, as she stood there upon the platform."

"It was clean, though, Mrs. Dr. dear," said Susan.  "They ARE
clean children.  They may be very heedless and reckless, Mrs. Dr.
dear, and I am not saying they are not, but they NEVER forget to
wash behind their ears."

"The idea of Faith forgetting what day was Sunday," persisted
Miss Cornelia.  "She will grow up just as careless and
impractical as her father, believe ME.  I suppose Carl would have
known better if he hadn't been sick.  I don't know what was wrong
with him, but I think it very likely he had been eating those
blueberries that grew in the graveyard.  No wonder they made him
sick.  If I was a Methodist I'd try to keep my graveyard cleaned
up at least."

"I am of the opinion that Carl only ate the sours that grow on
the dyke," said Susan hopefully.  "I do not think ANY minister's
son would eat blueberries that grew on the graves of dead people.
You know it would not be so bad, Mrs. Dr. dear, to eat things
that grew on the dyke."

"The worst of last night's performance was the face Faith made
made at somebody in the congregation before she started in," said
Miss Cornelia.  "Elder Clow declares she made it at him.  And DID
you hear that she was seen riding on a pig to-day?"

"I saw her.  Walter was with her.  I gave him a little--a VERY
little--scolding about it.  He did not say much, but he gave me
the impression that it had been his idea and that Faith was not
to blame."

"I do not not believe THAT, Mrs. Dr. dear," cried Susan, up in
arms.  "That is just Walter's way--to take the blame on himself.
But you know as well as I do, Mrs. Dr. dear, that that blessed
child would never have thought of riding on a pig, even if he
does write poetry."

"Oh, there's no doubt the notion was hatched in Faith Meredith's
brain," said Miss Cornelia.  "And I don't say that I'm sorry that
Amos Drew's old pigs did get their come-uppance for once.  But
the minister's daughter!"

"AND the doctor's son!" said Anne, mimicking Miss Cornelia's
tone.  Then she laughed.  "Dear Miss Cornelia, they're only
little children.  And you KNOW they've never yet done anything
bad--they're just heedless and impulsive--as I was myself once.
They'll grow sedate and sober--as I've done."

Miss Cornelia laughed, too.

"There are times, Anne dearie, when I know by your eyes that YOUR
soberness is put on like a garment and you're really aching to do
something wild and young again.  Well, I feel encouraged.
Somehow, a talk with you always does have that effect on me.
Now, when I go to see Barbara Samson, it's just the opposite.
She makes me feel that everything's wrong and always will be.
But of course living all your life with a man like Joe Samson
wouldn't be exactly cheering."

"It is a very strange thing to think that she married Joe Samson
after all her chances," remarked Susan.  "She was much sought
after when she was a girl.  She used to boast to me that she had
twenty-one beaus and Mr. Pethick."

"What was Mr. Pethick?"

"Well, he was a sort of hanger-on, Mrs. Dr. dear, but you could
not exactly call him a beau.  He did not really have any
intentions.  Twenty-one beaus--and me that never had one!  But
Barbara went through the woods and picked up the crooked stick
after all.  And yet they say her husband can make better baking
powder biscuits than she can, and she always gets him to make
them when company comes to tea."

"Which reminds ME that I have company coming to tea to-morrow and
I must go home and set my bread," said Miss Cornelia.  "Mary said
she could set it and no doubt she could.  But while I live and
move and have my being _I_ set my own bread, believe me."

"How is Mary getting on?" asked Anne.

"I've no fault to find with Mary," said Miss Cornelia rather
gloomily.  "She's getting some flesh on her bones and she's clean
and respectful--though there's more in her than _I_ can fathom.
She's a sly puss.  If you dug for a thousand years you couldn't
get to the bottom of that child's mind, believe ME!  As for work,
I never saw anything like her.  She EATS it up.  Mrs. Wiley may
have been cruel to her, but folks needn't say she made Mary work.
Mary's a born worker.  Sometimes I wonder which will wear out
first--her legs or her tongue.  I don't have enough to do to keep
me out of mischief these days.  I'll be real glad when school
opens, for then I'll have something to do again.  Mary doesn't
want to go to school, but I put my foot down and said that go she
must.  I shall NOT have the Methodists saying that I kept her out
of school while I lolled in idleness."



CHAPTER XIII. THE HOUSE ON THE HILL

There was a little unfailing spring, always icy cold and crystal
pure, in a certain birch-screened hollow of Rainbow Valley in the
lower corner near the marsh.  Not a great many people knew of its
existence.  The manse and Ingleside children knew, of course, as
they knew everything else about the magic valley.  Occasionally
they went there to get a drink, and it figured in many of their
plays as a fountain of old romance.  Anne knew of it and loved it
because it somehow reminded her of the beloved Dryad's Bubble at
Green Gables.  Rosemary West knew of it; it was her fountain of
romance, too.  Eighteen years ago she had sat behind it one
spring twilight and heard young Martin Crawford stammer out a
confession of fervent, boyish love.  She had whispered her own
secret in return, and they had kissed and promised by the wild
wood spring.  They had never stood together by it again--Martin
had sailed on his fatal voyage soon after; but to Rosemary West
it was always a sacred spot, hallowed by that immortal hour of
youth and love.  Whenever she passed near it she turned aside to
hold a secret tryst with an old dream--a dream from which the
pain had long gone, leaving only its unforgettable sweetness.

The spring was a hidden thing.  You might have passed within ten
feet of it and never have suspected its existence.  Two
generations past a huge old pine had fallen almost across it.
Nothing was left of the tree but its crumbling trunk out of which
the ferns grew thickly, making a green roof and a lacy screen for
the water.  A maple-tree grew beside it with a curiously gnarled
and twisted trunk, creeping along the ground for a little way
before shooting up into the air, and so forming a quaint seat;
and September had flung a scarf of pale smoke-blue asters around
the hollow.

John Meredith, taking the cross-lots road through Rainbow Valley
on his way home from some pastoral visitations around the Harbour
head one evening, turned aside to drink of the little spring.
Walter Blythe had shown it to him one afternoon only a few days
before, and they had had a long talk together on the maple seat.
John Meredith, under all his shyness and aloofness, had the heart
of a boy.  He had been called Jack in his youth, though nobody in
Glen St. Mary would ever have believed it.  Walter and he had
taken to each other and had talked unreservedly.  Mr. Meredith
found his way into some sealed and sacred chambers of the lad's
soul wherein not even Di had ever looked.  They were to be chums
from that friendly hour and Walter knew that he would never be
frightened of the minister again.

"I never believed before that it was possible to get really
acquainted with a minister," he told his mother that night.

John Meredith drank from his slender white hand, whose grip of
steel always surprised people who were unacquainted with it, and
then sat down on the maple seat.  He was in no hurry to go home;
this was a beautiful spot and he was mentally weary after a round
of rather uninspiring conversations with many good and stupid
people.  The moon was rising.  Rainbow Valley was wind-haunted
and star-sentinelled only where he was, but afar from the upper
end came the gay notes of children's laughter and voices.

The ethereal beauty of the asters in the moonlight, the glimmer
of the little spring, the soft croon of the brook, the wavering
grace of the brackens all wove a white magic round John Meredith.
He forgot congregational worries and spiritual problems; the
years slipped away from him; he was a young divinity student
again and the roses of June were blooming red and fragrant on the
dark, queenly head of his Cecilia.  He sat there and dreamed like
any boy.  And it was at this propitious moment that Rosemary West
stepped aside from the by-path and stood beside him in that
dangerous, spell-weaving place.  John Meredith stood up as she
came in and saw her--REALLY saw her--for the first time.

He had met her in his church once or twice and shaken hands with
her abstractedly as he did with anyone he happened to encounter
on his way down the aisle.  He had never met her elsewhere, for
the Wests were Episcopalians, with church affinities in
Lowbridge, and no occasion for calling upon them had ever arisen.
Before to-night, if anyone had asked John Meredith what Rosemary
West looked like he would not have had the slightest notion.  But
he was never to forget her, as she appeared to him in the glamour
of kind moonlight by the spring.

She was certainly not in the least like Cecilia, who had always
been his ideal of womanly beauty.  Cecilia had been small and
dark and vivacious--Rosemary West was tall and fair and placid,
yet John Meredith thought he had never seen so beautiful a woman.

She was bareheaded and her golden hair--hair of a warm gold,
"molasses taffy" colour as Di Blythe had said--was pinned in
sleek, close coils over her head; she had large, tranquil, blue
eyes that always seemed full of friendliness, a high white
forehead and a finely shaped face.

Rosemary West was always called a "sweet woman."  She was so
sweet that even her high-bred, stately air had never gained for
her the reputation of being "stuck-up," which it would inevitably
have done in the case of anyone else in Glen St. Mary.  Life had
taught her to be brave, to be patient, to love, to forgive.  She
had watched the ship on which her lover went sailing out of Four
Winds Harbour into the sunset.  But, though she watched long, she
had never seen it coming sailing back.  That vigil had taken
girlhood from her eyes, yet she kept her youth to a marvellous
degree.  Perhaps this was because she always seemed to preserve
that attitude of delighted surprise towards life which most of us
leave behind in childhood--an attitude which not only made
Rosemary herself seem young, but flung a pleasing illusion of
youth over the consciousness of every one who talked to her.

John Meredith was startled by her loveliness and Rosemary was
startled by his presence.  She had never thought she would find
anyone by that remote spring, least of all the recluse of Glen
St. Mary manse.  She almost dropped the heavy armful of books she
was carrying home from the Glen lending library, and then, to
cover her confusion, she told one of those small fibs which even
the best of women do tell at times.

"I--I came for a drink," she said, stammering a little, in answer
to Mr. Meredith's grave "good evening, Miss West."  She felt that
she was an unpardonable goose and she longed to shake herself.
But John Meredith was not a vain man and he knew she would likely
have been as much startled had she met old Elder Clow in that
unexpected fashion.  Her confusion put him at ease and he forgot
to be shy; besides, even the shyest of men can sometimes be quite
audacious in moonlight.

"Let me get you a cup," he said smiling.  There was a cup near
by, if he had only known it, a cracked, handleless blue cup
secreted under the maple by the Rainbow Valley children; but he
did not know it, so he stepped out to one of the birch-trees and
stripped a bit of its white skin away.  Deftly he fashioned this
into a three-cornered cup, filled it from the spring, and handed
it to Rosemary.

Rosemary took it and drank every drop to punish herself for her
fib, for she was not in the least thirsty, and to drink a fairly
large cupful of water when you are not thirsty is somewhat of an
ordeal.  Yet the memory of that draught was to be very pleasant
to Rosemary.  In after years it seemed to her that there was
something sacramental about it.  Perhaps this was because of what
the minister did when she handed him back the cup.  He stooped
again and filled it and drank of it himself.  It was only by
accident that he put his lips just where Rosemary had put hers,
and Rosemary knew it.  Nevertheless, it had a curious
significance for her.  They two had drunk of the same cup.  She
remembered idly that an old aunt of hers used to say that when
two people did this their after-lives would be linked in some
fashion, whether for good or ill.

John Meredith held the cup uncertainly.  He did not know what to
do with it.  The logical thing would have been to toss it away,
but somehow he was disinclined to do this.  Rosemary held out her
hand for it.

"Will you let me have it?" she said.  "You made it so knackily.
I never saw anyone make a birch cup so since my little brother
used to make them long ago--before he died."

"I learned how to make them when _I_ was a boy, camping out one
summer.  An old hunter taught me," said Mr. Meredith.  "Let me
carry your books, Miss West."

Rosemary was startled into another fib and said oh, they were not
heavy.  But the minister took them from her with quite a
masterful air and they walked away together.  It was the first
time Rosemary had stood by the valley spring without thinking of
Martin Crawford.  The mystic tryst had been broken.

The little by-path wound around the marsh and then struck up the
long wooded hill on the top of which Rosemary lived.  Beyond,
through the trees, they could see the moonlight shining across
the level summer fields.  But the little path was shadowy and
narrow.  Trees crowded over it, and trees are never quite as
friendly to human beings after nightfall as they are in daylight.
They wrap themselves away from us.  They whisper and plot
furtively.  If they reach out a hand to us it has a hostile,
tentative touch.  People walking amid trees after night always
draw closer together instinctively and involuntarily, making an
alliance, physical and mental, against certain alien powers
around them.  Rosemary's dress brushed against John Meredith as
they walked.  Not even an absent-minded minister, who was after
all a young man still, though he firmly believed he had outlived
romance, could be insensible to the charm of the night and the
path and the companion.

It is never quite safe to think we have done with life.  When we
imagine we have finished our story fate has a trick of turning
the page and showing us yet another chapter.  These two people
each thought their hearts belonged irrevocably to the past; but
they both found their walk up that hill very pleasant.  Rosemary
thought the Glen minister was by no means as shy and tongue-tied
as he had been represented.  He seemed to find no difficulty in
talking easily and freely.  Glen housewives would have been
amazed had they heard him.  But then so many Glen housewives
talked only gossip and the price of eggs, and John Meredith was
not interested in either.  He talked to Rosemary of books and
music and wide-world doings and something of his own history, and
found that she could understand and respond.  Rosemary, it
appeared, possessed a book which Mr. Meredith had not read and
wished to read.  She offered to lend it to him and when they
reached the old homestead on the hill he went in to get it.

The house itself was an old-fashioned gray one, hung with vines,
through which the light in the sitting-room winked in friendly
fashion.  It looked down the Glen, over the harbour, silvered in
the moonlight, to the sand-dunes and the moaning ocean.  They
walked in through a garden that always seemed to smell of roses,
even when no roses were in bloom.  There was a sisterhood of
lilies at the gate and a ribbon of asters on either side of the
broad walk, and a lacery of fir trees on the hill's edge beyond
the house.

"You have the whole world at your doorstep here," said John
Meredith, with a long breath.  "What a view--what an outlook!  At
times I feel stifled down there in the Glen.  You can breathe up
here."

"It is calm to-night," said Rosemary laughing.  "If there were a
wind it would blow your breath away.  We get 'a' the airts the
wind can blow' up here.  This place should be called Four Winds
instead of the Harbour."

"I like wind," he said.  "A day when there is no wind seems to me
DEAD.  A windy day wakes me up."  He gave a conscious laugh.  "On
a calm day I fall into day dreams.  No doubt you know my
reputation, Miss West.  If I cut you dead the next time we meet
don't put it down to bad manners.  Please understand that it is
only abstraction and forgive me--and speak to me."

They found Ellen West in the sitting room when they went in.  She
laid her glasses down on the book she had been reading and looked
at them in amazement tinctured with something else.  But she
shook hands amiably with Mr. Meredith and he sat down and talked
to her, while Rosemary hunted out his book.

Ellen West was ten years older than Rosemary, and so different
from her that it was hard to believe they were sisters.  She was
dark and massive, with black hair, thick, black eyebrows and eyes
of the clear, slaty blue of the gulf water in a north wind.  She
had a rather stern, forbidding look, but she was in reality very
jolly, with a hearty, gurgling laugh and a deep, mellow, pleasant
voice with a suggestion of masculinity about it.  She had once
remarked to Rosemary that she would really like to have a talk
with that Presbyterian minister at the Glen, to see if he could
find a word to say to a woman when he was cornered.  She had her
chance now and she tackled him on world politics.  Miss Ellen,
who was a great reader, had been devouring a book on the Kaiser
of Germany, and she demanded Mr. Meredith's opinion of him.

"A dangerous man," was his answer.

"I believe you!" Miss Ellen nodded.  "Mark my words, Mr.
Meredith, that man is going to fight somebody yet.  He's ACHING
to.  He is going to set the world on fire."

"If you mean that he will wantonly precipitate a great war I
hardly think so," said Mr. Meredith.  "The day has gone by for
that sort of thing."

"Bless you, it hasn't," rumbled Ellen.  "The day never goes by
for men and nations to make asses of themselves and take to the
fists.  The millenniun isn't THAT near, Mr. Meredith, and YOU
don't think it is any more than I do.  As for this Kaiser, mark
my words, he is going to make a heap of trouble"--and Miss Ellen
prodded her book emphatically with her long finger.  "Yes, if he
isn't nipped in the bud he's going to make trouble.  WE'LL live
to see it--you and I will live to see it, Mr. Meredith.  And who
is going to nip him?  England should, but she won't.  WHO is
going to nip him?  Tell me that, Mr. Meredith."

Mr. Meredith couldn't tell her, but they plunged into a
discussion of German militarism that lasted long after Rosemary
had found the book.  Rosemary said nothing, but sat in a little
rocker behind Ellen and stroked an important black cat
meditatively.  John Meredith hunted big game in Europe with
Ellen, but he looked oftener at Rosemary than at Ellen, and Ellen
noticed it.  After Rosemary had gone to the door with him and
come back Ellen rose and looked at her accusingly.

"Rosemary West, that man has a notion of courting you."

Rosemary quivered.  Ellen's speech was like a blow to her.  It
rubbed all the bloom off the pleasant evening.  But she would not
let Ellen see how it hurt her.

"Nonsense," she said, and laughed, a little too carelessly.  "You
see a beau for me in every bush, Ellen.  Why he told me all about
his wife to-night--how much she was to him--how empty her death
had left the world."

"Well, that may be HIS way of courting," retorted Ellen.  "Men
have all kinds of ways, I understand.  But don't forget your
promise, Rosemary."

"There is no need of my either forgetting or remembering it,"
said Rosemary, a little wearily.  "YOU forget that I'm an old
maid, Ellen.  It is only your sisterly delusion that I am still
young and blooming and dangerous.  Mr. Meredith merely wants to
be a friend--if he wants that much itself.  He'll forget us both
long before he gets back to the manse."

"I've no objection to your being friends with him," conceded
Ellen, "but it musn't go beyond friendship, remember.  I'm always
suspicious of widowers.  They are not given to romantic ideas
about friendship.  They're apt to mean business.  As for this
Presbyterian man, what do they call him shy for?  He's not a bit
shy, though he may be absent-minded--so absent-minded that he
forgot to say goodnight to ME when you started to go to the door
with him.  He's got brains, too.  There's so few men round here
that can talk sense to a body.  I've enjoyed the evening.  I
wouldn't mind seeing more of him.  But no philandering, Rosemary,
mind you--no philandering."

Rosemary was quite used to being warned by Ellen from
philandering if she so much as talked five minutes to any
marriageable man under eighty or over eighteen.  She had always
laughed at the warning with unfeigned amusement.  This time it
did not amuse her--it irritated her a little.  Who wanted to
philander?

"Don't be such a goose, Ellen," she said with unaccustomed
shortness as she took her lamp.  She went upstairs without saying
goodnight.

Ellen shook her head dubiously and looked at the black cat.

"What is she so cross about, St. George?" she asked.  "When you
howl you're hit, I've always heard, George.  But she promised,
Saint--she promised, and we Wests always keep our word.  So it
won't matter if he does want to philander, George.  She promised.
I won't worry."

Upstairs, in her room, Rosemary sat for a long while looking out
of the window across the moonlit garden to the distant, shining
harbour.  She felt vaguely upset and unsettled.  She was suddenly
tired of outworn dreams.  And in the garden the petals of the
last red rose were scattered by a sudden little wind.  Summer was
over--it was autumn.



CHAPTER XIV. MRS. ALEC DAVIS MAKES A CALL

John Meredith walked slowly home.  At first he thought a little
about Rosemary, but by the time he reached Rainbow Valley he had
forgotten all about her and was meditating on a point regarding
German theology which Ellen had raised.  He passed through
Rainbow Valley and knew it not.  The charm of Rainbow Valley had
no potency against German theology.  When he reached the manse he
went to his study and took down a bulky volume in order to see
which had been right, he or Ellen.  He remained immersed in its
mazes until dawn, struck a new trail of speculation and pursued
it like a sleuth hound for the next week, utterly lost to the
world, his parish and his family.  He read day and night; he
forgot to go to his meals when Una was not there to drag him to
them; he never thought about Rosemary or Ellen again.  Old Mrs.
Marshall, over-harbour, was very ill and sent for him, but the
message lay unheeded on his desk and gathered dust.  Mrs.
Marshall recovered but never forgave him.  A young couple came to
the manse to be married and Mr. Meredith, with unbrushed hair, in
carpet slippers and faded dressing gown, married them.  To be
sure, he began by reading the funeral service to them and got
along as far as "ashes to ashes and dust to dust" before he
vaguely suspected that something was wrong.

"Dear me," he said absently, "that is strange--very strange."

The bride, who was very nervous, began to cry.  The bridegroom,
who was not in the least nervous, giggled.

"Please, sir, I think you're burying us instead of marrying us,"
he said.

"Excuse me," said Mr. Meredith, as it it did not matter much.  He
turned up the marriage service and got through with it, but the
bride never felt quite properly married for the rest of her life.

He forgot his prayer-meeting again--but that did not matter, for
it was a wet night and nobody came.  He might even have forgotten
his Sunday service if it had not been for Mrs. Alec Davis.  Aunt
Martha came in on Saturday afternoon and told him that Mrs. Davis
was in the parlour and wanted to see him.  Mr. Meredith sighed.
Mrs. Davis was the only woman in Glen St. Mary church whom he
positively detested.  Unfortunately, she was also the richest,
and his board of managers had warned Mr. Meredith against
offending her. Mr. Meredith seldom thought of such a worldly
matter as his stipend; but the managers were more practical.
Also, they were astute.  Without mentioning money, they contrived
to instil into Mr. Meredith's mind a conviction that he should
not offend Mrs. Davis.  Otherwise, he would likely have
forgotten all about her as soon as Aunt Martha had gone out.  As
it was, he turned down his Ewald with a feeling of annoyance and
went across the hall to the parlour.

Mrs. Davis was sitting on the sofa, looking about her with an air
of scornful disapproval.

What a scandalous room!  There were no curtains on the window.
Mrs. Davis did not know that Faith and Una had taken them down
the day before to use as court trains in one of their plays and
had forgotten to put them up again, but she could not have
accused those windows more fiercely if she had known.  The blinds
were cracked and torn.  The pictures on the walls were crooked;
the rugs were awry; the vases were full of faded flowers; the
dust lay in heaps--literally in heaps.

"What are we coming to?" Mrs. Davis asked herself, and then
primmed up her unbeautiful mouth.

Jerry and Carl had been whooping and sliding down the banisters
as she came through the hall.  They did not see her and continued
whooping and sliding, and Mrs. Davis was convinced they did it on
purpose.  Faith's pet rooster ambled through the hall, stood in
the parlour doorway and looked at her.  Not liking her looks, he
did not venture in.  Mrs. Davis gave a scornful sniff.  A pretty
manse, indeed, where roosters paraded the halls and stared people
out of countenance.

"Shoo, there," commanded Mrs. Davis, poking her flounced,
changeable-silk parasol at him.

Adam shooed.  He was a wise rooster and Mrs. Davis had wrung the
necks of so many roosters with her own fair hands in the course
of her fifty years that an air of the executioner seemed to hang
around her.  Adam scuttled through the hall as the minister came
in.

Mr. Meredith still wore slippers and dressing gown, and his dark
hair still fell in uncared-for locks over his high brow.  But he
looked the gentleman he was; and Mrs. Alec Davis, in her silk
dress and beplumed bonnet, and kid gloves and gold chain looked
the vulgar, coarse-souled woman she was.  Each felt the
antagonisn of the other's personality.  Mr. Meredith shrank, but
Mrs. Davis girded up her loins for the fray.  She had come to the
manse to propose a certain thing to the minister and she meant to
lose no time in proposing it.  She was going to do him a favour--
a great favour--and the sooner he was made aware of it the
better.  She had been thinking about it all summer and had come
to a decision at last.  This was all that mattered, Mrs. Davis
thought.  When she decided a thing it WAS decided.  Nobody else
had any say in the matter.  That had always been her attitude.
When she had made her mind up to marry Alec Davis she had married
him and that was the end to it.  Alec had never known how it
happened, but what odds?  So in this case--Mrs. Davis had
arranged everything to her own satisfaction.  Now it only
remained to inform Mr. Meredith.

"Will you please shut that door?" said Mrs. Davis, unprimming her
mouth slightly to say it, but speaking with asperity.  "I have
something important to say, and I can't say it with that racket
in the hall."

Mr. Meredith shut the door meekly.  Then he sat down before Mrs.
Davis.  He was not wholly aware of her yet.  His mind was still
wrestling with Ewald's arguments.  Mrs. Davis sensed this
detachment and it annoyed her.

"I have come to tell you, Mr. Meredith," she said aggressively,
"that I have decided to adopt Una."

"To--adopt--Una!"  Mr. Meredith gazed at her blankly, not
understanding in the least.

"Yes. I've been thinking it over for some time.  I have often
thought of adopting a child, since my husband's death.  But it
seemed so hard to get a suitable one.  It is very few children I
would want to take into MY home.  I wouldn't think of taking a
home child--some outcast of the slums in all probability.  And
there is hardly ever any other child to be got.  One of the
fishermen down at the harbour died last fall and left six
youngsters.  They tried to get me to take one, but I soon gave
them to understand that I had no idea of adopting trash like
that.  Their grandfather stole a horse.  Besides, they were all
boys and I wanted a girl--a quiet, obedient girl that I could
train up to be a lady.  Una will suit me exactly.  She would be a
nice little thing if she was properly looked after--so different
from Faith.  I would never dream of adopting Faith.  But I'll
take Una and I'll give her a good home, and up-bringing, Mr.
Meredith, and if she behaves herself I'll leave her all my money
when I die.  Not one of my own relatives shall have a cent of it
in any case, I'm determined on that.  It was the idea of
aggravating them that set me to thinking of adopting a child as
much as anything in the first place.  Una shall be well dressed
and educated and trained, Mr. Meredith, and I shall give her
music and painting lessons and treat her as if she was my own."

Mr. Meredith was wide enough awake by this time.  There was a
faint flush in his pale cheek and a dangerous light in his fine
dark eyes.  Was this woman, whose vulgarity and consciousness of
money oozed out of her at every pore, actually asking him to give
her Una--his dear little wistful Una with Cecilia's own dark-blue
eyes--the child whom the dying mother had clasped to her heart
after the other children had been led weeping from the room.
Cecilia had clung to her baby until the gates of death had shut
between them.  She had looked over the little dark head to her
husband.

"Take good care of her, John," she had entreated.  "She is so
small--and sensitive.  The others can fight their way--but the
world will hurt HER.  Oh, John, I don't know what you and she are
going to do.  You both need me so much.  But keep her close to
you--keep her close to you."

These had been almost her last words except a few unforgettable
ones for him alone.  And it was this child whom Mrs. Davis had
coolly announced her intention of taking from him.  He sat up
straight and looked at Mrs. Davis.  In spite of the worn dressing
gown and the frayed slippers there was something about him that
made Mrs. Davis feel a little of the old reverence for "the
cloth" in which she had been brought up.  After all, there WAS a
certain divinity hedging a minister, even a poor, unworldly,
abstracted one.

"I thank you for your kind intentions, Mrs. Davis," said Mr.
Meredith with a gentle, final, quite awful courtesy, "but I
cannot give you my child."

Mrs. Davis looked blank.  She had never dreamed of his refusing.

"Why, Mr. Meredith," she said in astonishment.  "You must be
cr--you can't mean it.  You must think it over--think of all the
advantages I can give her."

"There is no need to think it over, Mrs. Davis.  It is entirely
out of the question.  All the worldly advantages it is in your
power to bestow on her could not compensate for the loss of a
father's love and care.  I thank you again--but it is not to be
thought of."

Disappointment angered Mrs. Davis beyond the power of old habit
to control.  Her broad red face turned purple and her voice
trembled.

"I thought you'd be only too glad to let me have her," she
sneered.

"Why did you think that?" asked Mr. Meredith quietly.

"Because nobody ever supposed you cared anything about any of
your children," retorted Mrs. Davis contemptuously.  "You neglect
them scandalously.  It is the talk of the place.  They aren't fed
and dressed properly, and they're not trained at all.  They have
no more manners than a pack of wild Indians.  You never think of
doing your duty as a father.  You let a stray child come here
among them for a fortnight and never took any notice of her--a
child that swore like a trooper I'm told.  YOU wouldn't have
cared if they'd caught small-pox from her.  And Faith made an
exhibition of herself getting up in preaching and making that
speech!  And she rid a pig down the street--under your very eyes
I understand.  The way they act is past belief and you never lift
a finger to stop them or try to teach them anything.  And now
when I offer one of them a good home and good prospects you
refuse it and insult me.  A pretty father you, to talk of loving
and caring for your children!"

"That will do, woman!" said Mr. Meredith.  He stood up and looked
at Mrs. Davis with eyes that made her quail.  "That will do," he
repeated.  "I desire to hear no more, Mrs. Davis.  You have said
too much.  It may be that I have been remiss in some respects in
my duty as a parent, but it is not for you to remind me of it in
such terms as you have used.  Let us say good afternoon."

Mrs. Davis did not say anything half so amiable as good
afternoon, but she took her departure.  As she swept past the
minister a large, plump toad, which Carl had secreted under the
lounge, hopped out almost under her feet.  Mrs. Davis gave a
shriek and in trying to avoid treading on the awful thing, lost
her balance and her parasol.  She did not exactly fall, but she
staggered and reeled across the room in a very undignified
fashion and brought up against the door with a thud that jarred
her from head to foot.  Mr. Meredith, who had not seen the toad,
wondered if she had been attacked with some kind of apoplectic or
paralytic seizure, and ran in alarm to her assistance.  But Mrs.
Davis, recovering her feet, waved him back furiously.

"Don't you dare to touch me," she almost shouted.  "This is some
more of your children's doings, I suppose.  This is no fit place
for a decent woman.  Give me my umbrella and let me go.  I'll
never darken the doors of your manse or your church again."

Mr. Meredith picked up the gorgeous parasol meekly enough and
gave it to her.  Mrs. Davis seized it and marched out.  Jerry and
Carl had given up banister sliding and were sitting on the edge
of the veranda with Faith.  Unfortunately, all three were singing
at the tops of their healthy young voices "There'll be a hot time
in the old town to-night."  Mrs. Davis believed the song was
meant for her and her only.  She stopped and shook her parasol at
them.

"Your father is a fool," she said, "and you are three young
varmints that ought to be whipped within an inch of your lives."

"He isn't," cried Faith.  "We're not," cried the boys.  But Mrs.
Davis was gone.

"Goodness, isn't she mad!" said Jerry.  "And what is a 'varmint'
anyhow?"

John Meredith paced up and down the parlour for a few minutes;
then he went back to his study and sat down.  But he did not
return to his German theology.  He was too grievously disturbed
for that.  Mrs. Davis had wakened him up with a vengeance.  WAS
he such a remiss, careless father as she had accused him of
being?  HAD he so scandalously neglected the bodily and spiritual
welfare of the four little motherless creatures dependent on him?
WERE his people talking of it as harshly as Mrs. Davis had
declared?  It must be so, since Mrs. Davis had come to ask for
Una in the full and confident belief that he would hand the child
over to her as unconcernedly and gladly as one might hand over a
strayed, unwelcome kitten.  And, if so, what then?

John Meredith groaned and resumed his pacing up and down the
dusty, disordered room.  What could he do?  He loved his children
as deeply as any father could and he knew, past the power of Mrs.
Davis or any of her ilk, to disturb his conviction, that they
loved him devotedly.  But WAS he fit to have charge of them?  He
knew--none better--his weaknesses and limitations.  What was
needed was a good woman's presence and influence and common
sense.  But how could that be arranged?  Even were he able to get
such a housekeeper it would cut Aunt Martha to the quick.  She
believed she could still do all that was meet and necessary.  He
could not so hurt and insult the poor old woman who had been so
kind to him and his.  How devoted she had been to Cecilia!  And
Cecilia had asked him to be very considerate of Aunt Martha.  To
be sure, he suddenly remembered that Aunt Martha had once hinted
that he ought to marry again.  He felt she would not resent a
wife as she would a housekeeper.  But that was out of the
question.  He did not wish to marry--he did not and could not
care for anyone.  Then what could he do?  It suddenly occurred to
him that he would go over to Ingleside and talk over his
difficulties with Mrs. Blythe.  Mrs. Blythe was one of the few
women he never felt shy or tongue-tied with.  She was always so
sympathetic and refreshing.  It might be that she could suggest
some solution of his problems.  And even if she could not Mr.
Meredith felt that he needed a little decent human companionship
after his dose of Mrs. Davis--something to take the taste of her
out of his soul.

He dressed hurriedly and ate his supper less abstractedly than
usual.  It occurred to him that it was a poor meal.  He looked at
his children; they were rosy and healthy looking enough--except
Una, and she had never been very strong even when her mother was
alive.  They were all laughing and talking--certainly they seemed
happy.  Carl was especially happy because he had two most
beautiful spiders crawling around his supper plate.  Their voices
were pleasant, their manners did not seem bad, they were
considerate of and gentle to one another.  Yet Mrs. Davis had
said their behaviour was the talk of the congregation.

As Mr. Meredith went through his gate Dr. Blythe and Mrs. Blythe
drove past on the road that led to Lowbridge.  The minister's
face fell.  Mrs. Blythe was going away--there was no use in going
to Ingleside.  And he craved a little companionship more than
ever.  As he gazed rather hopelessly over the landscape the
sunset light struck on a window of the old West homestead on the
hill.  It flared out rosily like a beacon of good hope.  He
suddenly remembered Rosemary and Ellen West.  He thought that he
would relish some of Ellen's pungent conversation.  He thought it
would be pleasant to see Rosemary's slow, sweet smile and calm,
heavenly blue eyes again.  What did that old poem of Sir Philip
Sidney's say?--"continual comfort in a face"--that just suited
her.  And he needed comfort.  Why not go and call?  He remembered
that Ellen had asked him to drop in sometimes and there was
Rosemary's book to take back--he ought to take it back before he
forgot.  He had an uneasy suspicion that there were a great many
books in his library which he had borrowed at sundry times and in
divers places and had forgotten to take back.  It was surely his
duty to guard against that in this case.  He went back into his
study, got the book, and plunged downward into Rainbow Valley.



CHAPTER XV. MORE GOSSIP

On the evening after Mrs. Myra Murray of the over-harbour section
had been buried Miss Cornelia and Mary Vance came up to
Ingleside.  There were several things concerning which Miss
Cornelia wished to unburden her soul.  The funeral had to be all
talked over, of course.  Susan and Miss Cornelia thrashed this
out between them; Anne took no part or delight in such goulish
conversations.  She sat a little apart and watched the autumnal
flame of dahlias in the garden, and the dreaming, glamorous
harbour of the September sunset.  Mary Vance sat beside her,
knitting meekly.  Mary's heart was down in the Rainbow Valley,
whence came sweet, distance-softened sounds of children's
laughter, but her fingers were under Miss Cornelia's eye.  She
had to knit so many rounds of her stocking before she might go to
the valley.  Mary knit and held her tongue, but used her ears.

"I never saw a nicer looking corpse," said Miss Cornelia
judicially.  "Myra Murray was always a pretty woman--she was a
Corey from Lowbridge and the Coreys were noted for their good
looks."

"I said to the corpse as I passed it, 'poor woman.  I hope you
are as happy as you look.'" sighed Susan.  "She had not changed
much.  That dress she wore was the black satin she got for her
daughter's wedding fourteen years ago.  Her Aunt told her then to
keep it for her funeral, but Myra laughed and said, 'I may wear
it to my funeral, Aunty, but I will have a good time out of it
first.'  And I may say she did.  Myra Murray was not a woman to
attend her own funeral before she died.  Many a time afterwards
when I saw her enjoying herself out in company I thought to
myself, 'You are a handsome woman, Myra Murray, and that dress
becomes you, but it will likely be your shroud at last.'  And you
see my words have come true, Mrs. Marshall Elliott."

Susan sighed again heavily.  She was enjoying herself hugely.  A
funeral was really a delightful subject of conversation.

"I always liked to meet Myra," said Miss Cornelia.  "She was
always so gay and cheerful--she made you feel better just by her
handshake.  Myra always made the best of things."

"That is true," asserted Susan.  "Her sister-in-law told me that
when the doctor told her at last that he could do nothing for her
and she would never rise from that bed again, Myra said quite
cheerfully, 'Well, if that is so, I'm thankful the preserving is
all done, and I will not have to face the fall house-cleaning.  I
always liked house-cleaning in spring,' she says, 'but I always
hated it in the fall.  I will get clear of it this year, thank
goodness.'  There are people who would call that levity, Mrs.
Marshall Elliott, and I think her sister-in-law was a little
ashamed of it.  She said perhaps her sickness had made Myra a
little light-headed.  But I said, 'No, Mrs. Murray, do not worry
over it.  It was just Myra's way of looking at the bright side.'"

"Her sister Luella was just the opposite," said Miss Cornelia.
"There was no bright side for Luella--there was just black and
shades of gray.  For years she used always to be declaring she
was going to die in a week or so.  'I won't be here to burden you
long,' she would tell her family with a groan.  And if any of
them ventured to talk about their little future plans she'd groan
also and say, 'Ah, _I_ won't be here then.'  When I went to see
her I always agreed with her and it made her so mad that she was
always quite a lot better for several days afterwards.  She has
better health now but no more cheerfulness.  Myra was so
different.  She was always doing or saying something to make some
one feel good.  Perhaps the men they married had something to do
with it.  Luella's man was a Tartar, believe ME, while Jim Murray
was decent, as men go.  He looked heart-broken to-day.  It isn't
often I feel sorry for a man at his wife's funeral, but I did
feel for Jim Murray."

"No wonder he looked sad.  He will not get a wife like Myra again
in a hurry," said Susan.  "Maybe he will not try, since his
children are all grown up and Mirabel is able to keep house.  But
there is no predicting what a widower may or may not do and I,
for one, will not try."

"We'll miss Myra terrible in church," said Miss Cornelia.  "She
was such a worker.  Nothing ever stumped HER.  If she couldn't
get over a difficulty she'd get around it, and if she couldn't
get around it she'd pretend it wasn't there--and generally it
wasn't.  'I'll keep a stiff upper lip to my journey's end,' said
she to me once.  Well, she has ended her journey."

"Do you think so?" asked Anne suddenly, coming back from
dreamland.  "I can't picture HER journey as being ended.  Can YOU
think of her sitting down and folding her hands--that eager,
asking spirit of hers, with its fine adventurous outlook?  No, I
think in death she just opened a gate and went through--on--on--
to new, shining adventures."

"Maybe--maybe," assented Miss Cornelia.  "Do you know, Anne
dearie, I never was much taken with this everlasting rest
doctrine myself--though I hope it isn't heresy to say so.  I want
to bustle round in heaven the same as here.  And I hope there'll
be a celestial substitute for pies and doughnuts--something that
has to be MADE.  Of course, one does get awful tired at
times--and the older you are the tireder you get.  But the very
tiredest could get rested in something short of eternity, you'd
think--except, perhaps, a lazy man."

"When I meet Myra Murray again," said Anne, "I want to see her
coming towards me, brisk and laughing, just as she always did
here."

"Oh, Mrs. Dr. dear," said Susan, in a shocked tone, "you surely
do not think that Myra will be laughing in the world to come?"

"Why not, Susan?  Do you think we will be crying there?"

"No, no, Mrs. Dr. dear, do not misunderstand me.  I do not think
we shall be either crying or laughing."

"What then?"

"Well," said Susan, driven to it.  "it is my opinion, Mrs. Dr.
dear, that we shall just look solemn and holy."

"And do you really think, Susan," said Anne, looking solemn
enough, "that either Myra Murray or I could look solemn and holy
all the time--ALL the time, Susan?"

"Well," admitted Susan reluctantly, "I might go so far as to say
that you both would have to smile now and again, but I can never
admit that there will be laughing in heaven.  The idea seems
really irreverent, Mrs. Dr. dear."

"Well, to come back to earth," said Miss Cornelia, "who can we
get to take Myra's class in Sunday School?  Julia Clow has been
teaching it since Myra took ill, but she's going to town for the
winter and we'll have to get somebody else."

"I heard that Mrs. Laurie Jamieson wanted it," said Anne.  "The
Jamiesons have come to church very regularly since they moved to
the Glen from Lowbridge."

"New brooms!" said Miss Cornelia dubiously.  "Wait till they've
gone regularly for a year."

"You cannot depend on Mrs. Jamieson a bit, Mrs. Dr. dear," said
Susan solemnly.  "She died once and when they were measuring her
for her coffin, after laying her out just beautiful, did she not
go and come back to life!  Now, Mrs. Dr. dear, you know you
CANNOT depend on a woman like that."

"She might turn Methodist at any moment," said Miss Cornelia.
"They tell me they went to the Methodist Church at Lowbridge
quite as often as to the Presbyterian.  I haven't caught them at
it here yet, but I would not approve of taking Mrs. Jamieson into
the Sunday School.  Yet we must not offend them.  We are losing
too many people, by death or bad temper.  Mrs. Alec Davis has
left the church, no one knows why.  She told the managers that
she would never pay another cent to Mr. Meredith's salary.  Of
course, most people say that the children offended her, but
somehow I don't think so.  I tried to pump Faith, but all I could
get out of her was that Mrs. Davis had come, seemingly in high
good humour, to see her father, and had left in an awful rage,
calling them all 'varmints!'"

"Varmints, indeed!" said Susan furiously.  "Does Mrs. Alec Davis
forget that her uncle on her mother's side was suspected of
poisoning his wife?  Not that it was ever proved, Mrs. Dr. dear,
and it does not do to believe all you hear.  But if _I_ had an
uncle whose wife died without any satisfactory reason, _I_ would
not go about the country calling innocent children varmints."

"The point is," said Miss Cornelia, "that Mrs. Davis paid a large
subscription, and how its loss is going to be made up is a
problem.  And if she turns the other Douglases against Mr.
Meredith, as she will certainly try to do, he will just have to
go."

"I do not think Mrs. Alec Davis is very well liked by the rest of
the clan," said Susan.  "It is not likely she will be able to
influence them."

"But those Douglases all hang together so.  If you touch one, you
touch all.  We can't do without them, so much is certain.  They
pay half the salary.  They are not mean, whatever else may be
said of them.  Norman Douglas used to give a hundred a year long
ago before he left."

"What did he leave for?" asked Anne.

"He declared a member of the session cheated him in a cow deal.
He hasn't come to church for twenty years.  His wife used to come
regular while she was alive, poor thing, but he never would let
her pay anything, except one red cent every Sunday.  She felt
dreadfully humiliated.  I don't know that he was any too good a
husband to her, though she was never heard to complain.  But she
always had a cowed look.  Norman Douglas didn't get the woman he
wanted thirty years ago and the Douglases never liked to put up
with second best."

"Who was the woman he did want."

"Ellen West.  They weren't engaged exactly, I believe, but they
went about together for two years.  And then they just broke
off--nobody ever know why.  Just some silly quarrel, I suppose.
And Norman went and married Hester Reese before his temper had
time to cool--married her just to spite Ellen, I haven't a doubt.
So like a man!  Hester was a nice little thing, but she never had
much spirit and he broke what little she had.  She was too meek
for Norman.  He needed a woman who could stand up to him.  Ellen
would have kept him in fine order and he would have liked her all
the better for it.  He despised Hester, that is the truth, just
because she always gave in to him.  I used to hear him say many a
time, long ago when he was a young fellow 'Give me a spunky
woman--spunk for me every time.'  And then he went and married a
girl who couldn't say boo to a goose--man-like.  That family of
Reeses were just vegetables.  They went through the motions of
living, but they didn't LIVE."

"Russell Reese used his first wife's wedding-ring to marry his
second," said Susan reminiscently.  "That was TOO economical in
my opinion, Mrs. Dr. dear.  And his brother John has his own
tombstone put up in the over-harbour graveyard, with everything
on it but the date of death, and he goes and looks at it every
Sunday.  Most folks would not consider that much fun, but it is
plain he does.  People do have such different ideas of enjoyment.
As for Norman Douglas, he is a perfect heathen.  When the last
minister asked him why he never went to church he said "Too many
ugly women there, parson--too many ugly women!"  I should like to
go to such a man, Mrs. Dr. dear, and say to him solemnly, 'There
is a hell!'"

"Oh, Norman doesn't believe there is such a place," said Miss
Cornelia.  "I hope he'll find out his mistake when he comes to
die.  There, Mary, you've knit your three inches and you can go
and play with the children for half an hour."

Mary needed no second bidding.  She flew to Rainbow Valley with a
heart as light as her heels, and in the course of conversation
told Faith Meredith all about Mrs. Alec Davis.

"And Mrs. Elliott says that she'll turn all the Douglases against
your father and then he'll have to leave the Glen because his
salary won't be paid," concluded Mary.  "_I_ don't know what is
to be done, honest to goodness.  If only old Norman Douglas would
come back to church and pay, it wouldn't be so bad.  But he
won't--and the Douglases will leave--and you all will have to
go."

Faith carried a heavy heart to bed with her that night.  The
thought of leaving the Glen was unbearable.  Nowhere else in the
world were there such chums as the Blythes.  Her little heart had
been wrung when they had left Maywater--she had shed many bitter
tears when she parted with Maywater chums and the old manse there
where her mother had lived and died.  She could not contemplate
calmly the thought of such another and harder wrench.  She
COULDN'T leave Glen St. Mary and dear Rainbow Valley and that
delicious graveyard.

"It's awful to be minister's family," groaned Faith into her
pillow.  "Just as soon as you get fond of a place you are torn up
by the roots.  I'll never, never, NEVER marry a minister, no
matter how nice he is."

Faith sat up in bed and looked out of the little vine-hung
window.  The night was very still, the silence broken only by
Una's soft breathing.  Faith felt terribly alone in the world.
She could see Glen St. Mary lying under the starry blue meadows
of the autumn night.  Over the valley a light shone from the
girls' room at Ingleside, and another from Walter's room.  Faith
wondered if poor Walter had toothache again.  Then she sighed,
with a little passing sigh of envy of Nan and Di.  They had a
mother and a settled home--THEY were not at the mercy of people
who got angry without any reason and called you a varmint.  Away
beyond the Glen, amid fields that were very quiet with sleep,
another light was burning.  Faith knew it shone in the house
where Norman Douglas lived.  He was reputed to sit up all hours
of the night reading.  Mary had said if he could only be induced
to return to the church all would be well.  And why not?  Faith
looked at a big, low star hanging over the tall, pointed spruce
at the gate of the Methodist Church and had an inspiration.  She
knew what ought to be done and she, Faith Meredith, would do it.
She would make everything right.  With a sigh of satisfaction,
she turned from the lonely, dark world and cuddled down beside
Una.



CHAPTER XVI. TIT FOR TAT

With Faith, to decide was to act.  She lost no time in carrying
out the idea.  As soon as she came home from school the next day
she left the manse and made her way down the Glen.  Walter Blythe
joined her as she passed the post office.

"I'm going to Mrs. Elliott's on an errand for mother," he said.
"Where are you going, Faith?"

"I am going somewhere on church business," said Faith loftily.
She did not volunteer any further information and Walter felt
rather snubbed.  They walked on in silence for a little while.
It was a warm, windy evening with a sweet, resinous air.  Beyond
the sand dunes were gray seas, soft and beautiful.  The Glen
brook bore down a freight of gold and crimson leaves, like fairy
shallops.  In Mr. James Reese's buckwheat stubble-land, with its
beautiful tones of red and brown, a crow parliament was being
held, whereat solemn deliberations regarding the welfare of
crowland were in progress.  Faith cruelly broke up the august
assembly by climbing up on the fence and hurling a broken rail at
it.  Instantly the air was filled with flapping black wings and
indignant caws.

"Why did you do that?" said Walter reproachfully.  "They were
having such a good time."

"Oh, I hate crows," said Faith airily.  "The are so black and sly
I feel sure they're hypocrites.  They steal little birds' eggs
out of their nests, you know.  I saw one do it on our lawn last
spring.  Walter, what makes you so pale to-day?  Did you have the
toothache again last night?"

Walter shivered.

"Yes--a raging one.  I couldn't sleep a wink--so I just paced up
and down the floor and imagined I was an early Christian martyr
being tortured at the command of Nero.  That helped ever so much
for a while--and then I got so bad I couldn't imagine anything."

"Did you cry?" asked Faith anxiously.

"No--but I lay down on the floor and groaned," admitted Walter.
"Then the girls came in and Nan put cayenne pepper in it--and
that made it worse--Di made me hold a swallow of cold water in my
mouth--and I couldn't stand it, so they called Susan.  Susan said
it served me right for sitting up in the cold garret yesterday
writing poetry trash.  But she started up the kitchen fire and
got me a hot-water bottle and it stopped the toothache.  As soon
as I felt better I told Susan my poetry wasn't trash and she
wasn't any judge.  And she said no, thank goodness she was not
and she did not know anything about poetry except that it was
mostly a lot of lies.  Now you know, Faith, that isn't so.  That
is one reason why I like writing poetry--you can say so many
things in it that are true in poetry but wouldn't be true in
prose.  I told Susan so, but she said to stop my jawing and go to
sleep before the water got cold, or she'd leave me to see if
rhyming would cure toothache, and she hoped it would be a lesson
to me."

"Why don't you go to the dentist at Lowbridge and get the tooth
out?"

Walter shivered again.

"They want me to--but I can't.  It would hurt so."

"Are you afraid of a little pain?" asked Faith contemptuously.

Walter flushed.

"It would be a BIG pain.  I hate being hurt.  Father said he
wouldn't insist on my going--he'd wait until I'd made up my own
mind to go."

"It wouldn't hurt as long as the toothache," argued Faith,
"You've had five spells of toothache.  If you'd just go and have
it out there'd be no more bad nights.  _I_ had a tooth out once.
I yelled for a moment, but it was all over then--only the
bleeding."

"The bleeding is worst of all--it's so ugly," cried Walter.  "It
just made me sick when Jem cut his foot last summer.  Susan said
I looked more like fainting than Jem did.  But I couldn't hear to
see Jem hurt, either.  Somebody is always getting hurt, Faith--
and it's awful.  I just can't BEAR to see things hurt.  It makes
me just want to run--and run--and run--till I can't hear or see
them."

"There's no use making a fuss over anyone getting hurt," said
Faith, tossing her curls.  "Of course, if you've hurt yourself
very bad, you have to yell--and blood IS messy--and I don't like
seeing other people hurt, either.  But I don't want to run--I
want to go to work and help them.  Your father HAS to hurt people
lots of times to cure them.  What would they do if HE ran away?"

"I didn't say I WOULD run.  I said I WANTED to run.  That's a
different thing.  I want to help people, too.  But oh, I wish
there weren't any ugly, dreadful things in the world.  I wish
everything was glad and beautiful."

"Well, don't let's think of what isn't," said Faith.  "After all,
there's lots of fun in being alive.  You wouldn't have toothache
if you were dead, but still, wouldn't you lots rather be alive
than dead?  I would, a hundred times.  Oh, here's Dan Reese.
He's been down to the harbour for fish."

"I hate Dan Reese," said Walter.

"So do I.  All us girls do.  I'm just going to walk past and
never take the least notice of him.  You watch me!"

Faith accordingly stalked past Dan with her chin out and an
expression of scorn that bit into his soul.  He turned and
shouted after her.

"Pig-girl!  Pig-girl!!  Pig-girl!!!" in a crescendo of insult.

Faith walked on, seemingly oblivious.  But her lip trembled
slightly with a sense of outrage.  She knew she was no match for
Dan Reese when it came to an exchange of epithets.  She wished
Jem Blythe had been with her instead of Walter.  If Dan Reese had
dared to call her a pig-girl in Jem's hearing, Jem would have
wiped up the dust with him.  But it never occurred to Faith to
expect Walter to do it, or blame him for not doing it.  Walter,
she knew, never fought other boys.  Neither did Charlie Clow of
the north road.  The strange part was that, while she despised
Charlie for a coward, it never occurred to her to disdain Walter.
It was simply that he seemed to her an inhabitant of a world of
his own, where different traditions prevailed.  Faith would as
soon have expected a starry-eyed young angel to pummel dirty,
freckled Dan Reese for her as Walter Blythe.  She would not have
blamed the angel and she did not blame Walter Blythe.  But she
wished that sturdy Jem or Jerry had been there and Dan's insult
continued to rankle in her soul.

Walter was pale no longer.  He had flushed crimson and his
beautiful eyes were clouded with shame and anger.  He knew that
he ought to have avenged Faith.  Jem would have sailed right in
and made Dan eat his words with bitter sauce.  Ritchie Warren
would have overwhelmed Dan with worse "names" than Dan had called
Faith.  But Walter could not--simply could not--"call names."  He
knew he would get the worst of it. He could never conceive or
utter the vulgar, ribald insults of which Dan Reese had unlimited
command.  And as for the trial by fist, Walter couldn't fight.
He hated the idea.  It was rough and painful--and, worst of all,
it was ugly.  He never could understand Jem's exultation in an
occasional conflict.  But he wished he COULD fight Dan Reese.  He
was horribly ashamed because Faith Meredith had been insulted in
his presence and he had not tried to punish her insulter.   He
felt sure she must despise him.  She had not even spoken to him
since Dan had called her pig-girl.  He was glad when they came to
the parting of the ways.

Faith, too, was relieved, though for a different reason.  She
wanted to be alone because she suddenly felt rather nervous about
her errand.  Impulse had cooled, especially since Dan had bruised
her self-respect.  She must go through with it, but she no longer
had enthusiasm to sustain her.  She was going to see Norman
Douglas and ask him to come back to church, and she began to be
afraid of him.  What had seemed so easy and simple up at the Glen
seemed very different down here.  She had heard a good deal about
Norman Douglas, and she knew that even the biggest boys in school
were afraid of him.  Suppose he called her something nasty--she
had heard he was given to that.  Faith could not endure being
called names--they subdued her far more quickly than a physical
blow.  But she would go on--Faith Meredith always went on.  If
she did not her father might have to leave the Glen.

At the end of the long lane Faith came to the house--a big,
old-fashioned one with a row of soldierly Lombardies marching
past it.  On the back veranda Norman Douglas himself was sitting,
reading a newspaper.  His big dog was beside him.  Behind, in the
kitchen, where his housekeeper, Mrs. Wilson, was getting supper,
there was a clatter of dishes--an angry clatter, for Norman
Douglas had just had a quarrel with Mrs. Wilson, and both were in
a very bad temper over it.  Consequently, when Faith stepped on
the veranda and Norman Douglas lowered his newspaper she found
herself looking into the choleric eyes of an irritated man.

Norman Douglas was rather a fine-looking personage in his way.
He had a sweep of long red beard over his broad chest and a mane
of red hair, ungrizzled by the years, on his massive head.  His
high, white forehead was unwrinkled and his blue eyes could flash
still with all the fire of his tempestuous youth.  He could be
very amiable when he liked, and he could be very terrible.  Poor
Faith, so anxiously bent on retrieving the situation in regard to
the church, had caught him in one of his terrible moods.

He did not know who she was and he gazed at her with disfavour.
Norman Douglas liked girls of spirit and flame and laughter.  At
this moment Faith was very pale.  She was of the type to which
colour means everything.  Lacking her crimson cheeks she seemed
meek and even insignificant.  She looked apologetic and afraid,
and the bully in Norman Douglas's heart stirred.

"Who the dickens are you?  And what do you want here?" he
demanded in his great resounding voice, with a fierce scowl.

For once in her life Faith had nothing to say.  She had never
supposed Norman Douglas was like THIS.  She was paralyzed with
terror of him.  He saw it and it made him worse.

"What's the matter with you?" he boomed.  "You look as if you
wanted to say something and was scared to say it.  What's
troubling you?  Confound it, speak up, can't you?"

No.  Faith could not speak up.  No words would come.  But her
lips began to tremble.

"For heaven's sake, don't cry," shouted Norman.  "I can't stand
snivelling.  If you've anything to say, say it and have done.
Great Kitty, is the girl possessed of a dumb spirit?  Don't look
at me like that--I'm human--I haven't got a tail!  Who are
you--who are you, I say?"

Norman's voice could have been heard at the harbour.  Operations
in the kitchen were suspended.  Mrs. Wilson was listening
open-eared and eyed.  Norman put his huge brown hands on his
knees and leaned forward, staring into Faith's pallid, shrinking
face.  He seemed to loom over her like some evil giant out of a
fairy tale.  She felt as if he would eat her up next thing, body
and bones.

"I--am--Faith--Meredith," she said, in little more than a
whisper.

"Meredith, hey?  One of the parson's youngsters, hey?  I've heard
of you--I've heard of you!  Riding on pigs and breaking the
Sabbath!  A nice lot!  What do you want here, hey?  What do you
want of the old pagan, hey?  _I_ don't ask favours of
parsons--and I don't give any.  What do you want, I say?"

Faith wished herself a thousand miles away.  She stammered out
her thought in its naked simplicity.

"I came--to ask you--to go to church--and pay--to the salary."

Norman glared at her.  Then he burst forth again.

"You impudent hussy--you!  Who put you up to it, jade?  Who put
you up to it?"

"Nobody," said poor Faith.

"That's a lie.  Don't lie to me!  Who sent you here?  It wasn't
your father--he hasn't the smeddum of a flea--but he wouldn't
send you to do what he dassn't do himself.  I suppose it was some
of them confounded old maids at the Glen, was it--was it, hey?"

"No--I--I just came myself."

"Do you take me for a fool?" shouted Norman.

"No--I thought you were a gentleman," said Faith faintly, and
certainly without any thought of being sarcastic.

Norman bounced up.

"Mind your own business.  I don't want to hear another word from
you.  If you wasn't such a kid I'd teach you to interfere in what
doesn't concern you.  When I want parsons or pill-dosers I'll
send for them.  Till I do I'll have no truck with them.  Do you
understand?  Now, get out, cheese-face."

Faith got out.  She stumbled blindly down the steps, out of the
yard gate and into the lane.  Half way up the lane her daze of
fear passed away and a reaction of tingling anger possessed her.
By the time she reached the end of the lane she was in such a
furious temper as she had never experienced before.  Norman
Douglas' insults burned in her soul, kindling a scorching flame.
Go home!  Not she!  She would go straight back and tell that old
ogre just what she thought of him--she would show him--oh,
wouldn't she!  Cheese-face, indeed!

Unhesitatingly she turned and walked back.  The veranda was
deserted and the kitchen door shut.  Faith opened the door
without knocking, and went in.  Norman Douglas had just sat down
at the supper table, but he still held his newspaper.  Faith
walked inflexibly across the room, caught the paper from his
hand, flung it on the floor and stamped on it.  Then she faced
him, with her flashing eyes and scarlet cheeks.  She was such a
handsome young fury that Norman Douglas hardly recognized her.

"What's brought you back?" he growled, but more in bewilderment
than rage.

Unquailingly she glared back into the angry eyes against which so
few people could hold their own.

"I have come back to tell you exactly what I think of you," said
Faith in clear, ringing tones.  "I am not afraid of you.  You are
a rude, unjust, tyrannical, disagreeable old man.  Susan says you
are sure to go to hell, and I was sorry for you, but I am not
now.  Your wife never had a new hat for ten years--no wonder she
died.  I am going to make faces at you whenever I see you after
this.  Every time I am behind you you will know what is
happening.  Father has a picture of the devil in a book in his
study, and I mean to go home and write your name under it.  You
are an old vampire and I hope you'll have the Scotch fiddle!"

Faith did not know what a vampire meant any more than she knew
what the Scotch fiddle was.  She had heard Susan use the
expressions and gathered from her tone that both were dire
things.  But Norman Douglas knew what the latter meant at least.
He had listened in absolute silence to Faith's tirade.  When she
paused for breath, with a stamp of her foot, he suddenly burst
into loud laughter.  With a mighty slap of hand on knee he
exclaimed,

"I vow you've got spunk, after all--I like spunk.  Come, sit
down--sit down!"

"I will not."  Faith's eyes flashed more passionately.  She
thought she was being made fun of--treated contemptuously.  She
would have enjoyed another explosion of rage, but this cut deep.
"I will not sit down in your house.  I am going home.  But I am
glad I came back here and told you exactly what my opinion of you
is."

"So am I--so am I," chuckled Norman.  "I like you--you're
fine--you're great.  Such roses--such vim!  Did I call her
cheese-face?  Why, she never smelt a cheese.  Sit down.  If you'd
looked like that at the first, girl!  So you'll write my name
under the devil's picture, will you?  But he's black, girl, he's
black--and I'm red.  It won't do--it won't do!  And you hope I'll
have the Scotch fiddle, do you?  Lord love you, girl, I had IT
when I was a boy.  Don't wish it on me again.  Sit down--sit in.
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness."

"No, thank you," said Faith haughtily.

"Oh, yes, you will.  Come, come now, I apologize, girl--I
apologize.  I made a fool of myself and I'm sorry.  Man can't say
fairer.  Forget and forgive.  Shake hands, girl--shake hands.
She won't--no, she won't!  But she must!  Look-a-here, girl, if
you'll shake hands and break bread with me I'll pay what I used
to to the salary and I'll go to church the first Sunday in every
month and I'll make Kitty Alec hold her jaw.  I'm the only one in
the clan can do it.  Is it a bargain, girl?"

It seemed a bargain.  Faith found herself shaking hands with the
ogre and then sitting at his board.  Her temper was over--Faith's
tempers never lasted very long--but its excitement still sparkled
in her eyes and crimsoned her cheeks.  Norman Douglas looked at
her admiringly.

"Go, get some of your best preserves, Wilson," he ordered, "and
stop sulking, woman, stop sulking.  What if we did have a
quarrel, woman?  A good squall clears the air and briskens things
up.  But no drizzling and fogging afterwards--no drizzling and
fogging, woman.  I can't stand that.  Temper in a woman but no
tears for me.  Here, girl, is some messed up meat and potatoes
for you.  Begin on that.  Wilson has some fancy name for it, but
I call lit macanaccady.  Anything I can't analyze in the eating
line I call macanaccady and anything wet that puzzles me I call
shallamagouslem.  Wilson's tea is shallamagouslem.  I swear she
makes it out of burdocks.  Don't take any of the ungodly black
liquid--here's some milk for you.  What did you say your name
was?"

"Faith."

"No name that--no name that!  I can't stomach such a name.  Got
any other?"

"No, sir."

"Don't like the name, don't like it.  There's no smeddum to it.
Besides, it makes me think of my Aunt Jinny.  She called her
three girls Faith, Hope, and Charity.  Faith didn't believe in
anything--Hope was a born pessimist--and Charity was a miser.
You ought to be called Red Rose--you look like one when you're
mad.  I'LL call you Red Rose.  And you've roped me into promising
to go to church?  But only once a month, remember--only once a
month.  Come now, girl, will you let me off?  I used to pay a
hundred to the salary every year and go to church.  If I promise
to pay two hundred a year will you let me off going to church?
Come now!"

"No, no, sir," said Faith, dimpling roguishly.  "I want you to go
to church, too."

"Well, a bargain is a bargain.  I reckon I can stand it twelve
times a year.  What a sensation it'll make the first Sunday I go!
And old Susan Baker says I'm going to hell, hey?  Do you believe
I'll go there--come, now, do you?"

"I hope not, sir," stammered Faith in some confusion.

"WHY do you hope not?  Come, now, WHY do you hope not?  Give us a
reason, girl--give us a reason."

"It--it must be a very--uncomfortable place, sir."

"Uncomfortable?  All depends on your taste in comfortable, girl.
I'd soon get tired of angels.  Fancy old Susan in a halo, now!"

Faith did fancy it, and it tickled her so much that she had to
laugh.  Norman eyed her approvingly.

"See the fun of it, hey?  Oh, I like you--you're great.  About
this church business, now--can your father preach?"

"He is a splendid preacher," said loyal Faith.

"He is, hey?  I'll see--I'll watch out for flaws.  He'd better be
careful what he says before ME.  I'll catch him--I'll trip him
up--I'll keep tabs on his arguments.  I'm bound to have some fun
out of this church going business.  Does he ever preach hell?"

"No--o--o--I don't think so."

"Too bad.  I like sermons on that subject.  You tell him that if
he wants to keep me in good humour to preach a good rip-roaring
sermon on hell once every six months--and the more brimstone the
better.  I like 'em smoking.  And think of all the pleasure he'd
give the old maids, too.  They'd all keep looking at old Norman
Douglas and thinking, 'That's for you, you old reprobate.  That's
what's in store for YOU!'  I'll give an extra ten dollars every
time you get your father to preach on hell.  Here's Wilson and
the jam.  Like that, hey?  IT isn't macanaccady.  Taste!"

Faith obediently swallowed the big spoonful Norman held out to
her.  Luckily it WAS good.

"Best plum jam in the world," said Norman, filling a large saucer
and plumping it down before her.  "Glad you like it.  I'll give
you a couple of jars to take home with you.  There's nothing mean
about me--never was.  The devil can't catch me at THAT corner,
anyhow.  It wasn't my fault that Hester didn't have a new hat for
ten years.  It was her own--she pinched on hats to save money to
give yellow fellows over in China.  _I_ never gave a cent to
missions in my life--never will.  Never you try to bamboozle me
into that!  A hundred a year to the salary and church once a
month--but no spoiling good heathens to make poor Christians!
Why, girl, they wouldn't be fit for heaven or hell--clean spoiled
for either place--clean spoiled.  Hey, Wilson, haven't you got a
smile on yet?  Beats all how you women can sulk!  _I_ never
sulked in my life--it's just one big flash and crash with me and
then--pouf--the squall's over and the sun is out and you could
eat out of my hand."

Norman insisted on driving Faith home after supper and he filled
the buggy up with apples, cabbages, potatoes and pumpkins and
jars of jam.

"There's a nice little tom-pussy out in the barn.  I'll give you
that too, if you'd like it.  Say the word," he said.

"No, thank you," said Faith decidedly.  "I don't like cats, and
besides, I have a rooster."

"Listen to her.  You can't cuddle a rooster as you can a kitten.
Who ever heard of petting a rooster?  Better take little Tom.  I
want to find a good home for him."

"No.  Aunt Martha has a cat and he would kill a strange kitten."

Norman yielded the point rather reluctantly.  He gave Faith an
exciting drive home, behind his wild two-year old, and when he
had let her out at the kitchen door of the manse and dumped his
cargo on the back veranda he drove away shouting,

"It's only once a month--only once a month, mind!"

Faith went up to bed, feeling a little dizzy and breathless, as
if she had just escaped from the grasp of a genial whirlwind.
She was happy and thankful.  No fear now that they would have to
leave the Glen and the graveyard and Rainbow Valley.  But she
fell asleep troubled by a disagreeable subconsciousness that Dan
Reese had called her pig-girl and that, having stumbled on such a
congenial epithet, he would continue to call her so whenever
opportunity offered.



CHAPTER XVII. A DOUBLE VICTORY

Norman Douglas came to church the first Sunday in November and
made all the sensation he desired.  Mr. Meredith shook hands with
him absently on the church steps and hoped dreamily that Mrs.
Douglas was well.

"She wasn't very well just before I buried her ten years ago, but
I reckon she has better health now," boomed Norman, to the horror
and amusement of every one except Mr. Meredith, who was absorbed
in wondering if he had made the last head of his sermon as clear
as he might have, and hadn't the least idea what Norman had said
to him or he to Norman.

Norman intercepted Faith at the gate.

"Kept my word, you see--kept my word, Red Rose.  I'm free now
till the first Sunday in December.  Fine sermon, girl--fine
sermon.  Your father has more in his head than he carries on his
face.  But he contradicted himself once--tell him he contradicted
himself.  And tell him I want that brimstone sermon in December.
Great way to wind up the old year--with a taste of hell, you
know.  And what's the matter with a nice tasty discourse on
heaven for New Year's?  Though it wouldn't be half as interesting
as hell, girl--not half.  Only I'd like to know what your father
thinks about heaven--he CAN think--rarest thing in the world--a
person who can think.  But he DID contradict himself.  Ha, ha!
Here's a question you might ask him sometime when he's awake,
girl.  'Can God make a stone so big He couldn't lift it Himself?'
Don't forget now.  I want to hear his opinion on it.  I've
stumped many a minister with that, girl."

Faith was glad to escape him and run home. Dan Reese, standing
among the crowd of boys at the gate,

looked at her and shaped his mouth into "pig-girl," but dared not
utter it aloud just there.  Next day in school was a different
matter.  At noon recess Faith encountered Dan in the little
spruce plantation behind the school and Dan shouted once more,

"Pig-girl!  Pig-girl!  ROOSTER-GIRL!"

Walter Blythe suddenly rose from a mossy cushion behind a little
clump of firs where he had been reading.  He was very pale, but
his eyes blazed.

"You hold your tongue, Dan Reese!" he said.

"Oh, hello, Miss Walter," retorted Dan, not at all abashed.  He
vaulted airily to the top of the rail fence and chanted
insultingly,

    "Cowardy, cowardy-custard
    Stole a pot of mustard,
    Cowardy, cowardy-custard!"

"You are a coincidence!" said Walter scornfully, turning still
whiter.  He had only a very hazy idea what a coincidence was, but
Dan had none at all and thought it must be something peculiarly
opprobrious.

"Yah! Cowardy!" he yelled gain.  "Your mother writes lies--lies--
lies!  And Faith Meredith is a pig-girl--a--pig-girl--a pig-girl!
And she's a rooster-girl--a rooster-girl--a rooster-girl!  Yah!
Cowardy--cowardy--cust--"

Dan got no further.  Walter had hurled himself across the
intervening space and knocked Dan off the fence backward with one
well-directed blow.  Dan's sudden inglorious sprawl was greeted
with a burst of laughter and a clapping of hands from Faith.  Dan
sprang up, purple with rage, and began to climb the fence.  But
just then the school-bell rang and Dan knew what happened to boys
who were late during Mr. Hazard's regime.

"We'll fight this out," he howled.  "Cowardy!"

"Any time you like," said Walter.

"Oh, no, no, Walter," protested Faith.  "Don't fight him.  _I_
don't mind what he says--I wouldn't condescend to mind the like
of HIM."

"He insulted you and he insulted my mother," said Walter, with
the same deadly calm.  "Tonight after school, Dan."

"I've got to go right home from school to pick taters after the
harrows, dad says," answered Dan sulkily.  "But to-morrow
night'll do."

"All right--here to-morrow night," agreed Walter.

"And I'll smash your sissy-face for you," promised Dan.

Walter shuddered--not so much from fear of the threat as from
repulsion over the ugliness and vulgarity of it.  But he held his
head high and marched into school.  Faith followed in a conflict
of emotions.  She hated to think of Walter fighting that little
sneak, but oh, he had been splendid!  And he was going to fight
for HER--Faith Meredith--to punish her insulter!  Of course he
would win--such eyes spelled victory.

Faith's confidence in her champion had dimmed a little by
evening, however.  Walter had seemed so very quiet and dull the
rest of the day in school.

"If it were only Jem," she sighed to Una, as they sat on Hezekiah
Pollock's tombstone in the graveyard.  "HE is such a fighter--he
could finish Dan off in no time.  But Walter doesn't know much
about fighting."

"I'm so afraid he'll be hurt," sighed Una, who hated fighting and
couldn't understand the subtle, secret exultation she divined in
Faith.

"He oughtn't to be," said Faith uncomfortably.  "He's every bit
as big as Dan."

"But Dan's so much older," said Una.  "Why, he's nearly a year
older."

"Dan hasn't done much fighting when you come to count up," said
Faith.  "I believe he's really a coward.  He didn't think Walter
would fight, or he wouldn't have called names before him.  Oh, if
you could just have seen Walter's face when he looked at him,
Una!  It made me shiver--with a nice shiver.  He looked just like
Sir Galahad in that poem father read us on Saturday."

"I hate the thought of them fighting and I wish it could be
stopped," said Una.

"Oh, it's got to go on now," cried Faith.  "It's a matter of
honour.  Don't you DARE tell anyone, Una.  If you do I'll never
tell you secrets again!"

"I won't tell," agreed Una.  "But I won't stay to-morrow to watch
the fight.  I'm coming right home."

"Oh, all right.  _I_ have to be there--it would be mean not to,
when Walter is fighting for me.  I'm going to tie my colours on
his arm--that's the thing to do when he's my knight.  How lucky
Mrs. Blythe gave me that pretty blue hair-ribbon for my birthday!
I've only worn it twice so it will be almost new.  But I wish I
was sure Walter would win.  It will be so--so HUMILIATING if he
doesn't."

Faith would have been yet more dubious if she could have seen her
champion just then.  Walter had gone home from school with all
his righteous anger at a low ebb and a very nasty feeling in its
place. He had to fight Dan Reese the next night--and he didn't
want to--he hated the thought of it.  And he kept thinking of it
all the time.  Not for a minute could he get away from the
thought.  Would it hurt much?  He was terribly afraid that it
would hurt.  And would he be defeated and shamed?

He could not eat any supper worth speaking of.  Susan had made a
big batch of his favourite monkey-faces, but he could choke only
one down.  Jem ate four.  Walter wondered how he could.  How
could ANYBODY eat?  And how could they all talk gaily as they
were doing?  There was mother, with her shining eyes and pink
cheeks.  SHE didn't know her son had to fight next day.  Would
she be so gay if she knew, Walter wondered darkly.  Jem had taken
Susan's picture with his new camera and the result was passed
around the table and Susan was terribly indignant over it.

"I am no beauty, Mrs. Dr. dear, and well I know it, and have
always known it," she said in an aggrieved tone, "but that I am
as ugly as that picture makes me out I will never, no, never
believe."

Jem laughed over this and Anne laughed again with him.  Walter
couldn't endure it.  He got up and fled to his room.

"That child has got something on his mind, Mrs. Dr. dear," said
Susan.  "He has et next to nothing.  Do you suppose he is
plotting another poem?"

Poor Walter was very far removed in spirit from the starry realms
of poesy just then.  He propped his elbow on his open window-sill
and leaned his head drearily on his hands.

"Come on down to the shore, Walter," cried Jem, busting in.  "The
boys are going to burn the sand-hill grass to-night.  Father says
we can go.  Come on."

At any other time Walter would have been delighted.  He gloried
in the burning of the sand-hill grass.  But now he flatly refused
to go, and no arguments or entreaties could move him.
Disappointed Jem, who did not care for the long dark walk to Four
Winds Point alone, retreated to his museum in the garret and
buried himself in a book.  He soon forgot his disappointment,
revelling with the heroes of old romance, and pausing
occasionally to picture himself a famous general, leading his
troops to victory on some great battlefield.

Walter sat at his window until bedtime.  Di crept in, hoping to
be told what was wrong, but Walter could not talk of it, even to
Di.  Talking of it seemed to give it a reality from which he
shrank.  It was torture enough to think of it.  The crisp,
withered leaves rustled on the maple trees outside his window.
The glow of rose and flame had died out of the hollow, silvery
sky, and the full moon was rising gloriously over Rainbow Valley.
Afar off, a ruddy woodfire was painting a page of glory on the
horizon beyond the hills.  It was a sharp, clear evening when
far-away sounds were heard distinctly.  A fox was barking across
the pond; an engine was puffing down at the Glen station; a
blue-jay was screaming madly in the maple grove; there was
laughter over on the manse lawn.  How could people laugh?  How
could foxes and blue-jays and engines behave as if nothing were
going to happen on the morrow?

"Oh, I wish it was over," groaned Walter.

He slept very little that night and had hard work choking down
his porridge in the morning.  Susan WAS rather lavish in her
platefuls.  Mr. Hazard found him an unsatisfactory pupil that
day.  Faith Meredith's wits seemed to be wool-gathering, too.
Dan Reese kept drawing surreptitious pictures of girls, with pig
or rooster heads, on his slate and holding them up for all to
see.  The news of the coming battle had leaked out and most of
the boys and many of the girls were in the spruce plantation when
Dan and Walter sought it after school.  Una had gone home, but
Faith was there, having tied her blue ribbon around Walter's arm.
Walter was thankful that neither Jem nor Di nor Nan were among
the crowd of spectators.  Somehow they had not heard of what was
in the wind and had gone home, too.  Walter faced Dan quite
undauntedly now.  At the last moment all his fear had vanished,
but he still felt disgust at the idea of fighting.  Dan, it was
noted, was really paler under his freckles than Walter was.  One
of the older boys gave the word and Dan struck Walter in the
face.

Walter reeled a little.  The pain of the blow tingled through all
his sensitive frame for a moment.  Then he felt pain no longer.
Something, such as he had never experienced before, seemed to
roll over him like a flood.  His face flushed crimson, his eyes
burned like flame.  The scholars of Glen St. Mary school had
never dreamed that "Miss Walter" could look like that.  He hurled
himself forward and closed with Dan like a young wildcat.

There were no particular rules in the fights of the Glen school
boys.  It was catch-as-catch can, and get your blows in anyhow.
Walter fought with a savage fury and a joy in the struggle
against which Dan could not hold his ground.  It was all over
very speedily.  Walter had no clear consciousness of what he was
doing until suddenly the red mist cleared from his sight and he
found himself kneeling on the body of the prostrate Dan whose
nose--oh, horror!--was spouting blood.

"Have you had enough?" demanded Walter through his clenched
teeth.

Dan sulkily admitted that he had.

"My mother doesn't write lies?"

"No."

"Faith Meredith isn't a pig-girl?"

"No."

"Nor a rooster-girl?"

"No."

"And I'm not a coward?"

"No."

Walter had intended to ask, "And you are a liar?" but pity
intervened and he did not humiliate Dan further.  Besides, that
blood was so horrible.

"You can go, then," he said contemptuously.

There was a loud clapping from the boys who were perched on the
rail fence, but some of the girls were crying.  They were
frightened.  They had seen schoolboy fights before, but nothing
like Walter as he had grappled with Dan.  There had been
something terrifying about him.  They thought he would kill Dan.
Now that all was over they sobbed hysterically--except Faith, who
still stood tense and crimson cheeked.

Walter did not stay for any conqueror's meed.  He sprang over the
fence and rushed down the spruce hill to Rainbow Valley.  He felt
none of the victor's joy, but he felt a certain calm satisfaction
in duty done and honour avenged--mingled with a sickish qualm
when he thought of Dan's gory nose.  It had been so ugly, and
Walter hated ugliness.

Also, he began to realize that he himself was somewhat sore and
battered up.  His lip was cut and swollen and one eye felt very
strange.  In Rainbow Valley he encountered Mr. Meredith, who was
coming home from an afternoon call on the Miss Wests.  That
reverend gentleman looked gravely at him.

"It seems to me that you have been fighting, Walter?"

"Yes, sir," said Walter, expecting a scolding.

"What was it about?"

"Dan Reese said my mother wrote lies and that that Faith was a
pig-girl," answered Walter bluntly.

"Oh--h!  Then you were certainly justified, Walter."

"Do you think it's right to fight, sir?" asked Walter curiously.

"Not always--and not often--but sometimes--yes, sometimes," said
John Meredith.  "When womenkind are insulted for instance--as in
your case.  My motto, Walter, is, don't fight till you're sure
you ought to, and THEN put every ounce of you into it.  In spite
of sundry discolorations I infer that you came off best."

"Yes.  I made him take it all back."

"Very good--very good, indeed.  I didn't think you were such a
fighter, Walter."

"I never fought before--and I didn't want to right up to the
last--and then," said Walter, determined to make a clean breast
of it, "I liked it while I was at it."

The Rev. John's eyes twinkled.

"You were--a little frightened--at first?"

"I was a whole lot frightened," said honest Walter.  "But I'm not
going to be frightened any more, sir.  Being frightened of things
is worse than the things themselves.  I'm going to ask father to
take me over to Lowbridge to-morrow to get my tooth out."

"Right again.  'Fear is more pain than is the pain it fears.'  Do
you know who wrote that, Walter?  It was Shakespeare.  Was there
any feeling or emotion or experience of the human heart that that
wonderful man did not know?  When you go home tell your mother I
am proud of you."

Walter did not tell her that, however; but he told her all the
rest, and she sympathized with him and told him she was glad he
had stood up for her and Faith, and she anointed his sore spots
and rubbed cologne on his aching head.

"Are all mothers as nice as you?" asked Walter, hugging her.
"You're WORTH standing up for."

Miss Cornelia and Susan were in the living room when Anne came
downstairs, and listened to the story with much enjoyment.  Susan
in particular was highly gratified.

"I am real glad to hear he has had a good fight, Mrs. Dr. dear.
Perhaps it may knock that poetry nonsense out of him.  And I
never, no, never could bear that little viper of a Dan Reese.
Will you not sit nearer to the fire, Mrs. Marshall Elliott?
These November evenings are very chilly."

"Thank you, Susan, I'm not cold.  I called at the manse before I
came here and got quite warm--though I had to go to the kitchen
to do it, for there was no fire anywhere else.  The kitchen
looked as if it had been stirred up with a stick, believe ME.
Mr. Meredith wasn't home.  I couldn't find out where he was, but
I have an idea that he was up at the Wests'.  Do you know, Anne
dearie, they say he has been going there frequently all the fall
and people are beginning to think he is going to see Rosemary."

"He would get a very charming wife if he married Rosemary," said
Anne, piling driftwood on the fire.  "She is one of the most
delightful girls I've ever known--truly one of the race of
Joseph."

"Ye--s--only she is an Episcopalian," said Miss Cornelia
doubtfully.  "Of course, that is better than if she was a
Methodist--but I do think Mr. Meredith could find a good enough
wife in his own denomination.  However, very likely there is
nothing in it.  It's only a month ago that I said to him, 'You
ought to marry again, Mr. Meredith.'  He looked as shocked as if
I had suggested something improper.  'My wife is in her grave,
Mrs. Elliott,' he said, in that gentle, saintly way of his.  'I
suppose so,' I said, 'or I wouldn't be advising you to marry
again.'  Then he looked more shocked than ever.  So I doubt if
there is much in this Rosemary story.  If a single minister calls
twice at a house where there is a single woman all the gossips
have it he is courting her."

"It seems to me--if I may presume to say so--that Mr. Meredith is
too shy to go courting a second wife," said Susan solemnly.

"He ISN'T shy, believe ME," retorted Miss Cornelia.
"Absent-minded,--yes--but shy, no.  And for all he is so
abstracted and dreamy he has a very good opinion of himself,
man-like, and when he is really awake he wouldn't think it much
of a chore to ask any woman to have him.  No, the trouble is,
he's deluding himself into believing that his heart is buried,
while all the time it's beating away inside of him just like
anybody else's.  He may have a notion of Rosemary West and he may
not.  If he has, we must make the best of it.  She is a sweet
girl and a fine housekeeper, and would make a good mother for
those poor, neglected children.  And," concluded Miss Cornelia
resignedly, "my own grandmother was an Episcopalian."



CHAPTER XVIII. MARY BRINGS EVIL TIDINGS

Mary Vance, whom Mrs. Elliott had sent up to the manse on an
errand, came tripping down Rainbow Valley on her way to Ingleside
where she was to spend the afternoon with Nan and Di as a
Saturday treat.  Nan and Di had been picking spruce gum with
Faith and Una in the manse woods and the four of them were now
sitting on a fallen pine by the brook, all, it must be admitted,
chewing rather vigorously.  The Ingleside twins were not allowed
to chew spruce gum anywhere but in the seclusion of Rainbow
Valley, but Faith and Una were unrestricted by such rules of
etiquette and cheerfully chewed it everywhere, at home and
abroad, to the very proper horror of the Glen.  Faith had been
chewing it in church one day; but Jerry had realized the enormity
of THAT, and had given her such an older-brotherly scolding that
she never did it again.

"I was so hungry I just felt as if I had to chew something," she
protested.  "You know well enough what breakfast was like, Jerry
Meredith.  I COULDN'T eat scorched porridge and my stomach just
felt so queer and empty.  The gum helped a lot--and I didn't chew
VERY hard.  I didn't make any noise and I never cracked the gum
once."

"You mustn't chew gum in church, anyhow," insisted Jerry.  "Don't
let me catch you at it again."

"You chewed yourself in prayer-meeting last week," cried Faith.

"THAT'S different," said Jerry loftily.  "Prayer-meeting isn't on
Sunday.  Besides, I sat away at the back in a dark seat and
nobody saw me.  You were sitting right up front where every one
saw you.  And I took the gum out of my mouth for the last hymn
and stuck it on the back of the pew right up in front where every
one saw you.  And I took the gum out of my mouth for the last
hymn and stuck it on the back of the pew in front of me.  Then I
came away and forgot it.  I went back to get it next morning, but
it was gone.  I suppose Rod Warren swiped it.  And it was a dandy
chew."

Mary Vance walked down the Valley with her head held high.  She
had on a new blue velvet cap with a scarlet rosette in it, a coat
of navy blue cloth and a little squirrel-fur muff.  She was very
conscious of her new clothes and very well pleased with herself.
Her hair was elaborately crimped, her face was quite plump, her
cheeks rosy, her white eyes shining.  She did not look much like
the forlorn and ragged waif the Merediths had found in the old
Taylor barn.  Una tried not to feel envious.  Here was Mary with
a new velvet cap, but she and Faith had to wear their shabby old
gray tams again this winter.  Nobody ever thought of getting them
new ones and they were afraid to ask their father for them for
fear that he might be short of money and then he would feel
badly.  Mary had told them once that ministers were always short
of money, and found it "awful hard" to make ends meet.  Since
then Faith and Una would have gone in rags rather than ask their
father for anything if they could help it.  They did not worry a
great deal over their shabbiness; but it was rather trying to see
Mary Vance coming out in such style and putting on such airs
about it, too.  The new squirrel muff was really the last straw.
Neither Faith nor Una had ever had a muff, counting themselves
lucky if they could compass mittens without holes in them. Aunt
Martha could not see to darn holes and though Una tried to, she
made sad cobbling.  Somehow, they could not make their greeting
of Mary very cordial.  But Mary did not mind or notice that; she
was not overly sensitive.  She vaulted lightly to a seat on the
pine tree, and laid the offending muff on a bough.  Una saw that
it was lined with shirred red satin and had red tassels.  She
looked down at her own rather purple, chapped, little hands and
wondered if she would ever, EVER be able to put them into a muff
like that.

"Give us a chew," said Mary companionably.  Nan, Di and Faith all
produced an amber-hued knot or two from their pockets and passed
them to Mary.  Una sat very still.  She had four lovely big knots
in the pocket of her tight, thread-bare little jacket, but she
wasn't going to give one of them to Mary Vance--not one Let Mary
pick her own gum!  People with squirrel muffs needn't expect to
get everything in the world.

"Great day, isn't it?" said Mary, swinging her legs, the better,
perhaps, to display new boots with very smart cloth tops.  Una
tucked HER feet under her.  There was a hole in the toe of one of
her boots and both laces were much knotted.  But they were the
best she had.  Oh, this Mary Vance!  Why hadn't they left her in
the old barn?

Una never felt badly because the Ingleside twins were better
dressed than she and Faith were.  THEY wore their pretty clothes
with careless grace and never seemed to think about them at all.
Somehow, they did not make other people feel shabby.  But when
Mary Vance was dressed up she seemed fairly to exude clothes--to
walk in an atmosphere of clothes--to make everybody else feel and
think clothes.  Una, as she sat there in the honey-tinted
sunshine of the gracious December afternoon, was acutely and
miserably conscious of everything she had on--the faded tam,
which was yet her best, the skimpy jacket she had worn for three
winters, the holes in her skirt and her boots, the shivering
insufficiency of her poor little undergarments.  Of course, Mary
was going out for a visit and she was not.  But even if she had
been she had nothing better to put on and in this lay the sting.

"Say, this is great gum.  Listen to me cracking it.  There ain't
any gum spruces down at Four Winds," said Mary.  "Sometimes I
just hanker after a chew.  Mrs. Elliott won't let me chew gum if
she sees me.  She says it ain't lady-like.  This lady-business
puzzles me.  I can't get on to all its kinks.  Say, Una, what's
the matter with you?  Cat got your tongue?"

"No," said Una, who could not drag her fascinated eyes from that
squirrel muff.  Mary leaned past her, picked it up and thrust it
into Una's hands.

"Stick your paws in that for a while," she ordered.  "They look
sorter pinched.  Ain't that a dandy muff?  Mrs. Elliott give it
to me last week for a birthday present.  I'm to get the collar at
Christmas.  I heard her telling Mr. Elliott that."

"Mrs. Elliott is very good to you," said Faith.

"You bet she is.  And I'M good to her, too," retorted Mary.  "I
work like a nigger to make it easy for her and have everything
just as she likes it.  We was made for each other.  'Tisn't every
one could get along with her as well as I do.  She's pizen neat,
but so am I, and so we agree fine."

"I told you she would never whip you."

"So you did.  She's never tried to lay a finger on me and I ain't
never told a lie to her--not one, true's you live.  She combs me
down with her tongue sometimes though, but that just slips off ME
like water off a duck's back.  Say, Una, why didn't you hang on
to the muff?"

Una had put it back on the bough.

"My hands aren't cold, thank you," she said stiffly.

"Well, if you're satisfied, _I_ am.  Say, old Kitty Alec has come
back to church as meek as Moses and nobody knows why.  But
everybody is saying it was Faith brought Norman Douglas out.  His
housekeeper says you went there and gave him an awful
tongue-lashing.  Did you?"

"I went and asked him to come to church," said Faith
uncomfortably.

"Fancy your spunk!" said Mary admiringly.  "_I_ wouldn't have
dared do that and I'm not so slow.  Mrs. Wilson says the two of
you jawed something scandalous, but you come off best and then he
just turned round and like to eat you up.  Say, is your father
going to preach here to-morrow?"

"No.  He's going to exchange with Mr. Perry from Charlottetown.
Father went to town this morning and Mr. Perry is coming out
to-night."

"I THOUGHT there was something in the wind, though old Martha
wouldn't give me any satisfaction.  But I felt sure she wouldn't
have been killing that rooster for nothing."

"What rooster?  What do you mean?" cried Faith, turning pale.

"_I_ don't know what rooster.  I didn't see it.  When she took
the butter Mrs. Elliott sent up she said she'd been out to the
barn killing a rooster for dinner tomorrow."

Faith sprang down from the pine.

"It's Adam--we have no other rooster--she has killed Adam."

"Now, don't fly off the handle.  Martha said the butcher at the
Glen had no meat this week and she had to have something and the
hens were all laying and too poor."

"If she has killed Adam--" Faith began to run up the hill.

Mary shrugged her shoulders.

"She'll go crazy now.  She was so fond of that Adam.  He ought to
have been in the pot long ago--he'll be as tough as sole leather.
But _I_ wouldn't like to be in Martha's shoes.  Faith's just
white with rage; Una, you'd better go after her and try to
peacify her."

Mary had gone a few steps with the Blythe girls when Una suddenly
turned and ran after her.

"Here's some gum for you, Mary," she said, with a little
repentant catch in her voice, thrusting all her four knots into
Mary's hands, "and I'm glad you have such a pretty muff."

"Why, thanks," said Mary, rather taken by surprise.  To the
Blythe girls, after Una had gone, she said, "Ain't she a queer
little mite?  But I've always said she had a good heart."



CHAPTER XIX. POOR ADAM!

When Una got home Faith was lying face downwards on her bed,
utterly refusing to be comforted.  Aunt Martha had killed Adam.
He was reposing on a platter in the pantry that very minute,
trussed and dressed, encircled by his liver and heart and
gizzard.  Aunt Martha heeded Faith's passion of grief and anger
not a whit.

"We had to have something for the strange minister's dinner," she
said.  "You're too big a girl to make such a fuss over an old
rooster.  You knew he'd have to be killed sometime."

"I'll tell father when he comes home what you've done," sobbed
Faith.

"Don't you go bothering your poor father.  He has troubles
enough.  And I'M housekeeper here."

"Adam was MINE--Mrs. Johnson gave him to me.  You had no business
to touch him," stormed Faith.

"Don't you get sassy now.  The rooster's killed and there's an
end of it.  I ain't going to set no strange minister down to a
dinner of cold b'iled mutton.  I was brought up to know better
than that, if I have come down in the world."

Faith would not go down to supper that night and she would not go
to church the next morning.  But at dinner time she went to the
table, her eyes swollen with crying, her face sullen.

The Rev. James Perry was a sleek, rubicund man, with a bristling
white moustache, bushy white eyebrows, and a shining bald head.
He was certainly not handsome and he was a very tiresome, pompous
sort of person.  But if he had looked like the Archangel Michael
and talked with the tongues of men and angels Faith would still
have utterly detested him.  He carved Adam up dexterously,
showing off his plump white hands and very handsome diamond ring.
Also, he made jovial remarks all through the performance.  Jerry
and Carl giggled, and even Una smiled wanly, because she thought
politeness demanded it.  But Faith only scowled darkly.  The Rev.
James thought her manners shockingly bad.  Once, when he was
delivering himself of an unctuous remark to Jerry, Faith broke in
rudely with a flat contradiction.  The Rev. James drew his bushy
eyebrows together at her.

"Little girls should not interrupt," he said, "and they should
not contradict people who know far more than they do."

This put Faith in a worse temper than ever.  To be called "little
girl" as if she were no bigger than chubby Rilla Blythe over at
Ingleside!  It was insufferable.  And how that abominable Mr.
Perry did eat!  He even picked poor Adam's bones.  Neither Faith
nor Una would touch a mouthful, and looked upon the boys as
little better than cannibals.  Faith felt that if that awful
repast did not soon come to an end she would wind it up by
throwing something at Mr. Perry's gleaming head.  Fortunately,
Mr. Perry found Aunt Martha's leathery apple pie too much even
for his powers of mastication and the meal came to an end, after
a long grace in which Mr. Perry offered up devout thanks for the
food which a kind and beneficent Providence had provided for
sustenance and temperate pleasure.

"God hadn't a single thing to do with providing Adam for you,"
muttered Faith rebelliously under her breath.

The boys gladly made their escape to outdoors, Una went to help
Aunt Martha with the dishes--though that rather grumpy old dame
never welcomed her timid assistance--and Faith betook herself to
the study where a cheerful wood fire was burning in the grate.
She thought she would thereby escape from the hated Mr. Perry,
who had announced his intention of taking a nap in his room
during the afternoon.  But scarcely had Faith settled herself in
a corner, with a book, when he walked in and, standing before the
fire, proceeded to survey the disorderly study with an air of
disapproval.

"You father's books seem to be in somewhat deplorable confusion,
my little girl," he said severely.

Faith darkled in her corner and said not a word.  She would NOT
talk to this--this creature.

"You should try to put them in order," Mr. Perry went on, playing
with his handsome watch chain and smiling patronizingly on Faith.
"You are quite old enough to attend to such duties.  MY little
daughter at home is only ten and she is already an excellent
little housekeeper and the greatest help and comfort to her
mother.  She is a very sweet child.  I wish you had the privilege
of her acquaintance.  She could help you in many ways.  Of
course, you have not had the inestimable privilege of a good
mother's care and training.  A sad lack--a very sad lack.  I have
spoken more than once to your father in this connection and
pointed out his duty to him faithfully, but so far with no
effect.  I trust he may awaken to a realization of his
responsibility before it is too late.  In the meantime, it is
your duty and privilege to endeavour to take your sainted
mother's place.  You might exercise a great influence over your
brothers and your little sister--you might be a true mother to
them.  I fear that you do not think of these things as you
should.  My dear child, allow me to open your eyes in regard to
them."

Mr. Perry's oily, complacent voice trickled on.  He was in his
element.  Nothing suited him better than to lay down the law,
patronize and exhort.  He had no idea of stopping, and he did not
stop.  He stood before the fire, his feet planted firmly on the
rug, and poured out a flood of pompous platitudes.  Faith heard
not a word.  She was really not listening to him at all.  But she
was watching his long black coat-tails with impish delight
growing in her brown eyes.  Mr. Perry was standing VERY near the
fire.  His coat-tails began to scorch--his coat-tails began to
smoke.  He still prosed on, wrapped up in his own eloquence.  The
coat-tails smoked worse.  A tiny spark flew up from the burning
wood and alighted in the middle of one.  It clung and caught and
spread into a smouldering flame.  Faith could restrain herself no
longer and broke into a stifled giggle.

Mr. Perry stopped short, angered over this impertinence.
Suddenly he became conscious that a reek of burning cloth filled
the room.  He whirled round and saw nothing.  Then he clapped his
hands to his coat-tails and brought them around in front of him.
There was already quite a hole in one of them--and this was his
new suit.  Faith shook with helpless laughter over his pose and
expression.

"Did you see my coat-tails burning?" he demanded angrily.

"Yes, sir," said Faith demurely.

"Why didn't you tell me?" he demanded, glaring at her.

"You said it wasn't good manners to interrupt, sir," said Faith,
more demurely still.

"If--if I was your father, I would give you a spanking that you
would remember all your life, Miss," said a very angry reverend
gentleman, as he stalked out of the study.  The coat of Mr.
Meredith's second best suit would not fit Mr. Perry, so he had to
go to the evening service with his singed coat-tail.  But he did
not walk up the aisle with his usual consciousness of the honour
he was conferring on the building.  He never would agree to an
exchange of pulpits with Mr. Meredith again, and he was barely
civil to the latter when they met for a few minutes at the
station the next morning.  But Faith felt a certain gloomy
satisfaction.  Adam was partially avenged.



CHAPTER XX. FAITH MAKES A FRIEND

Next day in school was a hard one for Faith.  Mary Vance had told
the tale of Adam, and all the scholars, except the Blythes,
thought it quite a joke.  The girls told Faith, between giggles,
that it was too bad, and the boys wrote sardonic notes of
condolence to her.  Poor Faith went home from school feeling her
very soul raw and smarting within her.

"I'm going over to Ingleside to have a talk with Mrs. Blythe,"
she sobbed.  "SHE won't laugh at me, as everybody else does.
I've just GOT to talk to somebody who understands how bad I
feel."

She ran down through Rainbow Valley.  Enchantment had been at
work the night before.  A light snow had fallen and the powdered
firs were dreaming of a spring to come and a joy to be.  The long
hill beyond was richly purple with leafless beeches.  The rosy
light of sunset lay over the world like a pink kiss.  Of all the
airy, fairy places, full of weird, elfin grace, Rainbow Valley
that winter evening was the most beautiful.  But all its
dreamlike loveliness was lost on poor, sore-hearted little Faith.

By the brook she came suddenly upon Rosemary West, who was
sitting on the old pine tree.  She was on her way home from
Ingleside, where she had been giving the girls their music
lesson.  She had been lingering in Rainbow Valley quite a little
time, looking across its white beauty and roaming some by-ways of
dream.  Judging from the expression of her face, her thoughts
were pleasant ones.  Perhaps the faint, occasional tinkle from
the bells on the Tree Lovers brought the little lurking smile to
her lips.  Or perhaps it was occasioned by the consciousness that
John Meredith seldom failed to spend Monday evening in the gray
house on the white wind-swept hill.

Into Rosemary's dreams burst Faith Meredith full of rebellious
bitterness.  Faith stopped abruptly when she saw Miss West.  She
did not know her very well--just well enough to speak to when
they met.  And she did not want to see any one just then--except
Mrs. Blythe.  She knew her eyes and nose were red and swollen and
she hated to have a stranger know she had been crying.

"Good evening, Miss West," she said uncomfortably.

"What is the matter, Faith?" asked Rosemary gently.

"Nothing," said Faith rather shortly.

"Oh!" Rosemary smiled.  "You mean nothing that you can tell to
outsiders, don't you?"

Faith looked at Miss West with sudden interest.  Here was a
person who understood things.  And how pretty she was!  How
golden her hair was under her plumy hat!  How pink her cheeks
were over her velvet coat!  How blue and companionable her eyes
were!  Faith felt that Miss West could be a lovely friend--if
only she were a friend instead of a stranger!

"I--I'm going up to tell Mrs. Blythe," said Faith.  "She always
understands--she never laughs at us.  I always talk things over
with her.  It helps."

"Dear girlie, I'm sorry to have to tell you that Mrs. Blythe
isn't home," said Miss West, sympathetically.  "She went to
Avonlea to-day and isn't coming back till the last of the week."

Faith's lip quivered.

"Then I might as well go home again," she said miserably.

"I suppose so--unless you think you could bring yourself to talk
it over with me instead," said Miss Rosemary gently.  "It IS such
a help to talk things over.  _I_ know.  I don't suppose I can be
as good at understanding as Mrs. Blythe--but I promise you that I
won't laugh."

"You wouldn't laugh outside," hesitated Faith.  "But you
might--inside."

"No, I wouldn't laugh inside, either.  Why should I?  Something
has hurt you--it never amuses me to see anybody hurt, no matter
what hurts them.  If you feel that you'd like to tell me what has
hurt you I'll be glad to listen.  But if you think you'd rather
not--that's all right, too, dear."

Faith took another long, earnest look into Miss West's eyes.
They were very serious--there was no laughter in them, not even
far, far back.  With a little sigh she sat down on the old pine
beside her new friend and told her all about Adam and his cruel
fate.

Rosemary did not laugh or feel like laughing.  She understood and
sympathized--really, she was almost as good as Mrs. Blythe--yes,
quite as good.

"Mr. Perry is a minister, but he should have been a BUTCHER,"
said Faith bitterly.  "He is so fond of carving things up.  He
ENJOYED cutting poor Adam to pieces.  He just sliced into him as
if he were any common rooster."

"Between you and me, Faith, _I_ don't like Mr. Perry very well
myself," said Rosemary, laughing a little--but at Mr. Perry, not
at Adam, as Faith clearly understood.  "I never did like him.  I
went to school with him--he was a Glen boy, you know--and he was
a most detestable little prig even then.  Oh, how we girls used
to hate holding his fat, clammy hands in the ring-around games.
But we must remember, dear, that he didn't know that Adam had
been a pet of yours.  He thought he WAS just a common rooster.
We must be just, even when we are terribly hurt."

"I suppose so," admitted Faith.  "But why does everybody seem to
think it funny that I should have loved Adam so much, Miss West?
If it had been a horrid old cat nobody would have thought it
queer.  When Lottie Warren's kitten had its legs cut off by the
binder everybody was sorry for her.  She cried two days in school
and nobody laughed at her, not even Dan Reese.  And all her chums
went to the kitten's funeral and helped her bury it--only they
couldn't bury its poor little paws with it, because they couldn't
find them.  It was a horrid thing to have happen, of course, but
I don't think it was as dreadful as seeing your pet EATEN UP.
Yet everybody laughs at ME."

"I think it is because the name 'rooster' seems rather a funny
one," said Rosemary gravely.  "There IS something in it that is
comical.  Now, 'chicken' is different.  It doesn't sound so funny
to talk of loving a chicken."

"Adam was the dearest little chicken, Miss West.  He was just a
little golden ball.  He would run up to me and peck out of my
hand.  And he was handsome when he grew up, too--white as snow,
with such a beautiful curving white tail, though Mary Vance said
it was too short.  He knew his name and always came when I called
him--he was a very intelligent rooster.  And Aunt Martha had no
right to kill him.  He was mine.  It wasn't fair, was it, Miss
West?"

"No, it wasn't," said Rosemary decidedly.  "Not a bit fair.  I
remember I had a pet hen when I was a little girl.  She was such
a pretty little thing--all golden brown and speckly.  I loved her
as much as I ever loved any pet.  She was never killed--she died
of old age.  Mother wouldn't have her killed because she was my
pet."

"If MY mother had been living she wouldn't have let Adam be
killed," said Faith.  "For that matter, father wouldn't have
either, if he'd been home and known of it.  I'm SURE he wouldn't,
Miss West."

"I'm sure, too," said Rosemary.  There was a little added flush on
her face.  She looked rather conscious but Faith noticed nothing.

"Was it VERY wicked of me not to tell Mr. Perry his coat-tails
were scorching?" she asked anxiously.

"Oh, terribly wicked," answered Rosemary, with dancing eyes.
"But _I_ would have been just as naughty, Faith--_I_ wouldn't
have told him they were scorching--and I don't believe I would
ever have been a bit sorry for my wickedness, either."

"Una thought I should have told him because he was a minister."

"Dearest, if a minister doesn't behave as a gentleman we are not
bound to respect his coat-tails.  I know _I_ would just have
loved to see Jimmy Perry's coat-tails burning up.  It must have
been fun."

Both laughed; but Faith ended with a bitter little sigh.

"Well, anyway, Adam is dead and I am NEVER going to love anything
again."

"Don't say that, dear.  We miss so much out of life if we don't
love.  The more we love the richer life is--even if it is only
some little furry or feathery pet.  Would you like a canary,
Faith--a little golden bit of a canary?  If you would I'll give
you one.  We have two up home."

"Oh, I WOULD like that," cried Faith.  "I love birds.
Only--would Aunt Martha's cat eat it?  It's so TRAGIC to have
your pets eaten.  I don't think I could endure it a second time."

"If you hang the cage far enough from the wall I don't think the
cat could harm it.  I'll tell you just how to take care of it and
I'll bring it to Ingleside for you the next time I come down."

To herself, Rosemary was thinking,

"It will give every gossip in the Glen something to talk of, but
I WILL not care.  I want to comfort this poor little heart."

Faith was comforted.  Sympathy and understanding were very sweet.
She and Miss Rosemary sat on the old pine until the twilight
crept softly down over the white valley and the evening star
shone over the gray maple grove.  Faith told Rosemary all her
small history and hopes, her likes and dislikes, the ins and outs
of life at the manse, the ups and downs of school society.
Finally they parted firm friends.

Mr. Meredith was, as usual, lost in dreams when supper began that
evening, but presently a name pierced his abstraction and brought
him back to reality.  Faith was telling Una of her meeting with
Rosemary.

"She is just lovely, I think," said Faith.  "Just as nice as Mrs.
Blythe--but different.  I felt as if I wanted to hug her.  She
did hug ME--such a nice, velvety hug.  And she called me
'dearest.' It THRILLED me.  I could tell her ANYTHING."

"So you liked Miss West, Faith?" Mr. Meredith asked, with a
rather odd intonation.

"I love her," cried Faith.

"Ah!" said Mr. Meredith.  "Ah!"



CHAPTER XXI. THE IMPOSSIBLE WORD

John Meredith walked meditatively through the clear crispness of
a winter night in Rainbow Valley.  The hills beyond glistened
with the chill splendid lustre of moonlight on snow.  Every
little fir tree in the long valley sang its own wild song to the
harp of wind and frost.  His children and the Blythe lads and
lasses were coasting down the eastern slope and whizzing over the
glassy pond.  They were having a glorious time and their gay
voices and gayer laughter echoed up and down the valley, dying
away in elfin cadences among the trees.  On the right the lights
of Ingleside gleamed through the maple grove with the genial lure
and invitation which seems always to glow in the beacons of a
home where we know there is love and good-cheer and a welcome for
all kin, whether of flesh or spirit.  Mr. Meredith liked very well
on occasion to spend an evening arguing with the doctor by the
drift wood fire, where the famous china dogs of Ingleside kept
ceaseless watch and ward, as became deities of the hearth, but
to-night he did not look that way.  Far on the western hill
gleamed a paler but more alluring star.  Mr. Meredith was on his
way to see Rosemary West, and he meant to tell her something
which had been slowly blossoming in his heart since their first
meeting and had sprung into full flower on the evening when Faith
had so warmly voiced her admiration for Rosemary.

He had come to realize that he had learned to care for Rosemary.
Not as he had cared for Cecilia, of course.  THAT was entirely
different.  That love of romance and dream and glamour could
never, he thought, return.  But Rosemary was beautiful and sweet
and dear--very dear.  She was the best of companions.  He was
happier in her company than he had ever expected to be again.
She would be an ideal mistress for his home, a good mother to his
children.

During the years of his widowhood Mr. Meredith had received
innumerable hints from brother members of Presbytery and from
many parishioners who could not be suspected of any ulterior
motive, as well as from some who could, that he ought to marry
again: But these hints never made any impression on him.  It was
commonly thought he was never aware of them.  But he was quite
acutely aware of them.  And in his own occasional visitations of
common sense he knew that the common sensible thing for him to do
was to marry.  But common sense was not the strong point of John
Meredith, and to choose out, deliberately and cold-bloodedly,
some "suitable" woman, as one might choose a housekeeper or a
business partner, was something he was quite incapable of doing.
How he hated that word "suitable."  It reminded him so strongly
of James Perry.  "A SUIT able woman of SUIT able age," that
unctuous brother of the cloth had said, in his far from subtle
hint.  For the moment John Meredith had had a perfectly
unbelievable desire to rush madly away and propose marriage to
the youngest, most unsuitable woman it was possible to discover.

Mrs. Marshall Elliott was his good friend and he liked her.  But
when she had bluntly told him he should marry again he felt as if
she had torn away the veil that hung before some sacred shrine of
his innermost life, and he had been more or less afraid of her
ever since.  He knew there were women in his congregation "of
suitable age" who would marry him quite readily.  That fact had
seeped through all his abstraction very early in his ministry in
Glen St. Mary.  They were good, substantial, uninteresting women,
one or two fairly comely, the others not exactly so and John
Meredith would as soon have thought of marrying any one of them
as of hanging himself.  He had some ideals to which no seeming
necessity could make him false.  He could ask no woman to fill
Cecilia's place in his home unless he could offer her at least
some of the affection and homage he had given to his girlish
bride.  And where, in his limited feminine acquaintance, was such
a woman to be found?

Rosemary West had come into his life on that autumn evening
bringing with her an atmosphere in which his spirit recognized
native air.  Across the gulf of strangerhood they clasped hands
of friendship.  He knew her better in that ten minutes by the
hidden spring than he knew Emmeline Drew or Elizabeth Kirk or Amy
Annetta Douglas in a year, or could know them, in a century.  He
had fled to her for comfort when Mrs. Alec Davis had outraged his
mind and soul and had found it.  Since then he had gone often to
the house on the hill, slipping through the shadowy paths of
night in Rainbow Valley so astutely that Glen gossip could never
be absolutely certain that he DID go to see Rosemary West.  Once
or twice he had been caught in the West living room by other
visitors; that was all the Ladies' Aid had to go by.  But when
Elizabeth Kirk heard it she put away a secret hope she had
allowed herself to cherish, without a change of expression on her
kind plain face, and Emmeline Drew resolved that the next time
she saw a certain old bachelor of Lowbridge she would not snub
him as she had done at a previous meeting.  Of course, if
Rosemary West was out to catch the minister she would catch him;
she looked younger than she was and MEN thought her pretty;
besides, the West girls had money!

"It is to be hoped that he won't be so absent-minded as to
propose to Ellen by mistake," was the only malicious thing she
allowed herself to say to a sympathetic sister Drew.  Emmeline
bore no further grudge towards Rosemary.  When all was said and
done, an unencumbered bachelor was far better than a widower with
four children.  It had been only the glamour of the manse that
had temporarily blinded Emmeline's eyes to the better part.

A sled with three shrieking occupants sped past Mr. Meredith to
the pond.  Faith's long curls streamed in the wind and her
laughter rang above that of the others.  John Meredith looked
after them kindly and longingly.  He was glad that his children
had such chums as the Blythes--glad that they had so wise and gay
and tender a friend as Mrs. Blythe.  But they needed something
more, and that something would be supplied when he brought
Rosemary West as a bride to the old manse.  There was in her a
quality essentially maternal.

It was Saturday night and he did not often go calling on Saturday
night, which was supposed to be dedicated to a thoughtful
revision of Sunday's sermon.  But he had chosen this night
because he had learned that Ellen West was going to be away and
Rosemary would be alone.  Often as he had spent pleasant evenings
in the house on the hill he had never, since that first meeting
at the spring, seen Rosemary alone.  Ellen had always been there.

He did not precisely object to Ellen being there.  He liked Ellen
West very much and they were the best of friends.  Ellen had an
almost masculine understanding and a sense of humour which his
own shy, hidden appreciation of fun found very agreeable.  He
liked her interest in politics and world events.  There was no
man in the Glen, not even excepting Dr. Blythe, who had a better
grasp of such things.

"I think it is just as well to be interested in things as long as
you live," she had said.  "If you're not, it doesn't seem to me
that there's much difference between the quick and the dead."

He liked her pleasant, deep, rumbly voice; he liked the hearty
laugh with which she always ended up some jolly and well-told
story.  She never gave him digs about his children as other Glen
women did; she never bored him with local gossip; she had no
malice and no pettiness.  She was always splendidly sincere.  Mr.
Meredith, who had picked up Miss Cornelia's way of classifying
people, considered that Ellen belonged to the race of Joseph.
Altogether, an admirable woman for a sister-in-law.
Nevertheless, a man did not want even the most admirable of women
around when he was proposing to another woman.  And Ellen was
always around.  She did not insist on talking to Mr. Meredith
herself all the time.  She let Rosemary have a fair share of him.
Many evenings, indeed, Ellen effaced herself almost totally,
sitting back in the corner with St. George in her lap, and
letting Mr. Meredith and Rosemary talk and sing and read books
together.  Sometimes they quite forgot her presence.  But if
their conversation or choice of duets ever betrayed the least
tendency to what Ellen considered philandering, Ellen promptly
nipped that tendency in the bud and blotted Rosemary out for the
rest of the evening.  But not even the grimmest of amiable
dragons can altogether prevent a certain subtle language of eye
and smile and eloquent silence; and so the minister's courtship
progressed after a fashion.

But if it was ever to reach a climax that climax must come when
Ellen was away.  And Ellen was so seldom away, especially in
winter.  She found her own fireside the pleasantest place in the
world, she vowed.  Gadding had no attraction for her.  She was
fond of company but she wanted it at home.  Mr. Meredith had
almost been driven to the conclusion that he must write to
Rosemary what he wanted to say, when Ellen casually announced one
evening that she was going to a silver wedding next Saturday
night.  She had been bridesmaid when the principals were married.
Only old guests were invited, so Rosemary was not included.  Mr.
Meredith pricked up his ears a trifle and a gleam flashed into
his dreamy dark eyes.  Both Ellen and Rosemary saw it; and both
Ellen and Rosemary felt, with a tingling shock, that Mr. Meredith
would certainly come up the hill next Saturday night.

"Might as well have it over with, St. George," Ellen sternly told
the black cat, after Mr. Meredith had gone home and Rosemary had
silently gone upstairs.  "He means to ask her, St. George--I'm
perfectly sure of that.  So he might as well have his chance to
do it and find out he can't get her, George.  She'd rather like
to take him, Saint.  I know that--but she promised, and she's got
to keep her promise.  I'm rather sorry in some ways, St. George.
I don't know of a man I'd sooner have for a brother-in-law if a
brother-in-law was convenient.  I haven't a thing against him,
Saint--not a thing except that he won't see and can't be made to
see that the Kaiser is a menace to the peace of Europe.  That's
HIS blind spot.  But he's good company and I like him.  A woman
can say anything she likes to a man with a mouth like John
Meredith's and be sure of not being misunderstood.  Such a man is
more precious than rubies, Saint--and much rarer, George.  But he
can't have Rosemary--and I suppose when he finds out he can't
have her he'll drop us both.  And we'll miss him, Saint--we'll
miss him something scandalous, George.  But she promised, and
I'll see that she keeps her promise!"

Ellen's face looked almost ugly in its lowering resolution.
Upstairs Rosemary was crying into her pillow.

So Mr. Meredith found his lady alone and looking very beautiful.
Rosemary had not made any special toilet for the occasion; she
wanted to, but she thought it would be absurd to dress up for a
man you meant to refuse.  So she wore her plain dark afternoon
dress and looked like a queen in it.  Her suppressed excitement
coloured her face to brilliancy, her great blue eyes were pools
of light less placid than usual.

She wished the interview were over.  She had looked forward to it
all day with dread.  She felt quite sure that John Meredith cared
a great deal for her after a fashion--and she felt just as sure
that he did not care for her as he had cared for his first love.
She felt that her refusal would disappoint him considerably, but
she did not think it would altogether overwhelm him.  Yet she
hated to make it; hated for his sake and--Rosemary was quite
honest with herself--for her own.  She knew she could have loved
John Meredith if--if it had been permissible.  She knew that
life would be a blank thing if, rejected as lover, he refused
longer to be a friend.  She knew that she could be very happy
with him and that she could make him happy.  But between her and
happiness stood the prison gate of the promise she had made to
Ellen years ago.  Rosemary could not remember her father.  He had
died when she was only three years old.  Ellen, who had been
thirteen, remembered him, but with no special tenderness.  He had
been a stern, reserved man many years older than his fair, pretty
wife.  Five years later their brother of twelve died also; since
his death the two girls had always lived alone with their mother.
They had never mingled very freely in the social life of the Glen
or Lowbridge, though where they went the wit and spirit of Ellen
and the sweetness and beauty of Rosemary made them welcome
guests.  Both had what was called "a disappointment" in their
girlhood.  The sea had not given up Rosemary's lover; and Norman
Douglas, then a handsome, red-haired young giant, noted for wild
driving and noisy though harmless escapades, had quarrelled with
Ellen and left her in a fit of pique.

There were not lacking candidates for both Martin's and Norman's
places, but none seemed to find favour in the eyes of the West
girls, who drifted slowly out of youth and bellehood without any
seeming regret.  They were devoted to their mother, who was a
chronic invalid.  The three had a little circle of home
interests--books and pets and flowers--which made them happy and
contented.

Mrs. West's death, which occurred on Rosemary's twenty-fifth
birthday, was a bitter grief to them.  At first they were
intolerably lonely.  Ellen, especially, continued to grieve and
brood, her long, moody musings broken only by fits of stormy,
passionate weeping.  The old Lowbridge doctor told Rosemary that
he feared permanent melancholy or worse.

Once, when Ellen had sat all day, refusing either to speak or
eat, Rosemary had flung herself on her knees by her sister's
side.

"Oh, Ellen, you have me yet," she said imploringly.  "Am I
nothing to you?  We have always loved each other so."

"I won't have you always," Ellen had said, breaking her silence
with harsh intensity.  "You will marry and leave me.  I shall be
left all alone.  I cannot bear the thought--I CANNOT.  I would
rather die."

"I will never marry," said Rosemary, "never, Ellen."

Ellen bent forward and looked searchingly into Rosemary's eyes.

"Will you promise me that solemnly?" she said.  "Promise it on
mother's Bible."

Rosemary assented at once, quite willing to humour Ellen.  What
did it matter?  She knew quite well she would never want to marry
any one.  Her love had gone down with Martin Crawford to the
deeps of the sea; and without love she could not marry any one.
So she promised readily, though Ellen made rather a fearsome rite
of it.  They clasped hands over the Bible, in their mother's
vacant room, and both vowed to each other that they would never
marry and would always live together.

Ellen's condition improved from that hour.  She soon regained her
normal cheery poise.  For ten years she and Rosemary lived in the
old house happily, undisturbed by any thought of marrying or
giving in marriage.  Their promise sat very lightly on them.
Ellen never failed to remind her sister of it whenever any
eligible male creature crossed their paths, but she had never
been really alarmed until John Meredith came home that night with
Rosemary.  As for Rosemary, Ellen's obsession regarding that
promise had always been a little matter of mirth to her--until
lately.  Now, it was a merciless fetter, self-imposed but never
to be shaken off.  Because of it to-night she must turn her face
from happiness.

It was true that the shy, sweet, rosebud love she had given to
her boy-lover she could never give to another.  But she knew now
that she could give to John Meredith a love richer and more
womanly.  She knew that he touched deeps in her nature that
Martin had never touched--that had not, perhaps, been in the girl
of seventeen to touch.  And she must send him away to-night--send
him back to his lonely hearth and his empty life and his
heart-breaking problems, because she had promised Ellen, ten
years before, on their mother's Bible, that she would never
marry.

John Meredith did not immediately grasp his opportunity.  On the
contrary, he talked for two good hours on the least lover-like of
subjects.  He even tried politics, though politics always bored
Rosemary.  The later began to think that she had been altogether
mistaken, and her fears and expectations suddenly seemed to her
grotesque.  She felt flat and foolish.  The glow went out of her
face and the lustre out of her eyes.  John Meredith had not the
slightest intention of asking her to marry him.

And then, quite suddenly, he rose, came across the room, and
standing by her chair, he asked it.  The room had grown terribly
still.  Even St. George ceased to purr.  Rosemary heard her own
heart beating and was sure John Meredith must hear it too.

Now was the time for her to say no, gently but firmly.  She had
been ready for days with her stilted, regretful little formula.
And now the words of it had completely vanished from her mind.
She had to say no--and she suddenly found she could not say it.
It was the impossible word.  She knew now that it was not that
she COULD have loved John Meredith, but that she DID love him.
The thought of putting him from her life was agony.

She must say SOMETHING; she lifted her bowed golden head and
asked him stammeringly to give her a few days for--for
consideration.

John Meredith was a little surprised.  He was not vainer than any
man has a right to be, but he had expected that Rosemary West
would say yes.  He had been tolerably sure she cared for him.
Then why this doubt--this hesitation?  She was not a school girl
to be uncertain as to her own mind.  He felt an ugly shock of
disappointment and dismay.  But he assented to her request with
his unfailing gentle courtesy and went away at once.

"I will tell you in a few days," said Rosemary, with downcast
eyes and burning face.

When the door shut behind him she went back into the room and
wrung her hands.



CHAPTER XXII. ST. GEORGE KNOWS ALL ABOUT IT

At midnight Ellen West was walking home from the Pollock silver
wedding.  She had stayed a little while after the other guests
had gone, to help the gray-haired bride wash the dishes.  The
distance between the two houses was not far and the road good, so
that Ellen was enjoying the walk back home in the moonlight.

The evening had been a pleasant one.  Ellen, who had not been to
a party for years, found it very pleasant.  All the guests had
been members of her old set and there was no intrusive youth to
spoil the flavour, for the only son of the bride and groom was
far away at college and could not be present.  Norman Douglas had
been there and they had met socially for the first time in years,
though she had seen him once or twice in church that winter.  Not
the least sentiment was awakened in Ellen's heart by their
meeting.  She was accustomed to wonder, when she thought about it
at all, how she could ever have fancied him or felt so badly over
his sudden marriage.  But she had rather liked meeting him again.
She had forgotten how bracing and stimulating he could be.  No
gathering was ever stagnant when Norman Douglas was present.
Everybody had been surprised when Norman came.  It was well known
he never went anywhere.  The Pollocks had invited him because he
had been one of the original guests, but they never thought he
would come.  He had taken his second cousin, Amy Annetta Douglas,
out to supper and seemed rather attentive to her.  But Ellen sat
across the table from him and had a spirited argument with
him--an argument during which all his shouting and banter could
not fluster her and in which she came off best, flooring Norman
so composedly and so completely that he was silent for ten
minutes.  At the end of which time he had muttered in his ruddy
beard--"spunky as ever--spunky as ever"--and began to hector Amy
Annetta, who giggled foolishly over his sallies where Ellen would
have retorted bitingly.

Ellen thought these things over as she walked home, tasting them
with reminiscent relish.  The moonlit air sparkled with frost.
The snow crisped under her feet.  Below her lay the Glen with the
white harbour beyond.  There was a light in the manse study.  So
John Meredith had gone home.  Had he asked Rosemary to marry him?
And after what fashion had she made her refusal known?  Ellen
felt that she would never know this, though she was quite
curious.  She was sure Rosemary would never tell her anything
about it and she would not dare to ask.  She must just be content
with the fact of the refusal.  After all, that was the only thing
that really mattered.

"I hope he'll have sense enough to come back once in a while and
be friendly," she said to herself.  She disliked so much to be
alone that thinking aloud was one of her devices for
circumventing unwelcome solitude.  "It's awful never to have a
man-body with some brains to talk to once in a while.  And like
as not he'll never come near the house again.  There's Norman
Douglas, too--I like that man, and I'd like to have a good
rousing argument with him now and then.  But he'd never dare come
up for fear people would think he was courting me again--for fear
I'D think it, too, most likely--though he's more a stranger to me
now than John Meredith.  It seems like a dream that we could ever
have been beaus.  But there it is--there's only two men in the
Glen I'd ever want to talk to--and what with gossip and this
wretched love-making business it's not likely I'll ever see
either of them again.  I could," said Ellen, addressing the
unmoved stars with a spiteful emphasis, "I could have made a
better world myself."

She paused at her gate with a sudden vague feeling of alarm.
There was still a light in the living-room and to and fro across
the window-shades went the shadow of a woman walking restlessly
up and down.  What was Rosemary doing up at this hour of the
night?  And why was she striding about like a lunatic?

Ellen went softly in.  As she opened the hall door Rosemary came
out of the room.  She was flushed and breathless.  An atmosphere
of stress and passion hung about her like a garment.

"Why aren't you in bed, Rosemary?" demanded Ellen.

"Come in here," said Rosemary intensely.  "I want to tell you
something."

Ellen composedly removed her wraps and overshoes, and followed
her sister into the warm, fire-lighted room.  She stood with her
hand on the table and waited.  She was looking very handsome
herself, in her own grim, black-browed style.  The new black
velvet dress, with its train and V-neck, which she had made
purposely for the party, became her stately, massive figure.  She
wore coiled around her neck the rich heavy necklace of amber
beads which was a family heirloom.  Her walk in the frosty air
had stung her cheeks into a glowing scarlet.  But her steel-blue
eyes were as icy and unyielding as the sky of the winter night.
She stood waiting in a silence which Rosemary could break only by
a convulsive effort.

"Ellen, Mr. Meredith was here this evening."

"Yes?"

"And--and--he asked me to marry him."

"So I expected.  Of course, you refused him?"

"No."

"Rosemary."  Ellen clenched her hands and took an involuntary
step forward.  "Do you mean to tell me that you accepted him?"

"No--no."

Ellen recovered her self-command.

"What DID you do then?"

"I--I asked him to give me a few days to think it over."

"I hardly see why that was necessary," said Ellen, coldly
contemptuous, "when there is only the one answer you can make
him."

Rosemary held out her hands beseechingly.

"Ellen," she said desperately, "I love John Meredith--I want to
be his wife.  Will you set me free from that promise?"

"No," said Ellen, merciless, because she was sick from fear.

"Ellen--Ellen--"

"Listen," interrupted Ellen.  "I did not ask you for that
promise.  You offered it."

"I know--I know.  But I did not think then that I could ever care
for anyone again."

"You offered it," went on Ellen unmovably.  "You promised it over
our mother's Bible.  It was more than a promise--it was an oath.
Now you want to break it."

"I only asked you to set me free from it, Ellen."

"I will not do it.  A promise is a promise in my eyes.  I will
not do it.  Break your promise--be forsworn if you will--but it
shall not be with any assent of mine."

"You are very hard on me, Ellen."

"Hard on you!  And what of me?  Have you ever given a thought to
what my loneliness would be here if you left me?  I could not
bear it--I would go crazy.  I CANNOT live alone.  Haven't I been
a good sister to you?  Have I ever opposed any wish of yours?
Haven't I indulged you in everything?"

"Yes--yes."

"Then why do you want to leave me for this man whom you hadn't
seen a year ago?"

"I love him, Ellen."

"Love!  You talk like a school miss instead of a middle-aged
woman.  He doesn't love you.  He wants a housekeeper and a
governess.  You don't love him.  You want to be 'Mrs.'--you are
one of those weak-minded women who think it's a disgrace to be
ranked as an old maid.  That's all there is to it."

Rosemary quivered.  Ellen could not, or would not, understand.
There was no use arguing with her.

"So you won't release me, Ellen?"

"No, I won't.  And I won't talk of it again.  You promised and
you've got to keep your word.  That's all.  Go to bed.  Look at
the time!  You're all romantic and worked up.  To-morrow you'll
be more sensible.  At any rate, don't let me hear any more of
this nonsense.  Go."

Rosemary went without another word, pale and spiritless.  Ellen
walked stormily about the room for a few minutes, then paused
before the chair where St. George had been calmly sleeping
through the whole evening.  A reluctant smile overspread her dark
face.  There had been only one time in her life--the time of her
mother's death--when Ellen had not been able to temper tragedy
with comedy.  Even in that long ago bitterness, when Norman
Douglas had, after a fashion, jilted her, she had laughed at
herself quite as often as she had cried.

"I expect there'll be some sulking, St. George.  Yes, Saint, I
expect we are in for a few unpleasant foggy days.  Well, we'll
weather them through, George.  We've dealt with foolish children
before, Saint.  Rosemary'll sulk a while--and then she'll get
over it--and all will be as before, George.  She promised--and
she's got to keep her promise.  And that's the last word on the
subject I'll say to you or her or anyone, Saint."

But Ellen lay savagely awake till morning.

There was no sulking, however.  Rosemary was pale and quiet the
next day, but beyond that Ellen could detect no difference in
her.  Certainly, she seemed to bear Ellen no grudge.  It was
stormy, so no mention was made of going to church.  In the
afternoon Rosemary shut herself in her room and wrote a note to
John Meredith.  She could not trust herself to say "no" in
person.  She felt quite sure that if he suspected she was
saying "no" reluctantly he would not take it for an answer, and
she could not face pleading or entreaty.  She must make him think
she cared nothing at all for him and she could do that only by
letter.  She wrote him the stiffest, coolest little refusal
imaginable.  It was barely courteous; it certainly left no
loophole of hope for the boldest lover--and John Meredith was
anything but that.  He shrank into himself, hurt and mortified,
when he read Rosemary's letter next day in his dusty study.  But
under his mortification a dreadful realization presently made
itself felt.  He had thought he did not love Rosemary as deeply
as he had loved Cecilia.  Now, when he had lost her, he knew that
he did.  She was everything to him--everything!  And he must put
her out of his life completely.  Even friendship was impossible
now.  Life stretched before him in intolerable dreariness.  He
must go on--there was his work--his children--but the heart had
gone out of him.  He sat alone all that evening in his dark,
cold, comfortless study with his head bowed on his hands.  Up on
the hill Rosemary had a headache and went early to bed, while
Ellen remarked to St. George, purring his disdain of foolish
humankind, who did not know that a soft cushion was the only
thing that really mattered,

"What would women do if headaches had never been invented, St.
George?  But never mind, Saint.  We'll just wink the other eye
for a few weeks.  I admit I don't feel comfortable myself,
George.   I feel as if I had drowned a kitten.  But she promised,
Saint--and she was the one to offer it, George.  Bismillah!"



CHAPTER XXIII. THE GOOD-CONDUCT CLUB

A light rain had been falling all day--a little, delicate,
beautiful spring rain, that somehow seemed to hint and whisper of
mayflowers and wakening violets.  The harbour and the gulf and
the low-lying shore fields had been dim with pearl-gray mists.
But now in the evening the rain had ceased and the mists had
blown out to sea.  Clouds sprinkled the sky over the harbour like
little fiery roses.  Beyond it the hills were dark against a
spendthrift splendour of daffodil and crimson.  A great silvery
evening star was watching over the bar.  A brisk, dancing,
new-sprung wind was blowing up from Rainbow Valley, resinous with
the odours of fir and damp mosses.  It crooned in the old spruces
around the graveyard and ruffled Faith's splendid curls as she
sat on Hezekiah Pollock's tombstone with her arms round Mary
Vance and Una.  Carl and Jerry were sitting opposite them on
another tombstone and all were rather full of mischief after
being cooped up all day.

"The air just SHINES to-night, doesn't it?  It's been washed so
clean, you see," said Faith happily.

Mary Vance eyed her gloomily.  Knowing what she knew, or fancied
she knew, Mary considered that Faith was far too light-hearted.
Mary had something on her mind to say and she meant to say it
before she went home.  Mrs. Elliott had sent her up to the manse
with some new-laid eggs, and had told her not to stay longer than
half an hour.  The half hour was nearly up, so Mary uncurled her
cramped legs from under her and said abruptly,

"Never mind about the air.  Just you listen to me.  You manse
young ones have just got to behave yourselves better than you've
been doing this spring--that's all there is to it.  I just come
up to-night a-purpose to tell you so.  The way people are talking
about you is awful."

"What have we been doing now?" cried Faith in amazement, pulling
her arm away from Mary.  Una's lips trembled and her sensitive
little soul shrank within her.  Mary was always so brutally
frank.  Jerry began to whistle out of bravado.  He meant to let
Mary see he didn't care for HER tirades.  Their behaviour was no
business of HERS anyway.  What right had SHE to lecture them on
their conduct?

"Doing now!  You're doing ALL the time," retorted Mary.  "Just as
soon as the talk about one of your didos fades away you do
something else to start it up again.  It seems to me you haven't
any idea of how manse children ought to behave!"

"Maybe YOU can tell us," said Jerry, killingly sarcastic.

Sarcasm was quite thrown away on Mary.

"_I_ can tell you what will happen if you don't learn to behave
yourselves.  The session will ask your father to resign.  There
now, Master Jerry-know-it-all.  Mrs. Alec Davis said so to Mrs.
Elliott.  I heard her.  I always have my ears pricked up when
Mrs. Alec Davis comes to tea.  She said you were all going from
bad to worse and that though it was only what was to be expected
when you had nobody to bring you up, still the congregation
couldn't be expected to put up with it much longer, and something
would have to be done.  The Methodists just laugh and laugh at
you, and that hurts the Presbyterian feelings.  SHE says you all
need a good dose of birch tonic.  Lor', if that would make folks
good _I_ oughter be a young saint.  I'm not telling you this
because I want to hurt YOUR feelings.  I'm sorry for you"--Mary
was past mistress of the gentle art of condescension."  _I_
understand that you haven't much chance, the way things are.  But
other people don't make as much allowance as _I_ do.  Miss Drew
says Carl had a frog in his pocket in Sunday School last Sunday
and it hopped out while she was hearing the lesson.  She says
she's going to give up the class.  Why don't you keep your
insecks home?"

"I popped it right back in again," said Carl.  "It didn't hurt
anybody--a poor little frog!  And I wish old Jane Drew WOULD give
up our class.  I hate her.  Her own nephew had a dirty plug of
tobacco in his pocket and offered us fellows a chew when Elder
Clow was praying.  I guess that's worse than a frog."

"No, 'cause frogs are more unexpected-like.  They make more of a
sensation.  'Sides, he wasn't caught at it.  And then that
praying competition you had last week has made a fearful scandal.
Everybody is talking about it."

"Why, the Blythes were in that as well as us," cried Faith,
indignantly.  "It was Nan Blythe who suggested it in the first
place.  And Walter took the prize."

"Well, you get the credit of it any way.  It wouldn't have been
so bad if you hadn't had it in the graveyard."

"I should think a graveyard was a very good place to pray in,"
retorted Jerry.

"Deacon Hazard drove past when YOU were praying," said Mary, "and
he saw and heard you, with your hands folded over your stomach,
and groaning after every sentence.  He thought you were making
fun of HIM."

"So I was," declared unabashed Jerry.  "Only I didn't know he was
going by, of course.  That was just a mean accident.  _I_ wasn't
praying in real earnest--I knew I had no chance of winning the
prize.  So I was just getting what fun I could out of it.  Walter
Blythe can pray bully.  Why, he can pray as well as dad."

"Una is the only one of US who really likes praying," said Faith
pensively.

"Well, if praying scandalizes people so much we mustn't do it any
more," sighed Una.

"Shucks, you can pray all you want to, only not in the
graveyard--and don't make a game of it.  That was what made it so
bad--that, and having a tea-party on the tombstones."

"We hadn't."

"Well, a soap-bubble party then.  You had SOMETHING.  The
over-harbour people swear you had a tea-party, but I'm willing to
take your word.  And you used this tombstone as a table."

"Well, Martha wouldn't let us blow bubbles in the house.  She was
awful cross that day," explained Jerry.  "And this old slab made
such a jolly table."

"Weren't they pretty?" cried Faith, her eyes sparkling over the
remembrance.  "They reflected the trees and the hills and the
harbour like little fairy worlds, and when we shook them loose
they floated away down to Rainbow Valley."

"All but one and it went over and bust up on the Methodist
spire," said Carl.

"I'm glad we did it once, anyhow, before we found out it was
wrong," said Faith.

"It wouldn't have been wrong to blow them on the lawn," said Mary
impatiently.  "Seems like I can't knock any sense into your
heads.  You've been told often enough you shouldn't play in the
graveyard.  The Methodists are sensitive about it."

"We forget," said Faith dolefully.  "And the lawn is so
small--and so caterpillary--and so full of shrubs and things.  We
can't be in Rainbow Valley all the time--and where are we to go?"

"It's the things you DO in the graveyard.  It wouldn't matter if
you just sat here and talked quiet, same as we're doing now.
Well, I don't know what is going to come of it all, but I DO know
that Elder Warren is going to speak to your pa about it.  Deacon
Hazard is his cousin."

"I wish they wouldn't bother father about us," said Una.

"Well, people think he ought to bother himself about you a little
more.  _I_ don't--_I_ understand him.  He's a child in some ways
himself--that's what he is, and needs some one to look after him
as bad as you do.  Well, perhaps he'll have some one before long,
if all tales is true."

"What do you mean?" asked Faith.

"Haven't you got any idea--honest?" demanded Mary.

"No, no.  What DO you mean?"

"Well, you are a lot of innocents, upon my word.  Why, EVERYbody
is talking of it.  Your pa goes to see Rosemary West.  SHE is
going to be your step-ma."

"I don't believe it," cried Una, flushing crimson.

"Well, _I_ dunno.  I just go by what folks say.  _I_ don't give
it for a fact.  But it would be a good thing.  Rosemary West'd
make you toe the mark if she came here, I'll bet a cent, for all
she's so sweet and smiley on the face of her.  They're always
that way till they've caught them.  But you need some one to
bring you up.  You're disgracing your pa and I feel for him.
I've always thought an awful lot of your pa ever since that night
he talked to me so nice.  I've never said a single swear word
since, or told a lie.  And I'd like to see him happy and
comfortable, with his buttons on and his meals decent, and you
young ones licked into shape, and that old cat of a Martha put in
HER proper place.  The way she looked at the eggs I brought her
to-night.  'I hope they're fresh,' says she.  I just wished they
WAS rotten.  But you just mind that she gives you all one for
breakfast, including your pa.  Make a fuss if she doesn't.  That
was what they was sent up for--but I don't trust old Martha.
She's quite capable of feeding 'em to her cat."

Mary's tongue being temporarily tired, a brief silence fell over
the graveyard.  The manse children did not feel like talking.
They were digesting the new and not altogether palatable ideas
Mary had suggested to them.  Jerry and Carl were somewhat
startled.  But, after all, what did it matter?  And it wasn't
likely there was a word of truth in it.  Faith, on the whole, was
pleased.  Only Una was seriously upset.  She felt that she would
like to get away and cry.

"Will there be any stars in my crown?" sang the Methodist choir,
beginning to practise in the Methodist church.

"_I_ want just three," said Mary, whose theological knowledge had
increased notably since her residence with Mrs. Elliott.  "Just
three--setting up on my head, like a corownet, a big one in the
middle and a small one each side."

"Are there different sizes in souls?" asked Carl.

"Of course.  Why, little babies must have smaller ones than big
men.  Well, it's getting dark and I must scoot home.  Mrs.
Elliott doesn't like me to be out after dark.  Laws, when I lived
with Mrs. Wiley the dark was just the same as the daylight to me.
I didn't mind it no more'n a gray cat.  Them days seem a hundred
years ago.  Now, you mind what I've said and try to behave
yourselves, for you pa's sake.  I'LL always back you up and
defend you--you can be dead sure of that.  Mrs. Elliott says she
never saw the like of me for sticking up for my friends.  I was
real sassy to Mrs. Alec Davis about you and Mrs. Elliott combed
me down for it afterwards.  The fair Cornelia has a tongue of her
own and no mistake.  But she was pleased underneath for all,
'cause she hates old Kitty Alec and she's real fond of you.  _I_
can see through folks."

Mary sailed off, excellently well pleased with herself, leaving a
rather depressed little group behind her.

"Mary Vance always says something that makes us feel bad when she
comes up," said Una resentfully.

"I wish we'd left her to starve in the old barn," said Jerry
vindictively.

"Oh, that's wicked, Jerry," rebuked Una.

"May as well have the game as the name," retorted unrepentant
Jerry.  "If people say we're so bad let's BE bad."

"But not if it hurts father," pleaded Faith.

Jerry squirmed uncomfortably.  He adored his father.  Through the
unshaded study window they could see Mr. Meredith at his desk.
He did not seem to be either reading or writing.  His head was in
his hands and there was something in his whole attitude that
spoke of weariness and dejection.  The children suddenly felt it.

"I dare say somebody's been worrying him about us to-day," said
Faith.  "I wish we COULD get along without making people talk.
Oh--Jem Blythe!  How you scared me!"

Jem Blythe had slipped into the graveyard and sat down beside the
girls. He had been prowling about Rainbow Valley and had
succeeded in finding the first little star-white cluster of
arbutus for his mother.  The manse children were rather silent
after his coming.  Jem was beginning to grow away from them
somewhat this spring.  He was studying for the entrance
examination of Queen's Academy and stayed after school with the
older pupils for extra lessons.  Also, his evenings were so full
of work that he seldom joined the others in Rainbow Valley now.
He seemed to be drifting away into grown-up land.

"What is the matter with you all to-night?" he asked.  "There's
no fun in you."

"Not much," agreed Faith dolefully.  "There wouldn't be much fun
in you either if YOU knew you were disgracing your father and
making people talk about you."

"Who's been talking about you now?"

"Everybody--so Mary Vance says."  And Faith poured out her
troubles to sympathetic Jem.  "You see," she concluded dolefully,
"we've nobody to bring us up.  And so we get into scrapes and
people think we're bad."

"Why don't you bring yourselves up?" suggested Jem.  "I'll tell
you what to do.  Form a Good-Conduct Club and punish yourselves
every time you do anything that's not right."

"That's a good idea," said Faith, struck by it.  "But," she
added doubtfully, "things that don't seem a bit of harm to US
seem simply dreadful to other people.  How can we tell?  We can't
be bothering father all the time--and he has to be away a lot,
anyhow."

"You could mostly tell if you stopped to think a thing over
before doing it and ask yourselves what the congregation would
say about it," said Jem.  "The trouble is you just rush into
things and don't think them over at all.  Mother says you're all
too impulsive, just as she used to be.  The Good-Conduct Club
would help you to think, if you were fair and honest about
punishing yourselves when you broke the rules.  You'd have to
punish in some way that really HURT, or it wouldn't do any good."

"Whip each other?"

"Not exactly.  You'd have to think up different ways of
punishment to suit the person.  You wouldn't punish each
other--you'd punish YOURSELVES.  I read all about such a club in
a story-book.  You try it and see how it works."

"Let's," said Faith; and when Jem was gone they agreed they
would.  "If things aren't right we've just got to make them
right," said Faith, resolutely.

"We've got to be fair and square, as Jem says," said Jerry.
"This is a club to bring ourselves up, seeing there's nobody else
to do it.  There's no use in having many rules.  Let's just have
one and any of us that breaks it has got to be punished hard."

"But HOW."

"We'll think that up as we go along.  We'll hold a session of the
club here in the graveyard every night and talk over what we've
done through the day, and if we think we've done anything that
isn't right or that would disgrace dad the one that does it, or
is responsible for it, must be punished.  That's the rule.  We'll
all decide on the kind of punishment--it must be made to fit the
crime, as Mr. Flagg says.  And the one that's, guilty will be
bound to carry it out and no shirking.  There's going to be fun
in this," concluded Jerry, with a relish.

"You suggested the soap-bubble party," said Faith.

"But that was before we'd formed the club," said Jerry hastily.
"Everything starts from to-night."

"But what if we can't agree on what's right, or what the
punishment ought to be?  S'pose two of us thought of one thing
and two another.  There ought to be five in a club like this."

"We can ask Jem Blythe to be umpire.  He is the squarest boy in
Glen St. Mary.  But I guess we can settle our own affairs
mostly.  We want to keep this as much of a secret as we can.
Don't breathe a word to Mary Vance.  She'd want to join and do
the bringing up."

"_I_ think," said Faith, "that there's no use in spoiling every
day by dragging punishments in.  Let's have a punishment day."

"We'd better choose Saturday because there is no school to
interfere," suggested Una.

"And spoil the one holiday in the week," cried Faith.  "Not much!
No, let's take Friday.  That's fish day, anyhow, and we all hate
fish.  We may as well have all the disagreeable things in one
day.  Then other days we can go ahead and have a good time."

"Nonsense," said Jerry authoritatively.  "Such a scheme wouldn't
work at all.  We'll just punish ourselves as we go along and keep
a clear slate.  Now, we all understand, don't we?  This is a
Good-Conduct Club, for the purpose of bringing ourselves up.  We
agree to punish ourselves for bad conduct, and always to stop
before we do anything, no matter what, and ask ourselves if it is
likely to hurt dad in any way, and any one who shirks is to be
cast out of the club and never allowed to play with the rest of
us in Rainbow Valley again.  Jem Blythe to be umpire in case of
disputes.  No more taking bugs to Sunday School, Carl, and no
more chewing gum in public, if you please, Miss Faith."

"No more making fun of elders praying or going to the Methodist
prayer meeting," retorted Faith.

"Why, it isn't any harm to go to the Methodist prayer meeting,"
protested Jerry in amazement.

"Mrs. Elliott says it is, She says manse children have no
business to go anywhere but to Presbyterian things."

"Darn it, I won't give up going to the Methodist prayer meeting,"
cried Jerry.  "It's ten times more fun than ours is."

"You said a naughty word," cried Faith.  "NOW, you've got to
punish yourself."

"Not till it's all down in black and white.  We're only talking
the club over.  It isn't really formed until we've written it out
and signed it.  There's got to be a constitution and by-laws.
And you KNOW there's nothing wrong in going to a prayer meeting."

"But it's not only the wrong things we're to punish ourselves
for, but anything that might hurt father."

"It won't hurt anybody.  You know Mrs. Elliott is cracked on the
subject of Methodists.  Nobody else makes any fuss about my
going.  I always behave myself.  You ask Jem or Mrs. Blythe and
see what they say.  I'll abide by their opinion.  I'm going for
the paper now and I'll bring out the lantern and we'll all sign."

Fifteen minutes later the document was solemnly signed on
Hezekiah Pollock's tombstone, on the centre of which stood the
smoky manse lantern, while the children knelt around it.  Mrs.
Elder Clow was going past at the moment and next day all the Glen
heard that the manse children had been having another praying
competition and had wound it up by chasing each other all over
the graves with a lantern.  This piece of embroidery was probably
suggested by the fact that, after the signing and sealing was
completed, Carl had taken the lantern and had walked
circumspectly to the little hollow to examine his ant-hill.  The
others had gone quietly into the manse and to bed.

"Do you think it is true that father is going to marry Miss
West?"  Una had tremulously asked of Faith, after their prayers
had been said.

"I don't know, but I'd like it," said Faith.

"Oh, I wouldn't," said Una, chokingly.  "She is nice the way she
is.  But Mary Vance says it changes people ALTOGETHER to be made
stepmothers.  They get horrid cross and mean and hateful then,
and turn your father against you.  She says they're sure to do
that.  She never knew it to fail in a single case."

"I don't believe Miss West would EVER try to do that," cried
Faith.

"Mary says ANYBODY would.  She knows ALL about stepmothers,
Faith--she says she's seen hundreds of them--and you've never
seen one.  Oh, Mary has told me blood-curdling things about them.
She says she knew of one who whipped her husband's little girls
on their bare shoulders till they bled, and then shut them up in
a cold, dark coal cellar all night.  She says they're ALL aching
to do things like that."

"I don't believe Miss West would.  You don't know her as well as
I do, Una.  Just think of that sweet little bird she sent me.  I
love it far more even than Adam."

"It's just being a stepmother changes them.  Mary says they can't
help it.  I wouldn't mind the whippings so much as having father
hate us."

"You know nothing could make father hate us.  Don't be silly,
Una.  I dare say there's nothing to worry over.  Likely if we run
our club right and bring ourselves up properly father won't think
of marrying any one.  And if he does, I KNOW Miss West will be
lovely to us."

But Una had no such conviction and she cried herself to sleep.



CHAPTER XXIV. A CHARITABLE IMPULSE

For a fortnight things ran smoothly in the Good-Conduct Club.  It
seemed to work admirably.  Not once was Jem Blythe called in as
umpire.  Not once did any of the manse children set the Glen
gossips by the ears.  As for their minor peccadilloes at home,
they kept sharp tabs on each other and gamely underwent their
self-imposed punishment--generally a voluntary absence from some
gay Friday night frolic in Rainbow Valley, or a sojourn in bed on
some spring evening when all young bones ached to be out and
away.  Faith, for whispering in Sunday School, condemned herself
to pass a whole day without speaking a single word, unless it was
absolutely necessary, and accomplished it.  It was rather
unfortunate that Mr. Baker from over-harbour should have chosen
that evening for calling at the manse, and that Faith should have
happened to go to the door.  Not one word did she reply to his
genial greeting, but went silently away to call her father
briefly.  Mr. Baker was slightly offended and told his wife when
he went home that that the biggest Meredith girl seemed a very
shy, sulky little thing, without manners enough to speak when she
was spoken to.  But nothing worse came of it, and generally their
penances did no harm to themselves or anybody else.  All of them
were beginning to feel quite cocksure that after all, it was a
very easy matter to bring yourself up.

"I guess people will soon see that we can behave ourselves
properly as well as anybody," said Faith jubilantly.  "It isn't
hard when we put our minds to it."

She and Una were sitting on the Pollock tombstone.  It had been a
cold, raw, wet day of spring storm and Rainbow Valley was out of
the question for girls, though the manse and the Ingleside boys
were down there fishing.  The rain had held up, but the east wind
blew mercilessly in from the sea, cutting to bone and marrow.
Spring was late in spite of its early promise, and there was even
yet a hard drift of old snow and ice in the northern corner of
the graveyard.  Lida Marsh, who had come up to bring the manse a
mess of herring, slipped in through the gate shivering.  She
belonged to the fishing village at the harbour mouth and her
father had, for thirty years, made a practice of sending a mess
from his first spring catch to the manse.  He never darkened a
church door; he was a hard drinker and a reckless man, but as
long as he sent those herring up to the manse every spring, as
his father had done before him, he felt comfortably sure that his
account with the Powers That Govern was squared for the year.  He
would not have expected a good mackerel catch if he had not so
sent the first fruits of the season.

Lida was a mite of ten and looked younger, because she was such a
small, wizened little creature.  To-night, as she sidled boldly
enough up to the manse girls, she looked as if she had never been
warm since she was born.  Her face was purple and her pale-blue,
bold little eyes were red and watery.  She wore a tattered print
dress and a ragged woollen comforter, tied across her thin
shoulders and under her arms.  She had walked the three miles
from the harbour mouth barefooted, over a road where there was
still snow and slush and mud.  Her feet and legs were as purple
as her face.  But Lida did not mind this much.  She was used to
being cold, and she had been going barefooted for a month
already, like all the other swarming young fry of the fishing
village.  There was no self-pity in her heart as she sat down on
the tombstone and grinned cheerfully at Faith and Una.  Faith and
Una grinned cheerfully back.  They knew Lida slightly, having met
her once or twice the preceding summer when they had gone down
the harbour with the Blythes.

"Hello!" said Lida, "ain't this a fierce kind of a night?
"T'ain't fit for a dog to be out, is it?"

"Then why are you out?" asked Faith.

"Pa made me bring you up some herring," returned Lida.  She
shivered, coughed, and stuck out her bare feet.  Lida was not
thinking about herself or her feet, and was making no bid for
sympathy.  She held her feet out instinctively to keep them from
the wet grass around the tombstone.  But Faith and Una were
instantly swamped with a wave of pity for her.  She looked so
cold--so miserable.

"Oh, why are you barefooted on such a cold night?" cried Faith.
"Your feet must be almost frozen."

"Pretty near," said Lida proudly.  "I tell you it was fierce
walking up that harbour road."

"Why didn't you put on your shoes and stockings?" asked Una.

"Hain't none to put on.  All I had was wore out by the time
winter was over," said Lida indifferently.

For a moment Faith stated in horror.  This was terrible.  Here
was a little girl, almost a neighbour, half frozen because she
had no shoes or stockings in this cruel spring weather.
Impulsive Faith thought of nothing but the dreadfulness of it.
In a moment she was pulling off her own shoes and stockings.

"Here, take these and put them right on," she said, forcing them
into the hands of the astonished Lida.  "Quick now.  You'll catch
your death of cold.  I've got others.  Put them right on."

Lida, recovering her wits, snatched at the offered gift, with a
sparkle in her dull eyes.  Sure she would put them on, and that
mighty quick, before any one appeared with authority to recall
them.  In a minute she had pulled the stockings over her scrawny
little legs and slipped Faith's shoes over her thick little
ankles.

"I'm obliged to you," she said, "but won't your folks be cross?"

"No--and I don't care if they are," said Faith.  "Do you think I
could see any one freezing to death without helping them if I
could?  It wouldn't be right, especially when my father's a
minister."

"Will you want them back?  It's awful cold down at the harbour
mouth--long after it's warm up here," said Lida slyly.

"No, you're to keep them, of course.  That is what I meant when I
gave them.  I have another pair of shoes and plenty of
stockings."

Lida had meant to stay awhile and talk to the girls about many
things.  But now she thought she had better get away before
somebody came and made her yield up her booty.  So she shuffled
off through the bitter twilight, in the noiseless, shadowy way
she had slipped in.  As soon as she was out of sight of the manse
she sat down, took off the shoes and stockings, and put them in
her herring basket.  She had no intention of keeping them on down
that dirty harbour road.  They were to be kept good for gala
occasions.  Not another little girl down at the harbour mouth had
such fine black cashmere stockings and such smart, almost new
shoes.  Lida was furnished forth for the summer.  She had no
qualms in the matter.  In her eyes the manse people were quite
fabulously rich, and no doubt those girls had slathers of shoes
and stockings.  Then Lida ran down to the Glen village and played
for an hour with the boys before Mr. Flagg's store, splashing
about in a pool of slush with the maddest of them, until Mrs.
Elliott came along and bade her begone home.

"I don't think, Faith, that you should have done that," said Una,
a little reproachfully, after Lida had gone.  "You'll have to
wear your good boots every day now and they'll soon scuff out."

"I don't care," cried Faith, still in the fine glow of having
done a kindness to a fellow creature.  "It isn't fair that I
should have two pairs of shoes and poor little Lida Marsh not
have any.  NOW we both have a pair.  You know perfectly well,
Una, that father said in his sermon last Sunday that there was no
real happiness in getting or having--only in giving.  And it's
true.  I feel FAR happier now than I ever did in my whole life
before.  Just think of Lida walking home this very minute with
her poor little feet all nice and warm and comfy."

"You know you haven't another pair of black cashmere stockings,"
said Una.  "Your other pair were so full of holes that Aunt
Martha said she couldn't darn them any more and she cut the legs
up for stove dusters.  You've nothing but those two pairs of
striped stockings you hate so."

All the glow and uplift went out of Faith.  Her gladness
collapsed like a pricked balloon.  She sat for a few dismal
minutes in silence, facing the consequences of her rash act.

"Oh, Una, I never thought of that," she said dolefully.  "I
didn't stop to think at all."

The striped stockings were thick, heavy, coarse, ribbed stockings
of blue and red which Aunt Martha had knit for Faith in the
winter.  They were undoubtedly hideous.  Faith loathed them as
she had never loathed anything before.  Wear them she certainly
would not.  They were still unworn in her bureau drawer.

"You'll have to wear the striped stockings after this," said Una.
"Just think how the boys in school will laugh at you.  You know
how they laugh at Mamie Warren for her striped stockings and call
her barber pole and yours are far worse."

"I won't wear them," said Faith.  "I'll go barefooted first, cold
as it is."

"You can't go barefooted to church to-morrow.  Think what people
would say."

"Then I'll stay home."

"You can't.  You know very well Aunt Martha will make you go."

Faith did know this.  The one thing on which Aunt Martha troubled
herself to insist was that they must all go to church, rain or
shine.  How they were dressed, or if they were dressed at all,
never concerned her.  But go they must.  That was how Aunt Martha
had been brought up seventy years ago, and that was how she meant
to bring them up.

"Haven't you got a pair you can lend me, Una?" said poor Faith
piteously.

Una shook her head.  "No, you know I only have the one black
pair.  And they're so tight I can hardly get them on.  They
wouldn't go on you.  Neither would my gray ones.  Besides, the
legs of THEM are all darned AND darned."

"I won't wear those striped stockings," said Faith stubbornly.
"The feel of them is even worse than the looks.  They make me
feel as if my legs were as big as barrels and they're so
SCRATCHY."

"Well, I don't know what you're going to do."

"If father was home I'd go and ask him to get me a new pair
before the store closes.  But he won't be home till too late.
I'll ask him Monday--and I won't go to church tomorrow.  I'll
pretend I'm sick and Aunt Martha'll HAVE to let me stay home."

"That would be acting a lie, Faith," cried Una.  "You CAN'T do
that.  You know it would be dreadful.  What would father say if
he knew?  Don't you remember how he talked to us after mother
died and told us we must always be TRUE, no matter what else we
failed in.  He said we must never tell or act a lie--he said he'd
TRUST us not to.  You CAN'T do it, Faith.  Just wear the striped
stockings.  It'll only be for once.  Nobody will notice them in
church.  It isn't like school.  And your new brown dress is so
long they won't show much.  Wasn't it lucky Aunt Martha made it
big, so you'd have room to grow in it, for all you hated it so
when she finished it?"

"I won't wear those stockings," repeated Faith.  She uncoiled her
bare, white legs from the tombstone and deliberately walked
through the wet, cold grass to the bank of snow.  Setting her
teeth, she stepped upon it and stood there.

"What are you doing?" cried Una aghast.  "You'll catch your death
of cold, Faith Meredith."

"I'm trying to," answered Faith.  "I hope I'll catch a fearful
cold and be AWFUL sick to-morrow.  Then I won't be acting a lie.
I'm going to stand here as long as I can bear it."

"But, Faith, you might really die.  You might get pneumonia.
Please, Faith don't.  Let's go into the house and get SOMETHING
for your feet.  Oh, here's Jerry.  I'm so thankful.  Jerry, MAKE
Faith get off that snow.  Look at her feet."

"Holy cats! Faith, what ARE you doing?" demanded Jerry.  "Are you
crazy?"

"No.  Go away!" snapped Faith.

"Then are you punishing yourself for something?  It isn't right,
if you are.  You'll be sick."

"I want to be sick.  I'm not punishing myself.  Go away."

"Where's her shoes and stockings?" asked Jerry of Una.

"She gave them to Lida Marsh."

"Lida Marsh?  What for?"

"Because Lida had none--and her feet were so cold.  And now she
wants to be sick so that she won't have to go to church to-morrow
and wear her striped stockings.  But, Jerry, she may die."

"Faith," said Jerry, "get off that ice-bank or I'll pull you
off."

"Pull away," dared Faith.

Jerry sprang at her and caught her arms.  He pulled one way and
Faith pulled another.  Una ran behind Faith and pushed.  Faith
stormed at Jerry to leave her alone.  Jerry stormed back at her
not to be a dizzy idiot; and Una cried.  They made no end of
noise and they were close to the road fence of the graveyard.
Henry Warren and his wife drove by and heard and saw them.  Very
soon the Glen heard that the manse children had been having an
awful fight in the graveyard and using most improper language.
Meanwhile, Faith had allowed herself to be pulled off the ice
because her feet were aching so sharply that she was ready to get
off any way.  They all went in amiably and went to bed.  Faith
slept like a cherub and woke in the morning without a trace of a
cold.  She felt that she couldn't feign sickness and act a lie,
after remembering that long-ago talk with her father.  But she
was still as fully determined as ever that she would not wear
those abominable stockings to church.



CHAPTER XXV. ANOTHER SCANDAL AND ANOTHER "EXPLANATION"

Faith went early to Sunday School and was seated in the corner of
her class pew before any one came.  Therefore, the dreadful truth
did not burst upon any one until Faith left the class pew near
the door to walk up to the manse pew after Sunday School.  The
church was already half filled and all who were sitting near the
aisle saw that the minister's daughter had boots on but no
stockings!

Faith's new brown dress, which Aunt Martha had made from an
ancient pattern, was absurdly long for her, but even so it did
not meet her boot-tops.  Two good inches of bare white leg showed
plainly.

Faith and Carl sat alone in the manse pew.  Jerry had gone into
the gallery to sit with a chum and the Blythe girls had taken Una
with them.  The Meredith children were given to "sitting all over
the church" in this fashion and a great many people thought it
very improper.  The gallery especially, where irresponsible lads
congregated and were known to whisper and suspected of chewing
tobacco during service, was no place, for a son of the manse.
But Jerry hated the manse pew at the very top of the church,
under the eyes of Elder Clow and his family.  He escaped from it
whenever he could.

Carl, absorbed in watching a spider spinning its web at the
window, did not notice Faith's legs.  She walked home with her
father after church and he never noticed them.  She got on the
hated striped stockings before Jerry and Una arrived, so that for
the time being none of the occupants of the manse knew what she
had done.  But nobody else in Glen St. Mary was ignorant of it.
The few who had not seen soon heard.  Nothing else was talked of
on the way home from church.  Mrs. Alec Davis said it was only
what she expected, and the next thing you would see some of those
young ones coming to church with no clothes on at all.  The
president of the Ladies' Aid decided that she would bring the
matter up at the next Aid meeting, and suggest that they wait in
a body on the minister and protest.  Miss Cornelia said that she,
for her part, gave up.  There was no use worrying over the manse
fry any longer.  Even Mrs. Dr. Blythe felt a little shocked,
though she attributed the occurrence solely to Faith's
forgetfulness.  Susan could not immediately begin knitting
stockings for Faith because it was Sunday, but she had one set up
before any one else was out of bed at Ingleside the next morning.

"You need not tell me anything but that it was old Martha's
fault, Mrs. Dr. dear." she told Anne.  "I suppose that poor
little child had no decent stockings to wear.  I suppose every
stocking she had was in holes, as you know very well they
generally are.  And _I_ think, Mrs. Dr. dear, that the Ladies'
Aid would be better employed in knitting some for them than in
fighting over the new carpet for the pulpit platform.  _I_ am not
a Ladies' Aider, but I shall knit Faith two pairs of stockings,
out of this nice black yarn, as fast as my fingers can move and
that you may tie to.  Never shall I forget my sensations, Mrs.
Dr. dear, when I saw a minister's child walking up the aisle of
our church with no stockings on.  I really did not know what way
to look."

"And the church was just full of Methodists yesterday, too,"
groaned Miss Cornelia, who had come up to the Glen to do some
shopping and run into Ingleside to talk the affair over.  "I
don't know how it is, but just as sure as those manse children do
something especially awful the church is sure to be crowded with
Methodists.  I thought Mrs. Deacon Hazard's eyes would drop out
of her head.  When she came out of church she said, 'Well, that
exhibition was no more than decent.  I do pity the
Presbyterians.'  And we just had to TAKE it.  There was nothing
one could say."

"There was something _I_ could have said, Mrs. Dr. dear, if I had
heard her," said Susan grimly.  "I would have said, for one
thing, that in my opinion clean bare legs were quite as decent as
holes.  And I would have said, for another, that the
Presbyterians did not feel greatly in need of pity seeing that
they had a minister who could PREACH and the Methodists had NOT.
I could have squelched Mrs. Deacon Hazard, Mrs. Dr dear, and that
you may tie to."

"I wish Mr. Meredith didn't preach quite so well and looked after
his family a little better," retorted Miss Cornelia.  "He could
at least glance over his children before they went to church and
see that they were quite properly clothed.  I'm tired making
excuses for him, believe ME."

Meanwhile, Faith's soul was being harrowed up in Rainbow Valley.
Mary Vance was there and, as usual, in a lecturing mood.  She
gave Faith to understand that she had disgraced herself and her
father beyond redemption and that she, Mary Vance, was done with
her.  "Everybody" was talking, and "everybody" said the same
thing.

"I simply feel that I can't associate with you any longer," she
concluded.

"WE are going to associate with her then," cried Nan Blythe.  Nan
secretly thought Faith HAD done a awful thing, but she wasn't
going to let Mary Vance run matters in this high-handed fashion.
"And if YOU are not you needn't come any more to Rainbow Valley,
MISS Vance."

Nan and Di both put their arms around Faith and glared defiance
at Mary.  The latter suddenly crumpled up, sat down on a stump
and began to cry.

"It ain't that I don't want to," she wailed.  "But if I keep in
with Faith people'll be saying I put her up to doing things.
Some are saying it now, true's you live.  I can't afford to have
such things said of me, now that I'm in a respectable place and
trying to be a lady.  And _I_ never went bare-legged in church in
my toughest days.  I'd never have thought of doing such a thing.
But that hateful old Kitty Alec says Faith has never been the
same girl since that time I stayed in the manse.  She says
Cornelia Elliott will live to rue the day she took me in.  It
hurts my feelings, I tell you.  But it's Mr. Meredith I'm really
worried over."

"I think you needn't worry about him," said Di scornfully.  "It
isn't likely necessary.  Now, Faith darling, stop crying and tell
us why you did it."

Faith explained tearfully.  The Blythe girls sympathized with
her, and even Mary Vance agreed that it was a hard position to be
in.  But Jerry, on whom the thing came like a thunderbolt,
refused to be placated.  So THIS was what some mysterious hints
he had got in school that day meant!  He marched Faith and Una
home without ceremony, and the Good-Conduct Club held an
immediate session in the graveyard to sit in judgment on Faith's
case.

"I don't see that it was any harm," said Faith defiantly.  "Not
MUCH of my legs showed.  It wasn't WRONG and it didn't hurt
anybody."

"It will hurt Dad.  You KNOW it will.  You know people blame him
whenever we do anything queer."

"I didn't think of that," muttered Faith.

"That's just the trouble.  You didn't think and you SHOULD have
thought.  That's what our Club is for--to bring us up and MAKE us
think.  We promised we'd always stop and think before doing
things.  You didn't and you've got to be punished, Faith--and
real hard, too.  You'll wear those striped stockings to school
for a week for punishment."

"Oh, Jerry, won't a day do--two days?  Not a whole week!"

"Yes, a whole week," said inexorable Jerry.  "It is fair--ask Jem
Blythe if it isn't."

Faith felt she would rather submit then ask Jem Blythe about such
a matter.  She was beginning to realize that her offence was a
quite shameful one.

"I'll do it, then," she muttered, a little sulkily.

"You're getting off easy," said, Jerry severely.  "And no matter
how we punish you it won't help father. People will always think
you just did it for mischief, and they'll blame father for not
stopping it.  We can never explain it to everybody."

This aspect of the case weighed on Faith's mind.  Her own
condemnation she could bear, but it tortured her that her father
should be blamed. If people knew the true facts of the case they
would not blame him.  But how could she make them known to all
the world?  Getting up in church, as she had once done, and
explaining the matter was out of the question.  Faith had heard
from Mary Vance how the congregation had looked upon that
performance and realized that she must not repeat it.  Faith
worried over the problem for half a week.  Then she had an
inspiration and promptly acted upon it.  She spent that evening
in the garret, with a lamp and an exercise book, writing busily,
with flushed cheeks and shining eyes.  It was the very thing!
How clever she was to have thought of it!  It would put
everything right and explain everything and yet cause no scandal.
It was eleven o'clock when she had finished to her satisfaction
and crept down to bed, dreadfully tired, but perfectly happy.

In a few days the little weekly published in the Glen under the
name of _The Journal_ came out as usual, and the Glen had another
sensation.  A letter signed "Faith Meredith" occupied a prominent
place on the front page and ran as follows:--

"TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

I want to explain to everybody how it was I came to go to church
without stockings on, so that everybody will know that father was
not to blame one bit for it, and the old gossips need not say he
is, because it is not true.  I gave my only pair of black
stockings to Lida Marsh, because she hadn't any and her poor
little feet were awful cold and I was so sorry for her.  No child
ought to have to go without shoes and stockings in a Christian
community before the snow is all gone, and I think the W. F. M.
S. ought to have given her stockings.  Of course, I know they are
sending things to the little heathen children, and that is all
right and a kind thing to do.  But the little heathen children
have lots more warm weather than we have, and I think the women
of our church ought to look after Lida and not leave it all to
me.  When I gave her my stockings I forgot they were the only
black pair I had without holes, but I am glad I did give them to
her, because my conscience would have been uncomfortable if I
hadn't.  When she had gone away, looking so proud and happy, the
poor little thing, I remembered that all I had to wear were the
horrid red and blue things Aunt Martha knit last winter for me
out of some yarn that Mrs. Joseph Burr of Upper Glen sent us.  It
was dreadfully coarse yarn and all knots, and I never saw any of
Mrs. Burr's own children wearing things made of such yarn.  But
Mary Vance says Mrs. Burr gives the minister stuff that she can't
use or eat herself, and thinks it ought to go as part of the
salary her husband signed to pay, but never does.

I just couldn't bear to wear those hateful stockings.  They were
so ugly and rough and felt so scratchy.  Everybody would have
made fun of me.  I thought at first I'd pretend to be sick and
not go to church next day, but I decided I couldn't do that,
because it would be acting a lie, and father told us after mother
died that was something we must never, never do.  It is just as
bad to act a lie as to tell one, though I know some people, right
here in the Glen, who act them, and never seem to feel a bit bad
about it.  I will not mention any names, but I know who they are
and so does father.

Then I tried my best to catch cold and really be sick by standing
on the snowbank in the Methodist graveyard with my bare feet
until Jerry pulled me off.  But it didn't hurt me a bit and so I
couldn't get out of going to church.  So I just decided I would
put my boots on and go that way.  I can't see why it was so wrong
and I was so careful to wash my legs just as clean as my face,
but, anyway, father wasn't to blame for it.  He was in the study
thinking of his sermon and other heavenly things, and I kept out
of his way before I went to Sunday School.  Father does not look
at people's legs in church, so of course he did not notice mine,
but all the gossips did and talked about it, and that is why I am
writing this letter to the _Journal_ to explain.  I suppose I did
very wrong, since everybody says so, and I am sorry and I am
wearing those awful stockings to punish myself, although father
bought me two nice new black pairs as soon as Mr. Flagg's store
opened on Monday morning.  But it was all my fault, and if people
blame father for it after they read this they are not Christians
and so I do not mind what they say.

There is another thing I want to explain about before I stop.
Mary Vance told me that Mr. Evan Boyd is blaming the Lew Baxters
for stealing potatoes out of his field last fall.  They did not
touch his potatoes.  They are very poor, but they are honest.  It
was us did it--Jerry and Carl and I.  Una was not with us at the
time.  We never thought it was stealing.  We just wanted a few
potatoes to cook over a fire in Rainbow Valley one evening to eat
with our fried trout.  Mr. Boyd's field was the nearest, just
between the valley and the village, so we climbed over his fence
and pulled up some stalks.  The potatoes were awful small,
because Mr. Boyd did not put enough fertilizer on them and we had
to pull up a lot of stalks before we got enough, and then they
were not much bigger than marbles.  Walter and Di Blythe helped
us eat them, but they did not come along until we had them cooked
and did not know where we got them, so they were not to blame at
all, only us.  We didn't mean any harm, but if it was stealing we
are very sorry and we will pay Mr. Boyd for them if he will wait
until we grow up.  We never have any money now because we are not
big enough to earn any, and Aunt Martha says it takes every cent
of poor father's salary, even when it is paid up regularly--and
it isn't often--to run this house.  But Mr. Boyd must not blame
the Lew Baxters any more, when they were quite innocent, and give
them a bad name.
                      Yours respectfully,
                                          FAITH MEREDITH."



CHAPTER XXVI. MISS CORNELIA GETS A NEW POINT OF VIEW

"Susan, after I'm dead I'm going to come back to earth every time
when the daffodils blow in this garden," said Anne rapturously.
"Nobody may see me, but I'll be here.  If anybody is in the
garden at the time--I THINK I'll come on an evening just like
this, but it MIGHT be just at dawn--a lovely, pale-pinky spring
dawn--they'll just see the daffodils nodding wildly as if an
extra gust of wind had blown past them, but it will be _I_."

"Indeed, Mrs. Dr. dear, you will not be thinking of flaunting
worldly things like daffies after you are dead," said Susan.
"And I do NOT believe in ghosts, seen or unseen."

"Oh, Susan, I shall not be a ghost!  That has such a horrible
sound.  I shall just be ME.  And I shall run around in the
twilight, whether it is morn or eve, and see all the spots I
love.  Do you remember how badly I felt when I left our little
House of Dreams, Susan?  I thought I could never love Ingleside
so well.  But I do.  I love every inch of the ground and every
stick and stone on it."

"I am rather fond of the place myself," said Susan, who would
have died if she had been removed from it, "but we must not set
our affections too much on earthly things, Mrs. Dr. dear.  There
are such things as fires and earthquakes.  We should always be
prepared.  The Tom MacAllisters over-harbour were burned out
three nights ago.  Some say Tom MacAllister set the house on fire
himself to get the insurance.  That may or may not be.  But I
advise the doctor to have our chimneys seen to at once.  An ounce
of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  But I see Mrs. Marshall
Elliott coming in at the gate, looking as if she had been sent
for and couldn't go."

"Anne dearie, have you seen the _Journal_ to-day?"

Miss Cornelia's voice was trembling, partly from emotion, partly
from the fact that she had hurried up from the store too fast and
lost her breath.

Anne bent over the daffodils to hide a smile.  She and Gilbert
had laughed heartily and heartlessly over the front page of the
_Journal_ that day, but she knew that to dear Miss Cornelia it
was almost a tragedy, and she must not wound her feelings by any
display of levity.

"Isn't it dreadful?  What IS to be done?" asked Miss Cornelia
despairingly.  Miss Cornelia had vowed that she was done with
worrying over the pranks of the manse children, but she went on
worrying just the same.

Anne led the way to the veranda, where Susan was knitting, with
Shirley and Rilla conning their primers on either side.  Susan
was already on her second pair of stockings for Faith.  Susan
never worried over poor humanity.  She did what in her lay for
its betterment and serenely left the rest to the Higher Powers.

"Cornelia Elliott thinks she was born to run this world, Mrs. Dr.
dear," she had once said to Anne, "and so she is always in a stew
over something.  I have never thought _I_ was, and so I go calmly
along.  Not but what it has sometimes occurred to me that things
might be run a little better than they are.  But it is not for us
poor worms to nourish such thoughts.  They only make us
uncomfortable and do not get us anywhere."

"I don't see that anything can be done--now--" said Anne, pulling
out a nice, cushiony chair for Miss Cornelia.  "But how in the
world did Mr. Vickers allow that letter to be printed?  Surely he
should have known better."

"Why, he's away, Anne dearie--he's been away to New Brunswick for
a week.  And that young scalawag of a Joe Vickers is editing the
_Journal_ in his absence.  Of course, Mr. Vickers would never
have put it in, even if he is a Methodist, but Joe would just
think it a good joke.  As you say, I don't suppose there is
anything to be done now, only live it down.  But if I ever get
Joe Vickers cornered somewhere I'll give him a talking to he
won't forget in a hurry.  I wanted Marshall to stop our
subscription to the _Journal_ instantly, but he only laughed and
said that to-day's issue was the only one that had had anything
readable in it for a year.  Marshall never will take anything
seriously--just like a man.  Fortunately, Evan Boyd is like that,
too.  He takes it as a joke and is laughing all over the place
about it.  And he's another Methodist!  As for Mrs. Burr of Upper
Glen, of course she will be furious and they will leave the
church.  Not that it will be a great loss from any point of view.
The Methodists are quite welcome to THEM."

"It serves Mrs. Burr right," said Susan, who had an old feud with
the lady in question and had been hugely tickled over the
reference to her in Faith's letter.  "She will find that she will
not be able to cheat the Methodist parson out of HIS salary with
bad yarn."

"The worst of it is, there's not much hope of things getting any
better," said Miss Cornelia gloomily.  "As long as Mr. Meredith
was going to see Rosemary West I did hope the manse would soon
have a proper mistress.  But that is all off.  I suppose she
wouldn't have him on account of the children--at least, everybody
seems to think so."

"I do not believe that he ever asked her," said Susan, who could
not conceive of any one refusing a minister.

"Well, nobody knows anything about THAT.  But one thing is
certain, he doesn't go there any longer.  And Rosemary didn't
look well all the spring.  I hope her visit to Kingsport will do
her good.  She's been gone for a month and will stay another
month, I understand.  I can't remember when Rosemary was away
from home before.  She and Ellen could never bear to be parted.
But I understand Ellen insisted on her going this time.  And
meanwhile Ellen and Norman Douglas are warming up the old soup."

"Is that really so?" asked Anne, laughing.  "I heard a rumour of
it, but I hardly believed it."

"Believe it!  You may believe it all right, Anne, dearie.  Nobody
is in ignorance of it.  Norman Douglas never left anybody in
doubt as to his intentions in regard to anything.  He always did
his courting before the public.  He told Marshall that he hadn't
thought about Ellen for years, but the first time he went to
church last fall he saw her and fell in love with her all over
again.  He said he'd clean forgot how handsome she was.  He
hadn't seen her for twenty years, if you can believe it.  Of
course he never went to church, and Ellen never went anywhere
else round here.  Oh, we all know what Norman means, but what
Ellen means is a different matter.  I shan't take it upon me to
predict whether it will be a match or not."

"He jilted her once--but it seems that does not count with some
people, Mrs. Dr. dear," Susan remarked rather acidly.

"He jilted her in a fit of temper and repented it all his life,"
said Miss Cornelia.  "That is different from a cold-blooded
jilting.  For my part, I never detested Norman as some folks do.
He could never over-crow ME.  I DO wonder what started him coming
to church.  I have never been able to believe Mrs. Wilsons's
story that Faith Meredith went there and bullied him into it.
I've always intended to ask Faith herself, but I've never
happened to think of it just when I saw her.  What influence
could SHE have over Norman Douglas?  He was in the store when I
left, bellowing with laughter over that scandalous letter.  You
could have heard him at Four Winds Point.  'The greatest girl in
the world,' he was shouting.  'She's that full of spunk she's
bursting with it.  And all the old grannies want to tame her,
darn them.  But they'll never be able to do it--never!  They
might as well try to drown a fish.  Boyd, see that you put more
fertilizer on your potatoes next year.  Ho, ho, ho!'  And then he
laughed till the roof shook."

"Mr. Douglas pays well to the salary, at least," remarked Susan.

"Oh, Norman isn't mean in some ways.  He'd give a thousand
without blinking a lash, and roar like a Bull of Bashan if he had
to pay five cents too much for anything.  Besides, he likes Mr.
Meredith's sermons, and Norman Douglas was always willing to
shell out if he got his brains tickled up.  There is no more
Christianity about him than there is about a black, naked heathen
in Africa and never will be.  But he's clever and well read and
he judges sermons as he would lectures.  Anyhow, it's well he
backs up Mr. Meredith and the children as he does, for they'll
need friends more than ever after this.  I am tired of making
excuses for them, believe ME."

"Do you know, dear Miss Cornelia," said Anne seriously, "I think
we have all been making too many excuses.  It is very foolish and
we ought to stop it.  I am going to tell you what I'd LIKE to do.
I shan't do it, of course"--Anne had noted a glint of alarm in
Susan's eye--"it would be too unconventional, and we must be
conventional or die, after we reach what is supposed to be a
dignified age.  But I'd LIKE to do it.  I'd like to call a
meeting of the Ladies Aid and W.M.S. and the Girls Sewing
Society, and include in the audience all and any Methodists who
have been criticizing the Merediths--although I do think if we
Presbyterians stopped criticizing and excusing we would find that
other denominations would trouble themselves very little about
our manse folks.  I would say to them, 'Dear Christian
friends'--with marked emphasis on 'Christian'--I have something
to say to you and I want to say it good and hard, that you may
take it home and repeat it to your families.  You Methodists need
not pity us, and we Presbyterians need not pity ourselves.  We
are not going to do it any more.  And we are going to say, boldly
and truthfully, to all critics and sympathizers, 'We are PROUD of
our minister and his family.  Mr. Meredith is the best preacher
Glen St. Mary church ever had.  Moreover, he is a sincere,
earnest teacher of truth and Christian charity.  He is a faithful
friend, a judicious pastor in all essentials, and a refined,
scholarly, well-bred man.  His family are worthy of him.  Gerald
Meredith is the cleverest pupil in the Glen school, and Mr.
Hazard says that he is destined to a brilliant career.  He is a
manly, honourable, truthful little fellow.  Faith Meredith is a
beauty, and as inspiring and original as she is beautiful.  There
is nothing commonplace about her.  All the other girls in the
Glen put together haven't the vim, and wit, and joyousness and
'spunk' she has.  She has not an enemy in the world.  Every one
who knows her loves her.  Of how many, children or grown-ups, can
that be said?  Una Meredith is sweetness personified.  She will
make a most lovable woman.  Carl Meredith, with his love for ants
and frogs and spiders, will some day be a naturalist whom all
Canada--nay, all the world, will delight to honour.  Do you know
of any other family in the Glen, or out of it, of whom all these
things can be said?  Away with shamefaced excuses and apologies.
We REJOICE in our minister and his splendid boys and girls!"

Anne stopped, partly because she was out of breath after her
vehement speech and partly because she could not trust herself to
speak further in view of Miss Cornelia's face. That good lady was
staring helplessly at Anne, apparently engulfed in billows of new
ideas.  But she came up with a gasp and struck out for shore
gallantly.

"Anne Blythe, I wish you WOULD call that meeting and say just
that!  You've made me ashamed of myself, for one, and far be it
from me to refuse to admit it.  OF COURSE, that is how we should
have talked--especially to the Methodists.  And it's every word
of it true--every word.  We've just been shutting our eyes to the
big worth-while things and squinting them on the little things
that don't really matter a pin's worth.  Oh, Anne dearie, I can
see a thing when it's hammered into my head.  No more apologizing
for Cornelia Marshall!  _I_ shall hold MY head up after this,
believe ME--though I MAY talk things over with you as usual just
to relieve my feelings if the Merediths do any more startling
stunts.  Even that letter I felt so bad about--why, it's only a
good joke after all, as Norman says.  Not many girls would have
been cute enough to think of writing it--and all punctuated so
nicely and not one word misspelled.  Just let me hear any
Methodist say one word about it--though all the same I'll never
forgive Joe Vickers--believe ME!  Where are the rest of your
small fry to-night?"

"Walter and the twins are in Rainbow Valley.  Jem is studying in
the garret."

"They are all crazy about Rainbow Valley.  Mary Vance thinks it's
the only place in the world.  She'd be off up here every evening
if I'd let her.  But I don't encourage her in gadding.  Besides,
I miss the creature when she isn't around, Anne dearie.  I never
thought I'd get so fond of her.  Not but what I see her faults
and try to correct them.  But she has never said one saucy word
to me since she came to my house and she is a GREAT help--for
when all is said and done, Anne dearie, I am not so young as I
once was, and there is no sense denying it.  I was fifty-nine my
last birthday.  I don't FEEL it, but there is no gainsaying the
Family Bible."



CHAPTER XXVII. A SACRED CONCERT

In spite of Miss Cornelia's new point of view she could not help
feeling a little disturbed over the next performance of the manse
children.  In public she carried off the situation splendidly,
saying to all the gossips the substance of what Anne had said in
daffodil time, and saying it so pointedly and forcibly that her
hearers found themselves feeling rather foolish and began to
think that, after all, they were making too much of a childish
prank. But in private Miss Cornelia allowed herself the relief of
bemoaning it to Anne.

"Anne dearie, they had a CONCERT IN THE GRAVEYARD last Thursday
evening, while the Methodist prayer meeting was going on.  There
they sat, on Hezekiah Pollock's tombstone, and sang for a solid
hour.  Of course, I understand it was mostly hymns they sang, and
it wouldn't have been quite so bad if they'd done nothing else.
But I'm told they finished up with _Polly Wolly Doodle_ at full
length--and that just when Deacon Baxter was praying."

"I was there that night," said Susan," and, although I did not
say anything about it to you, Mrs. Dr. dear,  I could not help
thinking that it was a great pity they picked that particular
evening.  It was truly blood-curdling to hear them sitting there
in that abode of the dead, shouting that frivolous song at the
tops of their lungs."

"I don't know what YOU were doing in a Methodist prayer meeting,"
said Miss Cornelia acidly.

"I have never found that Methodism was catching," retorted Susan
stiffly.  "And, as I was going to say when I was interrupted,
badly as I felt, I did NOT give in to the Methodists.  When Mrs.
Deacon Baxter said, as we came out, 'What a disgraceful
exhibition!'  _I_ said, looking her fairly in the eye, 'They are
all beautiful singers, and none of YOUR choir, Mrs. Baxter, ever
bother themselves coming out to your prayer meeting, it seems.
Their voices appear to be in tune only on Sundays!'  She was
quite meek and I felt that I had snubbed her properly.  But I
could have done it much more thoroughly, Mrs. Dr. dear, if only
they had left out _Polly Wolly Doodle_.  It is truly terrible to
think of that being sung in a graveyard."

"Some of those dead folks sang _Polly Wolly Doodle_ when they
were living, Susan.  Perhaps they like to hear it yet," suggested
Gilbert.

Miss Cornelia looked at him reproachfully and made up her mind
that, on some future occasion, she would hint to Anne that the
doctor should be admonished not to say such things.  They might
injure his practice.  People might get it into their heads that
he wasn't orthodox.  To be sure, Marshall said even worse things
habitually, but then HE was not a public man.

"I understand that their father was in his study all the time,
with his windows open, but never noticed them at all.  Of course,
he was lost in a book as usual.  But I spoke to him about it
yesterday, when he called."

"How could you dare, Mrs. Marshall Elliott?" asked Susan
rebukingly.

"Dare!  It's time somebody dared something.  Why, they say he
knows nothing about that letter of Faith's to the JOURNAL because
nobody liked to mention it to him.  He never looks at a JOURNAL
of course.  But I thought he ought to know of this to prevent any
such performances in future.  He said he would 'discuss it with
them.'  But of course he'd never think of it again after he got
out of our gate.  That man has no sense of humour, Anne, believe
ME.  He preached last Sunday on 'How to Bring up Children.'  A
beautiful sermon it was, too--and everybody in church thinking
'what a pity you can't practise what you preach.'"

Miss Cornelia did Mr. Meredith an injustice in thinking he would
soon forget what she had told him.  He went home much disturbed
and when the children came from Rainbow Valley that night, at a
much later hour than they should have been prowling in it, he
called them into his study.

They went in, somewhat awed.  It was such an unusual thing for
their father to do.  What could he be going to say to them?  They
racked their memories for any recent transgression of sufficient
importance, but could not recall any.  Carl had spilled a
saucerful of jam on Mrs. Peter Flagg's silk dress two evenings
before, when, at Aunt Martha's invitation, she had stayed to
supper.  But Mr. Meredith had not noticed it, and Mrs. Flagg, who
was a kindly soul, had made no fuss.  Besides, Carl had been
punished by having to wear Una's dress all the rest of the
evening.

Una suddenly thought that perhaps her father meant to tell them
that he was going to marry Miss West.  Her heart began to beat
violently and her legs trembled.  Then she saw that Mr. Meredith
looked very stern and sorrowful.  No, it could not be that.

"Children," said Mr. Meredith, "I have heard something that has
pained me very much.  Is it true that you sat out in the
graveyard all last Thursday evening and sang ribald songs while a
prayer meeting was being held in the Methodist church?"

"Great Caesar, Dad, we forgot all about it being their prayer
meeting night," exclaimed Jerry in dismay.

"Then it is true--you did do this thing?"

"Why, Dad, I don't know what you mean by ribald songs.  We sang
hymns--it was a sacred concert, you know.  What harm was that?  I
tell you we never thought about it's being Methodist prayer
meeting night.  They used to have their meeting Tuesday nights
and since they've changed to Thursdays it's hard to remember."

"Did you sing nothing but hymns?"

"Why," said Jerry, turning red, "we DID sing _Polly Wolly Doodle_
at the last.  Faith said, 'Let's have something cheerful to wind
up with.'  But we didn't mean any harm, Father--truly we didn't."

"The concert was my idea, Father," said Faith, afraid that Mr.
Meredith might blame Jerry too much.  "You know the Methodists
themselves had a sacred concert in their church three Sunday
nights ago.  I thought it would be good fun to get one up in
imitation of it.  Only they had prayers at theirs, and we left
that part out, because we heard that people thought it awful for
us to pray in a graveyard.  YOU were sitting in here all the
time," she added, "and never said a word to us."

"I did not notice what you were doing.  That is no excuse for me,
of course.  I am more to blame than you--I realize that.  But why
did you sing that foolish song at the end?"

"We didn't think," muttered Jerry, feeling that it was a very
lame excuse, seeing that he had lectured Faith so strongly in the
Good-Conduct Club sessions for her lack of thought.  "We're
sorry, Father--truly, we are.  Pitch into us hard--we deserve a
regular combing down."

But Mr. Meredith did no combing down or pitching into.  He sat
down and gathered his small culprits close to him and talked a
little to them, tenderly and wisely.  They were overcome with
remorse and shame, and felt that they could never be so silly and
thoughtless again.

"We've just got to punish ourselves good and hard for this,"
whispered Jerry as they crept upstairs.  "We'll have a session of
the Club first thing tomorrow and decide how we'll do it.  I
never saw father so cut up.  But I wish to goodness the
Methodists would stick to one night for their prayer meeting and
not wander all over the week."

"Anyhow, I'm glad it wasn't what I was afraid it was," murmured
Una to herself.

Behind them, in the study, Mr. Meredith had sat down at his desk
and buried his face in his arms.

"God help me!" he said.  "I'm a poor sort of father.  Oh,
Rosemary!  If you had only cared!"



CHAPTER XXVIII. A FAST DAY

The Good-Conduct Club had a special session the next morning
before school.  After various suggestions, it was decided that a
fast day would be an appropriate punishment.

"We won't eat a single thing for a whole day," said Jerry.  "I'm
kind of curious to see what fasting is like, anyhow.  This will be
a good chance to find out."

"What day will we choose for it?" asked Una, who thought it would
he quite an easy punishment and rather wondered that Jerry and
Faith had not devised something harder.

"Let's pick Monday," said Faith.  "We mostly have a pretty FILLING
dinner on Sundays, and Mondays meals never amount to much
anyhow."

"But that's just the point," exclaimed Jerry.  "We mustn't take
the easiest day to fast, but the hardest--and that's Sunday,
because, as you say, we mostly have roast beef that day instead
of cold ditto.  It wouldn't be much punishment to fast from
ditto.  Let's take next Sunday.  It will be a good day, for
father is going to exchange for the morning service with the
Upper Lowbridge minister.  Father will be away till evening.  If
Aunt Martha wonders what's got into us, we'll tell her right up
that we're fasting for the good of our souls, and it is in the
Bible and she is not to interfere, and I guess she won't."

Aunt Martha did not.  She merely said in her fretful mumbling
way, "What foolishness are you young rips up to now?" and thought
no more about it.  Mr. Meredith had gone away early in the
morning before any one was up.  He went without his breakfast,
too, but that was, of course, of common occurrence.  Half of the
time he forgot it and there was no one to remind him of it.
Breakfast--Aunt Martha's breakfast--was not a hard meal to miss.
Even the hungry "young rips" did not feel it any great
deprivation to abstain from the "lumpy porridge and blue milk"
which had aroused the scorn of Mary Vance.  But it was different
at dinner time.  They were furiously hungry then, and the odor of
roast beef which pervaded the manse, and which was wholly
delightful in spite of the fact that the roast beef was badly
underdone, was almost more than they could stand.  In desperation
they rushed to the graveyard where they couldn't smell it.  But
Una could not keep her eyes from the dining room window, through
which the Upper Lowbridge minister could be seen, placidly
eating.

"If I could only have just a weeny, teeny piece," she sighed.

"Now, you stop that," commanded Jerry.  "Of course it's hard--but
that's the punishment of it.  I could eat a graven image this very
minute, but am I complaining?  Let's think of something else.
We've just got to rise above our stomachs."

At supper time they did not feel the pangs of hunger which they
had suffered earlier in the day.

"I suppose we're getting used to it," said Faith.  "I feel an
awfully queer all-gone sort of feeling, but I can't say I'm
hungry."

"My head is funny," said Una.  "It goes round and round
sometimes."

But she went gamely to church with the others.  If Mr. Meredith
had not been so wholly wrapped up in and carried away with his
subject he might have noticed the pale little face and hollow
eyes in the manse pew beneath.  But he noticed nothing and his
sermon was something longer than usual.  Then, just before be gave
out the final hymn, Una Meredith tumbled off the seat of the
manse pew and lay in a dead faint on the floor.

Mrs. Elder Clow was the first to reach her.  She caught the thin
little body from the arms of white-faced, terrified Faith and
carried it into the vestry.  Mr. Meredith forgot the hymn and
everything else and rushed madly after her.  The congregation
dismissed itself as best it could.

"Oh, Mrs. Clow," gasped Faith, "is Una dead?  Have we killed
her?"

"What is the matter with my child?" demanded the pale father.

"She has just fainted, I think," said Mrs. Clow.  "Oh, here's the
doctor, thank goodness."

Gilbert did not find it a very easy thing to bring Una back to
consciousness.  He worked over her for a long time before her
eyes opened.  Then he carried her over to the manse, followed by
Faith, sobbing hysterically in her relief.

"She is just hungry, you know--she didn't eat a thing to-day--
none of us did--we were all fasting."

"Fasting!" said Mr. Meredith, and "Fasting?" said the doctor.

"Yes--to punish ourselves for singing _Polly Wolly_ in the
graveyard," said Faith.

"My child, I don't want you to punish yourselves for that," said
Mr. Meredith in distress.  "I gave you your little scolding--and
you were all penitent--and I forgave you."

"Yes, but we had to be punished," explained Faith.  "It's our
rule--in our Good-Conduct Club, you know--if we do anything
wrong, or anything that is likely to hurt father in the
congregation, we HAVE to punish ourselves.  We are bringing
ourselves up, you know, because there is nobody to do it."

Mr. Meredith groaned, but the doctor got up from Una's side with
an air of relief.

"Then this child simply fainted from lack of food and all she
needs is a good square meal," he said.  "Mrs. Clow, will you be
kind enough to see she gets it?  And I think from Faith's story
that they all would be the better for something to eat, or we
shall have more faintings."

"I suppose we shouldn't have made Una fast," said Faith
remorsefully.  "When I think of it, only Jerry and I should have
been punished.  WE got up the concert and we were the oldest."

"I sang _Polly Wolly_ just the same as the rest of you," said
Una's weak little voice, "so I had to be punished, too."

Mrs. Clow came with a glass of milk, Faith and Jerry and Carl
sneaked off to the pantry, and John Meredith went into his study,
where he sat in the darkness for a long time, alone with his
bitter thoughts.  So his children were bringing themselves up
because there was "nobody to do it"--struggling along amid their
little perplexities without a hand to guide or a voice to
counsel.  Faith's innocently uttered phrase rankled in her
father's mind like a barbed shaft.  There was "nobody" to look
after them--to comfort their little souls and care for their
little bodies.  How frail Una had looked, lying there on the
vestry sofa in that long faint!  How thin were her tiny hands,
how pallid her little face!  She looked as if she might slip away
from him in a breath--sweet little Una, of whom Cecilia had
begged him to take such special care.  Since his wife's death he
had not felt such an agony of dread as when he had hung over his
little girl in her unconsciousness.  He must do something--but
what?  Should he ask Elizabeth Kirk to marry him?  She was a good
woman--she would be kind to his children.  He might bring himself
to do it if it were not for his love for Rosemary West.  But
until he had crushed that out he could not seek another woman in
marriage.  And he could not crush it out--he had tried and he
could not.  Rosemary had been in church that evening, for the
first time since her return from Kingsport.  He had caught a
glimpse of her face in the back of the crowded church, just as he
had finished his sermon.  His heart had given a fierce throb.  He
sat while the choir sang the "collection piece," with his bent
head and tingling pulses.  He had not seen her since the evening
upon which he had asked her to marry him.  When he had risen to
give out the hymn his hands were trembling and his pale face was
flushed.  Then Una's fainting spell had banished everything from
his mind for a time.  Now, in the darkness and solitude of the
study it rushed back.  Rosemary was the only woman in the world
for him.  It was of no use for him to think of marrying any
other.  He could not commit such a sacrilege even for his
children's sake.  He must take up his burden alone--he must try
to be a better, a more watchful father--he must tell his children
not to be afraid to come to him with all their little problems.
Then he lighted his lamp and took up a bulky new book which was
setting the theological world by the ears.  He would read just
one chapter to compose his mind.  Five minutes later he was lost
to the world and the troubles of the world.



CHAPTER XXIX. A WEIRD TALE

On an early June evening Rainbow Valley was an entirely
delightful place and the children felt it to be so, as they sat
in the open glade where the bells rang elfishly on the Tree
Lovers, and the White Lady shook her green tresses.  The wind was
laughing and whistling about them like a leal, glad-hearted
comrade.  The young ferns were spicy in the hollow.   The wild
cherry trees scattered over the valley, among the dark firs, were
mistily white.  The robins were whistling over in the maples
behind Ingleside.  Beyond, on the slopes of the Glen, were
blossoming orchards, sweet and mystic and wonderful, veiled in
dusk.  It was spring, and young things MUST be glad in spring.
Everybody was glad in Rainbow Valley that evening--until Mary
Vance froze their blood with the story of Henry Warren's ghost.

Jem was not there.  Jem spent his evenings now studying for his
entrance examination in the Ingleside garret.  Jerry was down
near the pond, trouting.  Walter had been reading Longfellow's
sea poems to the others and they were steeped in the beauty and
mystery of the ships.  Then they talked of what they would do
when they were grown up--where they would travel--the far, fair
shores they would see.  Nan and Di meant to go to Europe.  Walter
longed for the Nile moaning past its Egyptian sands, and a
glimpse of the sphinx.  Faith opined rather dismally that she
supposed she would have to be a missionary--old Mrs. Taylor told
her she ought to be--and then she would at least see India or
China, those mysterious lands of the Orient.  Carl's heart was
set on African jungles.   Una said nothing.  She thought she
would just like to stay at home.  It was prettier here than
anywhere else.  It would be dreadful when they were all grown up
and had to scatter over the world.  The very idea made Una feel
lonesome and homesick.  But the others dreamed on delightedly
until Mary Vance arrived and vanished poesy and dreams at one
fell swoop.

"Laws, but I'm out of puff," she exclaimed.  "I've run down that
hill like sixty.  I got an awful scare up there at the old Bailey
place."

"What frightened you?" asked Di.

"I dunno.  I was poking about under them lilacs in the old
garden, trying to see if there was any lilies-of-the-valley out
yet.  It was dark as a pocket there--and all at once I seen
something stirring and rustling round at the other side of the
garden, in those cherry bushes.  It was WHITE.  I tell you I
didn't stop for a second look.  I flew over the dyke quicker than
quick.  I was sure it was Henry Warren's ghost."

"Who was Henry Warren?" asked Di.

"And why should he have a ghost?" asked Nan.

"Laws, did you never hear the story?  And you brought up in the
Glen.  Well, wait a minute till I get by breath all back and I'll
tell you."

Walter shivered delightsomely.  He loved ghost stories.  Their
mystery, their dramatic climaxes, their eeriness gave him a
fearful, exquisite pleasure.  Longfellow instantly grew tame and
commonplace.  He threw the book aside and stretched himself out,
propped upon his elbows to listen whole-heartedly, fixing his
great luminous eyes on Mary's face.  Mary wished he wouldn't look
at her so.  She felt she could make a better job of the ghost
story if Walter were not looking at her.  She could put on
several frills and invent a few artistic details to enhance the
horror.  As it was, she had to stick to the bare truth--or what
had been told her for the truth.

"Well," she began, "you know old Tom Bailey and his wife used to
live in that house up there thirty years ago.  He was an awful
old rip, they say, and his wife wasn't much better.  They'd no
children of their own, but a sister of old Tom's died and left a
little boy--this Henry Warren--and they took him.  He was about
twelve when he came to them, and kind of undersized and delicate.
They say Tom and his wife used him awful from the start--whipped
him and starved him.  Folks said they wanted him to die so's they
could get the little bit of money his mother had left for him.
Henry didn't die right off, but he begun having fits--epileps,
they called 'em--and he grew up kind of simple, till he was about
eighteen.  His uncle used to thrash him in that garden up there
'cause it was back of the house where no one could see him.  But
folks could hear, and they say it was awful sometimes hearing
poor Henry plead with his uncle not to kill him.  But nobody
dared interfere 'cause old Tom was such a reprobate he'd have
been sure to get square with 'em some way.  He burned the barns
of a man at Harbour Head who offended him.  At last Henry died
and his uncle and aunt give out he died in one of his fits and
that was all anybody ever knowed, but everybody said Tom had just
up and killed him for keeps at last.  And it wasn't long till it
got around that Henry WALKED.  That old garden was HA'NTED.  He
was heard there at nights, moaning and crying.  Old Tom and his
wife got out--went out West and never came back.  The place got
such a bad name nobody'd buy or rent it.  That's why it's all
gone to ruin.  That was thirty years ago, but Henry Warren's
ghost ha'nts it yet."

"Do you believe that?" asked Nan scornfully.  "_I_ don't."

"Well, GOOD people have seen him--and heard him." retorted Mary.
"They say he appears and grovels on the ground and holds you by
the legs and gibbers and moans like he did when he was alive.  I
thought of that as soon as I seen that white thing in the bushes
and thought if it caught me like that and moaned I'd drop down
dead on the spot.  So I cut and run.  It MIGHTN'T have been his
ghost, but I wasn't going to take any chances with a ha'nt."

"It was likely old Mrs. Stimson's white calf," laughed Di.  "It
pastures in that garden--I've seen it."

"Maybe so.  But I'M not going home through the Bailey garden any
more.  Here's Jerry with a big string of trout and it's my turn
to cook them.  Jem and Jerry both say I'm the best cook in the
Glen.  And Cornelia told me I could bring up this batch of
cookies.  I all but dropped them when I saw Henry's ghost."

Jerry hooted when he heard the ghost story--which Mary repeated
as she fried the fish, touching it up a trifle or so, since
Walter had gone to help Faith to set the table.  It made no
impression on Jerry, but Faith and Una and Carl had been secretly
much frightened, though they would never have given in to it.  It
was all right as long as the others were with them in the valley:
but when the feast was over and the shadows fell they quaked with
remembrance.  Jerry went up to Ingleside with the Blythes to see
Jem about something, and Mary Vance went around that way home.
So Faith and Una and Carl had to go back to the manse alone.
They walked very close together and gave the old Bailey garden a
wide berth.  They did not believe that it was haunted, of course,
but they would not go near it for all that.



CHAPTER XXX. THE GHOST ON THE DYKE

Somehow, Faith and Carl and Una could not shake off the hold
which the story of Henry Warren's ghost had taken upon their
imaginations.  They had never believed in ghosts.  Ghost tales
they had heard a-plenty--Mary Vance had told some far more
blood-curdling than this; but those tales were all of places and
people and spooks far away and unknown.  After the first
half-awful, half-pleasant thrill of awe and terror they thought
of them no more.  But this story came home to them.  The old
Bailey garden was almost at their very door--almost in their
beloved Rainbow Valley.  They had passed and repassed it
constantly; they had hunted for flowers in it; they had made
short cuts through it when they wished to go straight from the
village to the valley.  But never again!  After the night when
Mary Vance told them its gruesome tale they would not have gone
through or near it on pain of death.  Death!  What was death
compared to the unearthly possibility of falling into the
clutches of Henry Warren's grovelling ghost?

One warm July evening the three of them were sitting under the
Tree Lovers, feeling a little lonely.  Nobody else had come near
the valley that evening.  Jem Blythe was away in Charlottetown,
writing on his entrance examinations.  Jerry and Walter Blythe
were off for a sail on the harbour with old Captain Crawford.
Nan and Di and Rilla and Shirley had gone down the harbour road
to visit Kenneth and Persis Ford, who had come with their parents
for a flying visit to the little old House of Dreams.  Nan had
asked Faith to go with them, but Faith had declined.  She would
never have admitted it, but she felt a little secret jealousy of
Persis Ford, concerning whose wonderful beauty and city glamour
she had heard a great deal.  No, she wasn't going to go down
there and play second fiddle to anybody.  She and Una took their
story books to Rainbow Valley and read, while Carl investigated
bugs along the banks of the brook, and all three were happy until
they suddenly realized that it was twilight and that the old
Bailey garden was uncomfortably near by.  Carl came and sat down
close to the girls.  They all wished they had gone home a little
sooner, but nobody said anything.

Great, velvety, purple clouds heaped up in the west and spread
over the valley.  There was no wind and everything was suddenly,
strangely, dreadfully still.  The marsh was full of thousands of
fire-flies.  Surely some fairy parliament was being convened that
night.  Altogether, Rainbow Valley was not a canny place just
then.

Faith looked fearfully up the valley to the old Bailey garden.
Then, if anybody's blood ever did freeze, Faith Meredith's
certainly froze at that moment.  The eyes of Carl and Una
followed her entranced gaze and chills began gallopading up and
down their spines also.  For there, under the big tamarack tree
on the tumble-down, grass-grown dyke of the Bailey garden, was
something white--shapelessly white in the gathering gloom.  The
three Merediths sat and gazed as if turned to stone.

"It's--it's the--calf," whispered Una at last.

"It's--too--big--for the calf," whispered Faith.  Her mouth and
lips were so dry she could hardly articulate the words.

Suddenly Carl gasped,

"It's coming here."

The girls gave one last agonized glance.  Yes, it was creeping
down over the dyke, as no calf ever did or could creep.  Reason
fled before sudden, over-mastering panic.  For the moment every
one of the trio was firmly convinced that what they saw was Henry
Warren's ghost.  Carl sprang to his feet and bolted blindly.
With a simultaneous shriek the girls followed him.  Like mad
creatures they tore up the hill, across the road and into the
manse.  They had left Aunt Martha sewing in the kitchen.  She was
not there.  They rushed to the study.  It was dark and
tenantless.  As with one impulse, they swung around and made for
Ingleside--but not across Rainbow Valley.  Down the hill and
through the Glen street they flew on the wings of their wild
terror, Carl in the lead, Una bringing up the rear.  Nobody tried
to stop them, though everybody who saw them wondered what fresh
devilment those manse youngsters were up to now.  But at the gate
of Ingleside they ran into Rosemary West, who had just been in
for a moment to return some borrowed books.

She saw their ghastly faces and staring eyes.  She realized that
their poor little souls were wrung with some awful and real fear,
whatever its cause.  She caught Carl with one arm and Faith with
the other.  Una stumbled against her and held on desperately.

"Children, dear, what has happened?" she said.  "What has
frightened you?"

"Henry Warren's ghost," answered Carl, through his chattering
teeth.

"Henry--Warren's--ghost!" said amazed Rosemary, who had never
heard the story.

"Yes," sobbed Faith hysterically.  "It's there--on the Bailey
dyke--we saw it--and it started to--chase us."

Rosemary herded the three distracted creatures to the Ingleside
veranda.  Gilbert and Anne were both away, having also gone to
the House of Dreams, but Susan appeared in the doorway, gaunt and
practical and unghostlike.

"What is all this rumpus about?" she inquired.

Again the children gasped out their awful tale, while Rosemary
held them close to her and soothed them with wordless comfort.

"Likely it was an owl," said Susan, unstirred.

An owl!  The Meredith children never had any opinion of Susan's
intelligence after that!

"It was bigger than a million owls," said Carl, sobbing--oh, how
ashamed Carl was of that sobbing in after days--"and it--it
GROVELLED just as Mary said--and it was crawling down over the
dyke to get at us.  Do owls CRAWL?"

Rosemary looked at Susan.

"They must have seen something to frighten them so," she said.

"I will go and see," said Susan coolly.  "Now, children, calm
yourselves.  Whatever you have seen, it was not a ghost.  As for
poor Henry Warren, I feel sure he would be only too glad to rest
quietly in his peaceful grave once he got there.  No fear of HIM
venturing back, and that you may tie to.  If you can make them
see reason, Miss West, I will find out the truth of the matter."

Susan departed for Rainbow Valley, valiantly grasping a pitchfork
which she found leaning against the back fence where the doctor
had been working in his little hay-field.  A pitchfork might not
be of much use against "ha'nts," but it was a comforting sort of
weapon.  There was nothing to be seen in Rainbow Valley when
Susan reached it.  No white visitants appeared to be lurking in
the shadowy, tangled old Bailey garden.  Susan marched boldly
through it and beyond it, and rapped with her pitchfork on the
door of the little cottage on the other side, where Mrs. Stimson
lived with her two daughters.

Back at Ingleside Rosemary had succeeded in calming the children.
They still sobbed a little from shock, but they were beginning to
feel a lurking and salutary suspicion that they had made dreadful
geese of themselves.  This suspicion became a certainty when
Susan finally returned.

"I have found out what your ghost was," she said, with a grim
smile, sitting down on a rocker and fanning herself.  "Old Mrs.
Stimson has had a pair of factory cotton sheets bleaching in the
Bailey garden for a week.  She spread them on the dyke under the
tamarack tree because the grass was clean and short there.  This
evening she went out to take them in.  She had her knitting in
her hands so she hung the sheets over her shoulders by way of
carrying them.  And then she must have dropped one of her needles
and find it she could not and has not yet.  But she went down on
her knees and crept about to hunt for it, and she was at that
when she heard awful yells down in the valley and saw the three
children tearing up the hill past her.  She thought they had been
bit by something and it gave her poor old heart such a turn that
she could not move or speak, but just crouched there till they
disappeared.  Then she staggered back home and they have been
applying stimulants to her ever since, and her heart is in a
terrible condition and she says she will not get over this fright
all summer."

The Merediths sat, crimson with a shame that even Rosemary's
understanding sympathy could not remove.  They sneaked off home,
met Jerry at the manse gate and made remorseful confession.  A
session of the Good-Conduct Club was arranged for next morning.

"Wasn't Miss West sweet to us to-night?" whispered Faith in bed.

"Yes," admitted Una.  "It is such a pity it changes people so
much to be made stepmothers."

"I don't believe it does," said Faith loyally.



CHAPTER XXXI. CARL DOES PENANCE

"I don't see why we should be punished at all," said Faith,
rather sulkily.  "We didn't do anything wrong.  We couldn't help
being frightened.  And it won't do father any harm.  It was just
an accident."

"You were cowards," said Jerry with judicial scorn, "and you gave
way to your cowardice.  That is why you should be punished.
Everybody will laugh at you about this, and that is a disgrace to
the family."

"If you knew how awful the whole thing was," said Faith with a
shiver, "you would think we had been punished enough already.  I
wouldn't go through it again for anything in the whole world."

"I believe you'd have run yourself if you'd been there," muttered
Carl.

"From an old woman in a cotton sheet," mocked Jerry.  "Ho, ho,
ho!"

"It didn't look a bit like an old woman," cried Faith.  "It was
just a great, big, white thing crawling about in the grass just
as Mary Vance said Henry Warren did.  It's all very fine for you
to laugh, Jerry Meredith, but you'd have laughed on the other
side of your mouth if you'd been there.  And how are we to be
punished?  _I_ don't think it's fair, but let's know what we have
to do, Judge Meredith!"

"The way I look at it," said Jerry, frowning, "is that Carl was
the most to blame.  He bolted first, as I understand it.
Besides, he was a boy, so he should have stood his ground to
protect you girls, whatever the danger was.  You know that, Carl,
don't you?"

"I s'pose so," growled Carl shamefacedly.

"Very well.  This is to be your punishment.  To-night you'll sit
on Mr. Hezekiah Pollock's tombstone in the graveyard alone, until
twelve o'clock."

Carl gave a little shudder.  The graveyard was not so very far
from the old Bailey garden.  It would be a trying ordeal, but
Carl was anxious to wipe out his disgrace and prove that he was
not a coward after all.

"All right," he said sturdily.  "But how'll I know when it is
twelve?"

"The study windows are open and you'll hear the clock striking.
And mind you that you are not to budge out of that graveyard
until the last stroke.  As for you girls, you've got to go
without jam at supper for a week."

Faith and Una looked rather blank.  They were inclined to think
that even Carl's comparatively short though sharp agony was
lighter punishment than this long drawn-out ordeal.  A whole week
of soggy bread without the saving grace of jam!  But no shirking
was permitted in the club.  The girls accepted their lot with
such philosophy as they could summon up.

That night they all went to bed at nine, except Carl, who was
already keeping vigil on the tombstone.  Una slipped in to bid
him good night.  Her tender heart was wrung with sympathy.

"Oh, Carl, are you much scared?" she whispered.

"Not a bit," said Carl airily.

"I won't sleep a wink till after twelve," said Una.  "If you get
lonesome just look up at our window and remember that I'm inside,
awake, and thinking about you.  That will be a little company,
won't it?"

"I'll be all right.  Don't you worry about me," said Carl.

But in spite of his dauntless words Carl was a pretty lonely boy
when the lights went out in the manse.  He had hoped his father
would be in the study as he so often was.  He would not feel
alone then.  But that night Mr. Meredith had been summoned to
the fishing village at the harbour mouth to see a dying man.  He
would not likely be back until after midnight.  Carl must dree
his weird alone.

A Glen man went past carrying a lantern.  The mysterious shadows
caused by the lantern-light went hurtling madly over the
graveyard like a dance of demons or witches.  Then they passed
and darkness fell again.  One by one the lights in the Glen went
out.  It was a very dark night, with a cloudy sky, and a raw east
wind that was cold in spite of the calendar.  Far away on the
horizon was the low dim lustre of the Charlottetown lights.  The
wind wailed and sighed in the old fir-trees.  Mr. Alec Davis'
tall monument gleamed whitely through the gloom.  The willow
beside it tossed long, writhing arms spectrally.  At times, the
gyrations of its boughs made it seem as if the monument were
moving, too.

Carl curled himself up on the tombstone with his legs tucked
under him.  It wasn't precisely pleasant to hang them over the
edge of the stone.  Just suppose--just suppose--bony hands should
reach up out of Mr. Pollock's grave under it and clutch him by
the ankles.  That had been one of Mary Vance's cheerful
speculations one time when they had all been sitting there.  It
returned to haunt Carl now.  He didn't believe those things; he
didn't even really believe in Henry Warren's ghost.  As for Mr.
Pollock, he had been dead sixty years, so it wasn't likely he
cared who sat on his tombstone now.  But there is something very
strange and terrible in being awake when all the rest of the
world is asleep.  You are alone then with nothing but your own
feeble personality to pit against the mighty principalities and
powers of darkness.  Carl was only ten and the dead were all
around him--and he wished, oh, he wished that the clock would
strike twelve.  Would it NEVER strike twelve?  Surely Aunt Martha
must have forgotten to wind it.

And then it struck eleven--only eleven!  He must stay yet another
hour in that grim place.  If only there were a few friendly stars
to be seen!  The darkness was so thick it seemed to press against
his face.  There was a sound as of stealthy passing footsteps all
over the graveyard.  Carl shivered, partly with prickling terror,
partly with real cold.

Then it began to rain--a chill, penetrating drizzle.  Carl's thin
little cotton blouse and shirt were soon wet through.  He felt
chilled to the bone.  He forgot mental terrors in his physical
discomfort.  But he must stay there till twelve--he was punishing
himself and he was on his honour.  Nothing had been said about
rain--but it did not make any difference.  When the study clock
finally struck twelve a drenched little figure crept stiffly down
off Mr. Pollock's tombstone, made its way into the manse and
upstairs to bed.  Carl's teeth were chattering.  He thought he
would never get warm again.

He was warm enough when morning came.  Jerry gave one startled
look at his crimson face and then rushed to call his father.  Mr.
Meredith came hurriedly, his own face ivory white from the pallor
of his long night vigil by a death bed.  He had not got home
until daylight.  He bent over his little lad anxiously.

"Carl, are you sick?" he said.

"That--tombstone--over here," said Carl, "it's--moving--about--
it's coming--at--me--keep it--away--please."

Mr. Meredith rushed to the telephone.  In ten minutes Dr. Blythe
was at the manse.  Half an hour later a wire was sent to town for
a trained nurse, and all the Glen knew that Carl Meredith was
very ill with pneumonia and that Dr. Blythe had been seen to
shake his head.

Gilbert shook his head more than once in the fortnight that
followed.  Carl developed double pneumonia.  There was one night
when Mr. Meredith paced his study floor, and Faith and Una
huddled in their bedroom and cried, and Jerry, wild with remorse,
refused to budge from the floor of the hall outside Carl's door.
Dr. Blythe and the nurse never left the bedside.  They fought
death gallantly until the red dawn and they won the victory.
Carl rallied and passed the crisis in safety.  The news was
phoned about the waiting Glen and people found out how much they
really loved their minister and his children.

"I haven't had one decent night's sleep since I heard the child
was sick," Miss Cornelia told Anne, "and Mary Vance has cried
until those queer eyes of hers looked like burnt holes in a
blanket.  Is it true that Carl got pneumonia from straying out in
the graveyard that wet night for a dare?"

"No.  He was staying there to punish himself for cowardice in
that affair of the Warren ghost.  It seems they have a club for
bringing themselves up, and they punish themselves when they do
wrong.  Jerry told Mr. Meredith all about it."

"The poor little souls," said Miss Cornelia.

Carl got better rapidly, for the congregation took enough
nourishing things to the manse to furnish forth a hospital.
Norman Douglas drove up every evening with a dozen fresh eggs and
a jar of Jersey cream.  Sometimes he stayed an hour and bellowed
arguments on predestination with Mr. Meredith in the study;
oftener he drove on up to the hill that overlooked the Glen.

When Carl was able to go again to Rainbow Valley they had a
special feast in his honour and the doctor came down and helped
them with the fireworks.  Mary Vance was there, too, but she did
not tell any ghost stories.  Miss Cornelia had given her a
talking on that subject which Mary would not forget in a hurry.



CHAPTER XXXII. TWO STUBBORN PEOPLE

Rosemary West, on her way home from a music lesson at Ingleside,
turned aside to the hidden spring in Rainbow Valley.  She had not
been there all summer; the beautiful little spot had no longer
any allurement for her.  The spirit of her young lover never came
to the tryst now; and the memories connected with John Meredith
were too painful and poignant.  But she had happened to glance
backward up the valley and had seen Norman Douglas vaulting as
airily as a stripling over the old stone dyke of the Bailey
garden and thought he was on his way up the hill.  If he overtook
her she would have to walk home with him and she was not going to
do that.  So she slipped at once behind the maples of the spring,
hoping he had not seen her and would pass on.

But Norman had seen her and, what was more, was in pursuit of
her.  He had been wanting for some time to have talk with
Rosemary, but she had always, so it seemed, avoided him.
Rosemary had never, at any time, liked Norman Douglas very well.
His bluster, his temper, his noisy hilarity, had always
antagonized her.  Long ago she had often wondered how Ellen could
possibly be attracted to him.  Norman Douglas was perfectly aware
of her dislike and he chuckled over it.  It never worried Norman
if people did not like him.  It did not even make him dislike
them in return, for he took it as a kind of extorted compliment.
He thought Rosemary a fine girl, and he meant to be an excellent,
generous brother-in-law to her.  But before he could be her
brother-in-law he had to have a talk with her, so, having seen
her leaving Ingleside as he stood in the doorway of a Glen store,
he had straightway plunged into the valley to overtake her.

Rosemary was sitting pensively on the maple seat where John
Meredith had been sitting on that evening nearly a year ago.  The
tiny spring shimmered and dimpled under its fringe of ferns.
Ruby-red gleams of sunset fell through the arching boughs.  A
tall clump of perfect asters grew at her side.  The little spot
was as dreamy and witching and evasive as any retreat of fairies
and dryads in ancient forests.  Into it Norman Douglas bounced,
scattering and annihilating its charm in a moment.  His
personality seemed to swallow the place up.  There was simply
nothing there but Norman Douglas, big, red-bearded, complacent.

"Good evening," said Rosemary coldly, standing up.

"'Evening, girl.  Sit down again--sit down again.  I want to have
a talk with you.  Bless the girl, what's she looking at me like
that for?  I don't want to eat you--I've had my supper.  Sit down
and be civil."

"I can hear what you have to say quite as well here," said
Rosemary.

"So you can, girl, if you use your ears.  I only wanted you to be
comfortable.  You look so durned uncomfortable, standing there.
Well, I'LL sit anyway."

Norman accordingly sat down in the very place John Meredith had
once sat.  The contrast was so ludicrous that Rosemary was afraid
she would go off into a peal of hysterical laughter over it.
Norman cast his hat aside, placed his huge, red hands on his
knees, and looked up at her with his eyes a-twinkle.

"Come, girl, don't be so stiff," he said, ingratiatingly.  When
he liked he could be very ingratiating.  "Let's have a
reasonable, sensible, friendly chat.  There's something I want to
ask you.  Ellen says she won't, so it's up to me to do it."

Rosemary looked down at the spring, which seemed to have shrunk
to the size of a dewdrop.  Norman gazed at her in despair.

"Durn it all, you might help a fellow out a bit," he burst forth.

"What is it you want me to help you say?" asked Rosemary
scornfully.

"You know as well as I do, girl.  Don't be putting on your
tragedy airs.  No wonder Ellen was scared to ask you.  Look here,
girl, Ellen and I want to marry each other.  That's plain
English, isn't it?  Got that?  And Ellen says she can't unless
you give her back some tom-fool promise she made.  Come now, will
you do it?  Will you do it?"

"Yes," said Rosemary.

Norman bounced up and seized her reluctant hand.

"Good!  I knew you would--I told Ellen you would.  I knew it
would only take a minute.  Now, girl, you go home and tell Ellen,
and we'll have a wedding in a fortnight and you'll come and live
with us.  We shan't leave you to roost on that hill-top like a
lonely crow--don't you worry.  I know you hate me, but, Lord,
it'll be great fun living with some one that hates me.  Life'll
have some spice in it after this.  Ellen will roast me and you'll
freeze me.  I won't have a dull moment."

Rosemary did not condescend to tell him that nothing would ever
induce her to live in his house.  She let him go striding back to
the Glen, oozing delight and complacency, and she walked slowly
up the hill home.  She had known this was coming ever since she
had returned from Kingsport, and found Norman Douglas established
as a frequent evening caller.  His name was never mentioned
between her and Ellen, but the very avoidance of it was
significant.  It was not in Rosemary's nature to feel bitter, or
she would have felt very bitter.  She was coldly civil to Norman,
and she made no difference in any way with Ellen.  But Ellen had
not found much comfort in her second courtship.

She was in the garden, attended by St. George, when Rosemary came
home.  The two sisters met in the dahlia walk.  St. George sat
down on the gravel walk between them and folded his glossy black
tail gracefully around his white paws, with all the indifference
of a well-fed, well-bred, well-groomed cat.

"Did you ever see such dahlias?" demanded Ellen proudly.  "They
are just the finest we've ever had."

Rosemary had never cared for dahlias.  Their presence in the
garden was her concession to Ellen's taste.  She noticed one huge
mottled one of crimson and yellow that lorded it over all the
others.

"That dahlia," she said, pointing to it, "is exactly like Norman
Douglas.  It might easily be his twin brother."

Ellen's dark-browed face flushed.  She admired the dahlia in
question, but she knew Rosemary did not, and that no compliment
was intended.  But she dared not resent Rosemary's speech--poor
Ellen dared not resent anything just then.  And it was the first
time Rosemary had ever mentioned Norman's name to her.  She felt
that this portended something.

"I met Norman Douglas in the valley," said Rosemary, looking
straight at her sister, "and he told me you and he wanted to be
married--if I would give you permission."

"Yes?  What did you say?" asked Ellen, trying to speak naturally
and off-handedly, and failing completely.  She could not meet
Rosemary's eyes.  She looked down at St. George's sleek back and
felt horribly afraid.  Rosemary had either said she would or she
wouldn't.  If she would Ellen would feel so ashamed and
remorseful that she would be a very uncomfortable bride-elect;
and if she wouldn't--well, Ellen had once learned to live without
Norman Douglas, but she had forgotten the lesson and felt that
she could never learn it again.

"I said that as far as I was concerned you were at full liberty
to marry each other as soon as you liked," said Rosemary.

"Thank you," said Ellen, still looking at St. George.

Rosemary's face softened.

"I hope you'll be happy, Ellen," she said gently.

"Oh, Rosemary," Ellen looked up in distress, "I'm so ashamed--I
don't deserve it--after all I said to you--"

"We won't speak about that," said Rosemary hurriedly and
decidedly.

"But--but," persisted Ellen, "you are free now, too--and it's not
too late--John Meredith--"

"Ellen West!"  Rosemary had a little spark of temper under all
her sweetness and it flashed forth now in her blue eyes.  "Have
you quite lost your senses in EVERY respect?  Do you suppose for
an instant that _I_ am going to go to John Meredith and say
meekly, 'Please, sir, I've changed my mind and please, sir, I
hope you haven't changed yours.'  Is that what you want me to
do?"

"No--no--but a little--encouragement--he would come back--"

"Never.  He despises me--and rightly.  No more of this, Ellen.  I
bear you no grudge--marry whom you like.  But no meddling in my
affairs."

"Then you must come and live with me," said Ellen.  "I shall not
leave you here alone."

"Do you really think that I would go and live in Norman Douglas's
house?"

"Why not?" cried Ellen, half angrily, despite her humiliation.

Rosemary began to laugh.

"Ellen, I thought you had a sense of humour.  Can you see me doing
it?"

"I don't see why you wouldn't.  His house is big enough--you'd
have your share of it to yourself--he wouldn't interfere."

"Ellen, the thing is not to be thought of.  Don't bring this up
again."

"Then," said Ellen coldly, and determinedly, "I shall not marry
him.  I shall not leave you here alone.  That is all there is to
be said about it."

"Nonsense, Ellen."

"It is not nonsense.  It is my firm decision.  It would be absurd
for you to think of living here by yourself--a mile from any
other house.  If you won't come with me I'll stay with you.  Now,
we won't argue the matter, so don't try"

"I shall leave Norman to do the arguing," said Rosemary.

"I'LL deal with Norman.  I can manage HIM.  I would never have
asked you to give me back my promise--never--but I had to tell
Norman why I couldn't marry him and he said HE would ask you.  I
couldn't prevent him.  You need not suppose you are the only
person in the world who possesses self-respect.  I never dreamed
of marrying and leaving you here alone.  And you'll find I can be
as determined as yourself."

Rosemary turned away and went into the house, with a shrug of her
shoulders.  Ellen looked down at St. George, who had never
blinked an eyelash or stirred a whisker during the whole
interview.

"St. George, this world would be a dull place without the men,
I'll admit, but I'm almost tempted to wish there wasn't one of
'em in it.  Look at the trouble and bother they've made right
here, George--torn our happy old life completely up by the roots,
Saint.  John Meredith began it and Norman Douglas has finished
it.  And now both of them have to go into limbo.  Norman is the
only man I ever met who agrees with me that the Kaiser of Germany
is the most dangerous creature alive on this earth--and I can't
marry this sensible person because my sister is stubborn and I'm
stubborner.  Mark my words, St. George, the minister would come
back if she raised her little finger.  But she won't George--
she'll never do it--she won't even crook it--and I don't dare
meddle, Saint.  I won't sulk, George; Rosemary didn't sulk, so
I'm determined I won't either, Saint; Norman will tear up the
turf, but the long and short of it is, St. George, that all of us
old fools must just stop thinking of marrying.  Well, well,
'despair is a free man, hope is a slave,' Saint.  So now come
into the house, George, and I'll solace you with a saucerful of
cream.  Then there will be one happy and contented creature on
this hill at least."



CHAPTER XXXIII. CARL IS--NOT--WHIPPED

"There is something I think I ought to tell you," said Mary Vance
mysteriously.

She and Faith and Una were walking arm in arm through the
village, having foregathered at Mr. Flagg's store.  Una and Faith
exchanged looks which said, "NOW something disagreeable is
coming."  When Mary Vance thought she ought to tell them things
there was seldom much pleasure in the hearing.  They often
wondered why they kept on liking Mary Vance--for like her they
did, in spite of everything.  To be sure, she was generally a
stimulating and agreeable companion.  If only she would not have
those convictions that it was her duty to tell them things!

"Do you know that Rosemary West won't marry your pa because she
thinks you are such a wild lot?  She's afraid she couldn't bring
you up right and so she turned him down."

Una's heart thrilled with secret exultation.  She was very glad
to hear that Miss West would not marry her father.  But Faith was
rather disappointed.

"How do you know?" she asked.

"Oh, everybody's saying it.  I heard Mrs. Elliott talking it over
with Mrs. Doctor.  They thought I was too far away to hear, but
I've got ears like a cat's.  Mrs. Elliott said she hadn't a doubt
that Rosemary was afraid to try stepmothering you because you'd
got such a reputation.  Your pa never goes up the hill now.
Neither does Norman Douglas.  Folks say Ellen has jilted him just
to get square with him for jilting her ages ago.  But Norman is
going about declaring he'll get her yet.  And I think you ought
to know you've spoiled your pa's match and _I_ think it's a pity,
for he's bound to marry somebody before long, and Rosemary West
would have been the best wife _I_ know of for him."

"You told me all stepmothers were cruel and wicked," said Una.

"Oh--well," said Mary rather confusedly, "they're mostly awful
cranky, I know.  But Rosemary West couldn't be very mean to any
one.  I tell you if your pa turns round and marries Emmeline Drew
you'll wish you'd behaved yourselves better and not frightened
Rosemary out of it.  It's awful that you've got such a reputation
that no decent woman'll marry your pa on account of you.  Of
course, _I_ know that half the yarns that are told about you
ain't true.  But give a dog a bad name.  Why, some folks are
saying that it was Jerry and Carl that threw the stones through
Mrs. Stimson's window the other night when it was really them two
Boyd boys.  But I'm afraid it was Carl that put the eel in old
Mrs. Carr's buggy, though I said at first I wouldn't believe it
until I'd better proof than old Kitty Alec's word.  I told Mrs.
Elliott so right to her face."

"What did Carl do?" cried Faith.

"Well, they say--now, mind, I'm only telling you what people
say--so there's no use in your blaming me for it--that Carl and a
lot of other boys were fishing eels over the bridge one evening
last week.  Mrs. Carr drove past in that old rattletrap buggy of
hers with the open back.  And Carl he just up and threw a big eel
into the back.  When poor old Mrs. Carr was driving up the hill
by Ingleside that eel came squirming out between her feet.  She
thought it was a snake and she just give one awful screech and
stood up and jumped clean over the wheels.  The horse bolted, but
it went home and no damage was done.  But Mrs. Carr jarred her
legs most terrible, and has had nervous spasms ever since
whenever she thinks of the eel.  Say, it was a rotten trick to
play on the poor old soul.  She's a decent body, if she is as
queer as Dick's hat band."

Faith and Una looked at each other again.  This was a matter for
the Good-Conduct Club.  They would not talk it over with Mary.

"There goes your pa," said Mary as Mr. Meredith passed them, "and
never seeing us no more'n if we weren't here.  Well, I'm getting
so's I don't mind it.  But there are folks who do."

Mr. Meredith had not seen them, but he was not walking along in
his usual dreamy and abstracted fashion.  He strode up the hill
in agitation and distress.  Mrs. Alec Davis had just told him the
story of Carl and the eel.  She had been very indignant about it.
Old Mrs. Carr was her third cousin.  Mr. Meredith was more than
indignant.  He was hurt and shocked.  He had not thought Carl
would do anything like this.  He was not inclined to be hard on
pranks of heedlessness or forgetfulness, but THIS was different.
THIS had a nasty tang in it.  When he reached home he found Carl
on the lawn, patiently studying the habits and customs of a
colony of wasps.  Calling him into the study Mr. Meredith
confronted him, with a sterner face than any of his children had
ever seen before, and asked him if the story were true.

"Yes," said Carl, flushing, but meeting his father's eyes
bravely.

Mr. Meredith groaned.  He had hoped that there had been at least
exaggeration.

"Tell me the whole matter," he said.

"The boys were fishing for eels over the bridge," said Carl.
"Link Drew had caught a whopper--I mean an awful big one--the
biggest eel I ever saw.  He caught it right at the start and it
had been lying in his basket a long time, still as still.  I
thought it was dead, honest I did.  Then old Mrs. Carr drove over
the bridge and she called us all young varmints and told us to go
home.  And we hadn't said a word to her, father, truly.  So when
she drove back again, after going to the store, the boys dared me
to put Link's eel in her buggy.  I thought it was so dead it
couldn't hurt her and I threw it in.  Then the eel came to life
on the hill and we heard her scream and saw her jump out.  I was
awful sorry.  That's all, father."

It was not quite as bad as Mr. Meredith had feared, but it was
quite bad enough.  "I must punish you, Carl," he said
sorrowfully.

"Yes, I know, father."

"I--I must whip you."

Carl winced.  He had never been whipped.  Then, seeing how badly
his father felt, he said cheerfully,

"All right, father."

Mr. Meredith misunderstood his cheerfulness and thought him
insensible.  He told Carl to come to the study after supper, and
when the boy had gone out he flung himself into his chair and
groaned again.  He dreaded the evening sevenfold more than Carl
did.  The poor minister did not even know what he should whip his
boy with.  What was used to whip boys?  Rods?  Canes?  No, that
would be too brutal.  A timber switch, then?  And he, John
Meredith, must hie him to the woods and cut one.  It was an
abominable thought.  Then a picture presented itself unbidden to
his mind.  He saw Mrs. Carr's wizened, nut-cracker little face
at the appearance of that reviving eel--he saw her sailing
witch-like over the buggy wheels.  Before he could prevent
himself the minister laughed.  Then he was angry with himself and
angrier still with Carl.  He would get that switch at once--and
it must not be too limber, after all.

Carl was talking the matter over in the graveyard with Faith and
Una, who had just come home.  They were horrified at the idea of
his being whipped--and by father, who had never done such a
thing!  But they agreed soberly that it was just.

"You know it was a dreadful thing to do," sighed Faith.  "And you
never owned up in the club."

"I forgot," said Carl.  "Besides, I didn't think any harm came of
it.  I didn't know she jarred her legs.  But I'm to be whipped
and that will make things square."

"Will it hurt--very much?" said Una, slipping her hand into
Carl's.

"Oh, not so much, I guess," said Carl gamely.  "Anyhow, I'm not
going to cry, no matter how much it hurts.  It would make father
feel so bad, if I did.  He's all cut up now.  I wish I could whip
myself hard enough and save him doing it."

After supper, at which Carl had eaten little and Mr. Meredith
nothing at all, both went silently into the study.  The switch
lay on the table.  Mr. Meredith had had a bad time getting a
switch to suit him.  He cut one, then felt it was too slender.
Carl had done a really indefensible thing.  Then he cut
another--it was far too thick.  After all, Carl had thought the
eel was dead.  The third one suited him better; but as he picked
it up from the table it seemed very thick and heavy--more like a
stick than a switch.

"Hold out your hand," he said to Carl.

Carl threw back his head and held out his hand unflinchingly.
But he was not very old and he could not quite keep a little fear
out of his eyes.  Mr. Meredith looked down into those eyes--why,
they were Cecilia's eyes--her very eyes--and in them was the
selfsame expression he had once seen in Cecilia's eyes when she
had come to him to tell him something she had been a little
afraid to tell him.  Here were her eyes in Carl's little, white
face--and six weeks ago he had thought, through one endless,
terrible night, that his little lad was dying.

John Meredith threw down the switch.

"Go," he said, "I cannot whip you."

Carl fled to the graveyard, feeling that the look on his father's
face was worse than any whipping.

"Is it over so soon?" asked Faith.  She and Una had been holding
hands and setting teeth on the Pollock tombstone.

"He--he didn't whip me at all," said Carl with a sob, "and--I
wish he had--and he's in there, feeling just awful."

Una slipped away.  Her heart yearned to comfort her father.  As
noiselessly as a little gray mouse she opened the study door and
crept in.  The room was dark with twilight.  Her father was
sitting at his desk.  His back was towards her--his head was in
his hands.  He was talking to himself--broken, anguished words--
but Una heard--heard and understood, with the sudden illumination
that comes to sensitive, unmothered children.  As silently as she
had come in she slipped out and closed the door.  John Meredith
went on talking out his pain in what he deemed his undisturbed
solitude.



CHAPTER XXXIV. UNA VISITS THE HILL

Una went upstairs.  Carl and Faith were already on their way
through the early moonlight to Rainbow Valley, having heard
therefrom the elfin lilt of Jerry's jews-harp and having guessed
that the Blythes were there and fun afoot.  Una had no wish to
go.  She sought her own room first where she sat down on her bed
and had a little cry.  She did not want anybody to come in her
dear mother's place.  She did not want a stepmother who would
hate her and make her father hate her.  But father was so
desperately unhappy--and if she could do any anything to make him
happier she MUST do it.  There was only one thing she could
do--and she had known the moment she had left the study that she
must do it.  But it was a very hard thing to do.

After Una cried her heart out she wiped her eyes and went to the
spare room.  It was dark and rather musty, for the blind had not
been drawn up nor the window opened for a long time.  Aunt Martha
was no fresh-air fiend.  But as nobody ever thought of shutting a
door in the manse this did not matter so much, save when some
unfortunate minister came to stay all night and was compelled to
breathe the spare room atmosphere.

There was a closet in the spare room and far back in the closet a
gray silk dress was hanging.  Una went into the closet and shut
the door, went down on her knees and pressed her face against the
soft silken folds.  It had been her mother's wedding-dress.  It
was still full of a sweet, faint, haunting perfume, like
lingering love.  Una always felt very close to her mother
there--as if she were kneeling at her feet with head in her lap.
She went there once in a long while when life was TOO hard.

"Mother," she whispered to the gray silk gown, "_I_ will never
forget you, mother, and I'll ALWAYS love you best.  But I have to
do it, mother, because father is so very unhappy.  I know you
wouldn't want him to be unhappy.  And I will be very good to her,
mother, and try to love her, even if she is like Mary Vance said
stepmothers always were."

Una carried some fine, spiritual strength away from her secret
shrine.  She slept peacefully that night with the tear stains
still glistening on her sweet, serious, little face.

The next afternoon she put on her best dress and hat.  They were
shabby enough.  Every other little girl in the Glen had new
clothes that summer except Faith and Una.  Mary Vance had a
lovely dress of white embroidered lawn, with scarlet silk sash
and shoulder bows.  But to-day Una did not mind her shabbiness.
She only wanted to be very neat.  She washed her face carefully.
She brushed her black hair until it was as smooth as satin.  She
tied her shoelaces carefully, having first sewed up two runs in
her one pair of good stockings.  She would have liked to black
her shoes, but she could not find any blacking.  Finally, she
slipped away from the manse, down through Rainbow Valley, up
through the whispering woods, and out to the road that ran past
the house on the hill.  It was quite a long walk and Una was
tired and warm when she got there.

She saw Rosemary West sitting under a tree in the garden and
stole past the dahlia beds to her.  Rosemary had a book in her
lap, but she was gazing afar across the harbour and her thoughts
were sorrowful enough.  Life had not been pleasant lately in the
house on the hill.  Ellen had not sulked--Ellen had been a brick.
But things can be felt that are never said and at times the
silence between the two women was intolerably eloquent.  All the
many familiar things that had once made life sweet had a flavour
of bitterness now.  Norman Douglas made periodical irruptions
also, bullying and coaxing Ellen by turns.  It would end,
Rosemary believed, by his dragging Ellen off with him some day,
and Rosemary felt that she would be almost glad when it happened.
Existence would be horribly lonely then, but it would be no
longer charged with dynamite.

She was roused from her unpleasant reverie by a timid little
touch on her shoulder.  Turning, she saw Una Meredith.

"Why, Una, dear, did you walk up here in all this heat?"

"Yes," said Una, "I came to--I came to--"

But she found it very hard to say what she had come to do.  Her
voice failed--her eyes filled with tears.

"Why, Una, little girl, what is the trouble?  Don't be afraid to
tell me."

Rosemary put her arm around the thin little form and drew the
child close to her.  Her eyes were very beautiful--her touch so
tender that Una found courage.

"I came--to ask you--to marry father," she gasped.

Rosemary was silent for a moment from sheer dumbfounderment.  She
stared at Una blankly.

"Oh, don't be angry, please, dear Miss West," said Una,
pleadingly.  "You see, everybody is saying that you wouldn't
marry father because we are so bad.  He is VERY unhappy about it.
So I thought I would come and tell you that we are never bad ON
PURPOSE.  And if you will only marry father we will all try to be
good and do just what you tell us.  I'm SURE you won't have any
trouble with us.  PLEASE, Miss West."

Rosemary had been thinking rapidly.  Gossiping surmise, she saw,
had put this mistaken idea into Una's mind.  She must be
perfectly frank and sincere with the child.

"Una, dear," she said softly.  "It isn't because of you poor
little souls that I cannot be your father's wife.  I never
thought of such a thing.  You are not bad--I never supposed you
were.  There--there was another reason altogether, Una."

"Don't you like father?" asked Una, lifting reproachful eyes.
"Oh, Miss West, you don't know how nice he is.  I'm sure he'd
make you a GOOD husband."

Even in the midst of her perplexity and distress Rosemary
couldn't help a twisted, little smile.

"Oh, don't laugh, Miss West," Una cried passionately.  "Father
feels DREADFUL about it."

"I think you're mistaken, dear," said Rosemary.

"I'm not.  I'm SURE I'm not.  Oh, Miss West, father was going to
whip Carl yesterday--Carl had been naughty--and father couldn't
do it because you see he had no PRACTICE in whipping.  So when
Carl came out and told us father felt so bad, I slipped into the
study to see if I could help him--he LIKES me to comfort him,
Miss West--and he didn't hear me come in and I heard what he was
saying.  I'll tell you, Miss West, if you'll let me whisper it in
your ear."

Una whispered earnestly.  Rosemary's face turned crimson.  So
John Meredith still cared.  HE hadn't changed his mind.  And he
must care intensely if he had said that--care more than she had
ever supposed he did.  She sat still for a moment, stroking Una's
hair.  Then she said,

"Will you take a little letter from me to your father, Una?"

"Oh, are you going to marry him, Miss West?" asked Una eagerly.

"Perhaps--if he really wants me to," said Rosemary, blushing
again.

"I'm glad--I'm glad," said Una bravely.  Then she looked up, with
quivering lips.  "Oh, Miss West, you won't turn father against
us--you won't make him hate us, will you?" she said beseechingly.

Rosemary stared again.

"Una Meredith!  Do you think I would do such a thing?  Whatever
put such an idea into your head?"

"Mary Vance said stepmothers were all like that--and that they
all hated their stepchildren and made their father hate them--she
said they just couldn't help it--just being stepmothers made them
like that"--

"You poor child!  And yet you came up here and asked me to marry
your father because you wanted to make him happy?  You're a
darling--a heroine--as Ellen would say, you're a brick.  Now
listen to me, very closely, dearest.  Mary Vance is a silly
little girl who doesn't know very much and she is dreadfully
mistaken about some things.  I would never dream of trying to
turn your father against you.  I would love you all dearly.  I
don't want to take your own mother's place--she must always have
that in your hearts.  But neither have I any intention of being a
stepmother.  I want to be your friend and helper and CHUM.  Don't
you think that would be nice, Una--if you and Faith and Carl and
Jerry could just think of me as a good jolly chum--a big older
sister?"

"Oh, it would be lovely," cried Una, with a transfigured face.
She flung her arms impulsively round Rosemary's neck.  She was so
happy that she felt as if she could fly on wings.

"Do the others--do Faith and the boys have the same idea you had
about stepmothers?"

"No.  Faith never believed Mary Vance.  I was dreadfully foolish
to believe her, either.  Faith loves you already--she has loved
you ever since poor Adam was eaten.  And Jerry and Carl will
think it is jolly.  Oh, Miss West, when you come to live with us,
will you--could you--teach me to cook--a little--and sew--and--
and--and do things?  I don't know anything.  I won't be much
trouble--I'll try to learn fast."

"Darling, I'll teach you and help you all I can.  Now, you won't
say a word to anybody about this, will you--not even to Faith,
until your father himself tells you you may?  And you'll stay and
have tea with me?"

"Oh, thank you--but--but--I think I'd rather go right back and
take the letter to father," faltered Una.  "You see, he'll be
glad that much SOONER, Miss West."

"I see," said Rosemary.  She went to the house, wrote a note and
gave it to Una.  When that small damsel had run off, a
palpitating bundle of happiness, Rosemary went to Ellen, who was
shelling peas on the back porch.

"Ellen," she said, "Una Meredith has just been here to ask me to
marry her father."

Ellen looked up and read her sister's face.

"And you're going to?" she said.

"It's quite likely."

Ellen went on shelling peas for a few minutes.  Then she suddenly
put her hands up to her own face.  There were tears in her
black-browed eyes.

"I--I hope we'll all be happy," she said between a sob and a
laugh.

Down at the manse Una Meredith, warm, rosy, triumphant, marched
boldly into her father's study and laid a letter on the desk
before him.  His pale face flushed as he saw the clear, fine
handwriting he knew so well.  He opened the letter.  It was very
short--but he shed twenty years as he read it.  Rosemary asked
him if he could meet her that evening at sunset by the spring in
Rainbow Valley.



CHAPTER XXXV. "LET THE PIPER COME"

"And so," said Miss Cornelia, "the double wedding is to be
sometime about the middle of this month."

There was a faint chill in the air of the early September
evening, so Anne had lighted her ever ready fire of driftwood in
the big living room, and she and Miss Cornelia basked in its
fairy flicker.

"It is so delightful--especially in regard to Mr. Meredith and
Rosemary," said Anne.  "I'm as happy in the thought of it, as I
was when I was getting married myself.  I felt exactly like a
bride again last evening when I was up on the hill seeing
Rosemary's trousseau."

"They tell me her things are fine enough for a princess," said
Susan from a shadowy corner where she was cuddling her brown boy.
"I have been invited up to see them also and I intend to go some
evening.  I understand that Rosemary is to wear white silk and a
veil, but Ellen is to be married in navy blue.  I have no doubt,
Mrs. Dr. dear, that that is very sensible of her, but for my own
part I have always felt that if I were ever married _I_ would
prefer the white and the veil, as being more bride-like."

A vision of Susan in "white and a veil" presented itself before
Anne's inner vision and was almost too much for her.

"As for Mr. Meredith," said Miss Cornelia, "even his engagement
has made a different man of him.  He isn't half so dreamy and
absent-minded, believe me.  I was so relieved when I heard that
he had decided to close the manse and let the children visit
round while he was away on his honeymoon.  If he had left them
and old Aunt Martha there alone for a month I should have
expected to wake every morning and see the place burned down."

"Aunt Martha and Jerry are coming here," said Anne.  "Carl is
going to Elder Clow's.  I haven't heard where the girls are
going."

"Oh, I'm going to take them," said Miss Cornelia.  "Of course, I
was glad to, but Mary would have given me no peace till I asked
them any way.  The Ladies' Aid is going to clean the manse from
top to bottom before the bride and groom come back, and Norman
Douglas has arranged to fill the cellar with vegetables.  Nobody
ever saw or heard anything quite like Norman Douglas these days,
believe ME.  He's so tickled that he's going to marry Ellen West
after wanting her all his life.  If _I_ was Ellen--but then, I'm
not, and if she is satisfied I can very well be.  I heard her say
years ago when she was a schoolgirl that she didn't want a tame
puppy for a husband.  There's nothing tame about Norman, believe
ME."

The sun was setting over Rainbow Valley.  The pond was wearing a
wonderful tissue of purple and gold and green and crimson.  A
faint blue haze rested on the eastern hill, over which a great,
pale, round moon was just floating up like a silver bubble.

They were all there, squatted in the little open glade--Faith and
Una, Jerry and Carl, Jem and Walter, Nan and Di, and Mary Vance.
They had been having a special celebration, for it would be Jem's
last evening in Rainbow Valley.  On the morrow he would leave for
Charlottetown to attend Queen's Academy.  Their charmed circle
would be broken; and, in spite of the jollity of their little
festival, there was a hint of sorrow in every gay young heart.

"See--there is a great golden palace over there in the sunset,"
said Walter, pointing.  "Look at the shining tower--and the
crimson banners streaming from them.  Perhaps a conqueror is
riding home from battle--and they are hanging them out to do
honour to him."

"Oh, I wish we had the old days back again," exclaimed Jem.  "I'd
love to be a soldier--a great, triumphant general.  I'd give
EVERYTHING to see a big battle."

Well, Jem was to be a soldier and see a greater battle than had
ever been fought in the world; but that was as yet far in the
future; and the mother, whose first-born son he was, was wont to
look on her boys and thank God that the "brave days of old,"
which Jem longed for, were gone for ever, and that never would it
be necessary for the sons of Canada to ride forth to battle "for
the ashes of their fathers and the temples of their gods."

The shadow of the Great Conflict had not yet made felt any
forerunner of its chill.  The lads who were to fight, and perhaps
fall, on the fields of France and Flanders, Gallipoli and
Palestine, were still roguish schoolboys with a fair life in
prospect before them: the girls whose hearts were to be wrung
were yet fair little maidens a-star with hopes and dreams.

Slowly the banners of the sunset city gave up their crimson and
gold; slowly the conqueror's pageant faded out.  Twilight crept
over the valley and the little group grew silent.  Walter had
been reading again that day in his beloved book of myths and he
remembered how he had once fancied the Pied Piper coming down the
valley on an evening just like this.

He began to speak dreamily, partly because he wanted to thrill
his companions a little, partly because something apart from him
seemed to be speaking through his lips.

"The Piper is coming nearer," he said, "he is nearer than he was
that evening I saw him before.  His long, shadowy cloak is
blowing around him.  He pipes--he pipes--and we must follow--Jem
and Carl and Jerry and I--round and round the world.  Listen--
listen--can't you hear his wild music?"

The girls shivered.

"You know you're only pretending," protested Mary Vance, "and I
wish you wouldn't.  You make it too real. I hate that old Piper
of yours."

But Jem sprang up with a gay laugh.  He stood up on a little
hillock, tall and splendid, with his open brow and his fearless
eyes.  There were thousands like him all over the land of the
maple.

"Let the Piper come and welcome," he cried, waving his hand.
"I'LL follow him gladly round and round the world."

THE END








End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Rainbow Valley, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

*** END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK RAINBOW VALLEY ***

This file should be named rnbvl10.txt or rnbvl10.zip
Corrected EDITIONS of our eBooks get a new NUMBER, rnbvl11.txt
VERSIONS based on separate sources get new LETTER, rnbvl10a.txt

This book has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK
Initiative at the Celebration of Women Writers through the
combined work of Bernard J. Farber, Carmen Baxter, Dona Rucci,
Elizabeth Morton, Rebekah Neely, Joe Johnson, Joan Chovan, Judith
Fetterolf, Mary Nuzzo, Sally Drake, Sally Starks, Steve Callis,
Virginia Mohlere-Dellinger and Mary Mark Ockerbloom.

http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/

Reformatted by Ben Crowder <crowderb@blankslate.net>
http://www.blankslate.net/lang/etexts.php

Project Gutenberg eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the US
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we usually do not
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.

We are now trying to release all our eBooks one year in advance
of the official release dates, leaving time for better editing.
Please be encouraged to tell us about any error or corrections,
even years after the official publication date.

Please note neither this listing nor its contents are final til
midnight of the last day of the month of any such announcement.
The official release date of all Project Gutenberg eBooks is at
Midnight, Central Time, of the last day of the stated month.  A
preliminary version may often be posted for suggestion, comment
and editing by those who wish to do so.

Most people start at our Web sites at:
http://gutenberg.net or
http://promo.net/pg

These Web sites include award-winning information about Project
Gutenberg, including how to donate, how to help produce our new
eBooks, and how to subscribe to our email newsletter (free!).


Those of you who want to download any eBook before announcement
can get to them as follows, and just download by date.  This is
also a good way to get them instantly upon announcement, as the
indexes our cataloguers produce obviously take a while after an
announcement goes out in the Project Gutenberg Newsletter.

http://www.ibiblio.org/gutenberg/etext03 or
ftp://ftp.ibiblio.org/pub/docs/books/gutenberg/etext03

Or /etext02, 01, 00, 99, 98, 97, 96, 95, 94, 93, 92, 92, 91 or 90

Just search by the first five letters of the filename you want,
as it appears in our Newsletters.


Information about Project Gutenberg (one page)

We produce about two million dollars for each hour we work.  The
time it takes us, a rather conservative estimate, is fifty hours
to get any eBook selected, entered, proofread, edited, copyright
searched and analyzed, the copyright letters written, etc.   Our
projected audience is one hundred million readers.  If the value
per text is nominally estimated at one dollar then we produce $2
million dollars per hour in 2002 as we release over 100 new text
files per month:  1240 more eBooks in 2001 for a total of 4000+
We are already on our way to trying for 2000 more eBooks in 2002
If they reach just 1-2% of the world's population then the total
will reach over half a trillion eBooks given away by year's end.

The Goal of Project Gutenberg is to Give Away 1 Trillion eBooks!
This is ten thousand titles each to one hundred million readers,
which is only about 4% of the present number of computer users.

Here is the briefest record of our progress (* means estimated):

eBooks Year Month

    1  1971 July
   10  1991 January
  100  1994 January
 1000  1997 August
 1500  1998 October
 2000  1999 December
 2500  2000 December
 3000  2001 November
 4000  2001 October/November
 6000  2002 December*
 9000  2003 November*
10000  2004 January*


The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation has been created
to secure a future for Project Gutenberg into the next millennium.

We need your donations more than ever!

As of February, 2002, contributions are being solicited from people
and organizations in: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut,
Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts,
Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South
Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West
Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

We have filed in all 50 states now, but these are the only ones
that have responded.

As the requirements for other states are met, additions to this list
will be made and fund raising will begin in the additional states.
Please feel free to ask to check the status of your state.

In answer to various questions we have received on this:

We are constantly working on finishing the paperwork to legally
request donations in all 50 states.  If your state is not listed and
you would like to know if we have added it since the list you have,
just ask.

While we cannot solicit donations from people in states where we are
not yet registered, we know of no prohibition against accepting
donations from donors in these states who approach us with an offer to
donate.

International donations are accepted, but we don't know ANYTHING about
how to make them tax-deductible, or even if they CAN be made
deductible, and don't have the staff to handle it even if there are
ways.

Donations by check or money order may be sent to:

Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
PMB 113
1739 University Ave.
Oxford, MS 38655-4109

Contact us if you want to arrange for a wire transfer or payment
method other than by check or money order.

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation has been approved by
the US Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization with EIN
[Employee Identification Number] 64-622154.  Donations are
tax-deductible to the maximum extent permitted by law.  As fund-raising
requirements for other states are met, additions to this list will be
made and fund-raising will begin in the additional states.

We need your donations more than ever!

You can get up to date donation information online at:

http://www.gutenberg.net/donation.html


***

If you can't reach Project Gutenberg,
you can always email directly to:

Michael S. Hart <hart@pobox.com>

Prof. Hart will answer or forward your message.

We would prefer to send you information by email.


**The Legal Small Print**


(Three Pages)

***START**THE SMALL PRINT!**FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN EBOOKS**START***
Why is this "Small Print!" statement here? You know: lawyers.
They tell us you might sue us if there is something wrong with
your copy of this eBook, even if you got it for free from
someone other than us, and even if what's wrong is not our
fault. So, among other things, this "Small Print!" statement
disclaims most of our liability to you. It also tells you how
you may distribute copies of this eBook if you want to.

*BEFORE!* YOU USE OR READ THIS EBOOK
By using or reading any part of this PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm
eBook, you indicate that you understand, agree to and accept
this "Small Print!" statement. If you do not, you can receive
a refund of the money (if any) you paid for this eBook by
sending a request within 30 days of receiving it to the person
you got it from. If you received this eBook on a physical
medium (such as a disk), you must return it with your request.

ABOUT PROJECT GUTENBERG-TM EBOOKS
This PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm eBook, like most PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm eBooks,
is a "public domain" work distributed by Professor Michael S. Hart
through the Project Gutenberg Association (the "Project").
Among other things, this means that no one owns a United States copyright
on or for this work, so the Project (and you!) can copy and
distribute it in the United States without permission and
without paying copyright royalties. Special rules, set forth
below, apply if you wish to copy and distribute this eBook
under the "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark.

Please do not use the "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark to market
any commercial products without permission.

To create these eBooks, the Project expends considerable
efforts to identify, transcribe and proofread public domain
works. Despite these efforts, the Project's eBooks and any
medium they may be on may contain "Defects". Among other
things, Defects may take the form of incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other
intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged
disk or other eBook medium, a computer virus, or computer
codes that damage or cannot be read by your equipment.

LIMITED WARRANTY; DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES
But for the "Right of Replacement or Refund" described below,
[1] Michael Hart and the Foundation (and any other party you may
receive this eBook from as a PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm eBook) disclaims
all liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including
legal fees, and [2] YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE OR
UNDER STRICT LIABILITY, OR FOR BREACH OF WARRANTY OR CONTRACT,
INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE
OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES, EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE
POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.

If you discover a Defect in this eBook within 90 days of
receiving it, you can receive a refund of the money (if any)
you paid for it by sending an explanatory note within that
time to the person you received it from. If you received it
on a physical medium, you must return it with your note, and
such person may choose to alternatively give you a replacement
copy. If you received it electronically, such person may
choose to alternatively give you a second opportunity to
receive it electronically.

THIS EBOOK IS OTHERWISE PROVIDED TO YOU "AS-IS". NO OTHER
WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, ARE MADE TO YOU AS
TO THE EBOOK OR ANY MEDIUM IT MAY BE ON, INCLUDING BUT NOT
LIMITED TO WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A
PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

Some states do not allow disclaimers of implied warranties or
the exclusion or limitation of consequential damages, so the
above disclaimers and exclusions may not apply to you, and you
may have other legal rights.

INDEMNITY
You will indemnify and hold Michael Hart, the Foundation,
and its trustees and agents, and any volunteers associated
with the production and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm
texts harmless, from all liability, cost and expense, including
legal fees, that arise directly or indirectly from any of the
following that you do or cause:  [1] distribution of this eBook,
[2] alteration, modification, or addition to the eBook,
or [3] any Defect.

DISTRIBUTION UNDER "PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm"
You may distribute copies of this eBook electronically, or by
disk, book or any other medium if you either delete this
"Small Print!" and all other references to Project Gutenberg,
or:

[1]  Only give exact copies of it.  Among other things, this
     requires that you do not remove, alter or modify the
     eBook or this "small print!" statement.  You may however,
     if you wish, distribute this eBook in machine readable
     binary, compressed, mark-up, or proprietary form,
     including any form resulting from conversion by word
     processing or hypertext software, but only so long as
     *EITHER*:

     [*]  The eBook, when displayed, is clearly readable, and
          does *not* contain characters other than those
          intended by the author of the work, although tilde
          (~), asterisk (*) and underline (_) characters may
          be used to convey punctuation intended by the
          author, and additional characters may be used to
          indicate hypertext links; OR

     [*]  The eBook may be readily converted by the reader at
          no expense into plain ASCII, EBCDIC or equivalent
          form by the program that displays the eBook (as is
          the case, for instance, with most word processors);
          OR

     [*]  You provide, or agree to also provide on request at
          no additional cost, fee or expense, a copy of the
          eBook in its original plain ASCII form (or in EBCDIC
          or other equivalent proprietary form).

[2]  Honor the eBook refund and replacement provisions of this
     "Small Print!" statement.

[3]  Pay a trademark license fee to the Foundation of 20% of the
     gross profits you derive calculated using the method you
     already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  If you
     don't derive profits, no royalty is due.  Royalties are
     payable to "Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation"
     the 60 days following each date you prepare (or were
     legally required to prepare) your annual (or equivalent
     periodic) tax return.  Please contact us beforehand to
     let us know your plans and to work out the details.

WHAT IF YOU *WANT* TO SEND MONEY EVEN IF YOU DON'T HAVE TO?
Project Gutenberg is dedicated to increasing the number of
public domain and licensed works that can be freely distributed
in machine readable form.

The Project gratefully accepts contributions of money, time,
public domain materials, or royalty free copyright licenses.
Money should be paid to the:
"Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

If you are interested in contributing scanning equipment or
software or other items, please contact Michael Hart at:
hart@pobox.com

[Portions of this eBook's header and trailer may be reprinted only
when distributed free of all fees.  Copyright (C) 2001, 2002 by
Michael S. Hart.  Project Gutenberg is a TradeMark and may not be
used in any sales of Project Gutenberg eBooks or other materials be
they hardware or software or any other related product without
express permission.]

*END THE SMALL PRINT! FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN EBOOKS*Ver.02/11/02*END*


Colophon

This file was acquired from Project Gutenberg, and it is in the public domain. It is re-distributed here as a part of the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts (http://infomotions.com/alex/) by Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.) for the purpose of freely sharing, distributing, and making available works of great literature. Its Infomotions unique identifier is etext5343, and it should be available from the following URL:

http://infomotions.com/etexts/id/etext5343



Infomotions, Inc.

Infomotions Man says, "Give back to the 'Net."