Anne of Green Gables

by: L. M. Montgomery

Chapter XII

Full text Chapter XII

Chapter XII

A Solemn Vow and Promise


IT was not until
the next Friday that Marilla heard the story of the flower-wreathed hat.
She came home from Mrs. Lynde's and called Anne to account.


"Anne, Mrs. Rachel says you went to church last Sunday with your hat
rigged out ridiculous with roses and buttercups. What on earth put you up
to such a caper? A pretty-looking object you must have been!"


"Oh. I know pink and yellow aren't becoming to me," began Anne.


"Becoming fiddlesticks! It was putting flowers on your hat at all, no
matter what color they were, that was ridiculous. You are the most
aggravating child!"


"I don't see why it's any more ridiculous to wear flowers on your hat than
on your dress," protested Anne. "Lots of little girls there had bouquets
pinned on their dresses. What's the difference?"


Marilla was not to be drawn from the safe concrete into dubious paths of
the abstract.


"Don't answer me back like that, Anne. It was very silly of you to do such
a thing. Never let me catch you at such a trick again. Mrs. Rachel says
she thought she would sink through the floor when she saw you come in all
rigged out like that. She couldn't get near enough to tell you to take
them off till it was too late. She says people talked about it something
dreadful. Of course they would think I had no better sense than to let you
go decked out like that."


"Oh, I'm so sorry," said Anne, tears welling into her eyes. "I never
thought you'd mind. The roses and buttercups were so sweet and pretty I
thought they'd look lovely on my hat. Lots of the little girls had
artificial flowers on their hats. I'm afraid I'm going to be a dreadful
trial to you. Maybe you'd better send me back to the asylum. That would be
terrible; I don't think I could endure it; most likely I would go into
consumption; I'm so thin as it is, you see. But that would be better than
being a trial to you."


"Nonsense," said Marilla, vexed at herself for having made the child cry.
"I don't want to send you back to the asylum, I'm sure. All I want is that
you should behave like other little girls and not make yourself
ridiculous. Don't cry any more. I've got some news for you. Diana Barry
came home this afternoon. I'm going up to see if I can borrow a skirt
pattern from Mrs. Barry, and if you like you can come with me and get
acquainted with Diana."


Anne rose to her feet, with clasped hands, the tears still glistening on
her cheeks; the dish towel she had been hemming slipped unheeded to the
floor.


"Oh, Marilla, I'm frightened—now that it has come I'm actually
frightened. What if she shouldn't like me! It would be the most tragical
disappointment of my life."


"Now, don't get into a fluster. And I do wish you wouldn't use such long
words. It sounds so funny in a little girl. I guess Diana 'll like you
well enough. It's her mother you've got to reckon with. If she doesn't
like you it won't matter how much Diana does. If she has heard about your
outburst to Mrs. Lynde and going to church with buttercups round your hat
I don't know what she'll think of you. You must be polite and well
behaved, and don't make any of your startling speeches. For pity's sake,
if the child isn't actually trembling!"


Anne was trembling. Her face was pale and tense.


"Oh, Marilla, you'd be excited, too, if you were going to meet a little
girl you hoped to be your bosom friend and whose mother mightn't like
you," she said as she hastened to get her hat.


They went over to Orchard Slope by the short cut across the brook and up
the firry hill grove. Mrs. Barry came to the kitchen door in answer to
Marilla's knock. She was a tall black-eyed, black-haired woman, with a
very resolute mouth. She had the reputation of being very strict with her
children.


"How do you do, Marilla?" she said cordially. "Come in. And this is the
little girl you have adopted, I suppose?"


"Yes, this is Anne Shirley," said Marilla.


"Spelled with an E," gasped Anne, who, tremulous and excited as she was,
was determined there should be no misunderstanding on that important
point.


Mrs. Barry, not hearing or not comprehending, merely shook hands and said
kindly:


"How are you?"


"I am well in body although considerable rumpled up in spirit, thank you
ma'am," said Anne gravely. Then aside to Marilla in an audible whisper,
"There wasn't anything startling in that, was there, Marilla?"


Diana was sitting on the sofa, reading a book which she dropped when the
callers entered. She was a very pretty little girl, with her mother's
black eyes and hair, and rosy cheeks, and the merry expression which was
her inheritance from her father.


"This is my little girl Diana," said Mrs. Barry. "Diana, you might take
Anne out into the garden and show her your flowers. It will be better for
you than straining your eyes over that book. She reads entirely too much—"
this to Marilla as the little girls went out—"and I can't prevent
her, for her father aids and abets her. She's always poring over a book.
I'm glad she has the prospect of a playmate—perhaps it will take her
more out-of-doors."


Outside in the garden, which was full of mellow sunset light streaming
through the dark old firs to the west of it, stood Anne and Diana, gazing
bashfully at each other over a clump of gorgeous tiger lilies.


The Barry garden was a bowery wilderness of flowers which would have
delighted Anne's heart at any time less fraught with destiny. It was
encircled by huge old willows and tall firs, beneath which flourished
flowers that loved the shade. Prim, right-angled paths neatly bordered
with clamshells, intersected it like moist red ribbons and in the beds
between old-fashioned flowers ran riot. There were rosy bleeding-hearts
and great splendid crimson peonies; white, fragrant narcissi and thorny,
sweet Scotch roses; pink and blue and white columbines and lilac-tinted
Bouncing Bets; clumps of southernwood and ribbon grass and mint; purple
Adam-and-Eve, daffodils, and masses of sweet clover white with its
delicate, fragrant, feathery sprays; scarlet lightning that shot its fiery
lances over prim white musk-flowers; a garden it was where sunshine
lingered and bees hummed, and winds, beguiled into loitering, purred and
rustled.


"Oh, Diana," said Anne at last, clasping her hands and speaking almost in
a whisper, "oh, do you think you can like me a little—enough to be
my bosom friend?"


Diana laughed. Diana always laughed before she spoke.


"Why, I guess so," she said frankly. "I'm awfully glad you've come to live
at Green Gables. It will be jolly to have somebody to play with. There
isn't any other girl who lives near enough to play with, and I've no
sisters big enough."


"Will you swear to be my friend forever and ever?" demanded Anne eagerly.


Diana looked shocked.


"Why it's dreadfully wicked to swear," she said rebukingly.


"Oh no, not my kind of swearing. There are two kinds, you know."


"I never heard of but one kind," said Diana doubtfully.


"There really is another. Oh, it isn't wicked at all. It just means vowing
and promising solemnly."


"Well, I don't mind doing that," agreed Diana, relieved. "How do you do
it?"


"We must join hands—so," said Anne gravely. "It ought to be over
running water. We'll just imagine this path is running water. I'll repeat
the oath first. I solemnly swear to be faithful to my bosom friend, Diana
Barry, as long as the sun and moon shall endure. Now you say it and put my
name in."


Diana repeated the "oath" with a laugh fore and aft. Then she said:


"You're a queer girl, Anne. I heard before that you were queer. But I
believe I'm going to like you real well."


When Marilla and Anne went home Diana went with them as far as the log
bridge. The two little girls walked with their arms about each other. At
the brook they parted with many promises to spend the next afternoon
together.


"Well, did you find Diana a kindred spirit?" asked Marilla as they went up
through the garden of Green Gables.


"Oh yes," sighed Anne, blissfully unconscious of any sarcasm on Marilla's
part. "Oh Marilla, I'm the happiest girl on Prince Edward Island this very
moment. I assure you I'll say my prayers with a right good-will tonight.
Diana and I are going to build a playhouse in Mr. William Bell's birch
grove tomorrow. Can I have those broken pieces of china that are out in
the woodshed? Diana's birthday is in February and mine is in March. Don't
you think that is a very strange coincidence? Diana is going to lend me a
book to read. She says it's perfectly splendid and tremendously exciting.
She's going to show me a place back in the woods where rice lilies grow.
Don't you think Diana has got very soulful eyes? I wish I had soulful
eyes. Diana is going to teach me to sing a song called 'Nelly in the Hazel
Dell.' She's going to give me a picture to put up in my room; it's a
perfectly beautiful picture, she says—a lovely lady in a pale blue
silk dress. A sewing-machine agent gave it to her. I wish I had something
to give Diana. I'm an inch taller than Diana, but she is ever so much
fatter; she says she'd like to be thin because it's so much more graceful,
but I'm afraid she only said it to soothe my feelings. We're going to the
shore some day to gather shells. We have agreed to call the spring down by
the log bridge the Dryad's Bubble. Isn't that a perfectly elegant name? I
read a story once about a spring called that. A dryad is sort of a
grown-up fairy, I think."


"Well, all I hope is you won't talk Diana to death," said Marilla. "But
remember this in all your planning, Anne. You're not going to play all the
time nor most of it. You'll have your work to do and it'll have to be done
first."


Anne's cup of happiness was full, and Matthew caused it to overflow. He
had just got home from a trip to the store at Carmody, and he sheepishly
produced a small parcel from his pocket and handed it to Anne, with a
deprecatory look at Marilla.


"I heard you say you liked chocolate sweeties, so I got you some," he
said.


"Humph," sniffed Marilla. "It'll ruin her teeth and stomach. There, there,
child, don't look so dismal. You can eat those, since Matthew has gone and
got them. He'd better have brought you peppermints. They're wholesomer.
Don't sicken yourself eating all them at once now."


"Oh, no, indeed, I won't," said Anne eagerly. "I'll just eat one tonight,
Marilla. And I can give Diana half of them, can't I? The other half will
taste twice as sweet to me if I give some to her. It's delightful to think
I have something to give her."


"I will say it for the child," said Marilla when Anne had gone to her
gable, "she isn't stingy. I'm glad, for of all faults I detest stinginess
in a child. Dear me, it's only three weeks since she came, and it seems as
if she'd been here always. I can't imagine the place without her. Now,
don't be looking I told-you-so, Matthew. That's bad enough in a woman, but
it isn't to be endured in a man. I'm perfectly willing to own up that I'm
glad I consented to keep the child and that I'm getting fond of her, but
don't you rub it in, Matthew Cuthbert."