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Chapter 11

  • By the end of August Anne was herself again, looking forward to a happ_utumn. Small Bertha Marilla grew in beauty day by day and was a centre o_orship to adoring brothers and sisters.
  • "I thought a baby would be something that yelled all the time," said Jem, rapturously letting the tiny fingers cling around his. "Bertie Shakespear_rew told me so."
  • "I am not doubting that the Drew babies yell all the time, Jem dear," sai_usan. "Yell at the thought of having to be Drews, I presume. But Berth_arilla is an _Ingleside_ baby, Jem dear."
  • "I wish I had been born at Ingleside, Susan," said Jem wistfully. He alway_elt sorry he hadn't been. Di cast it up to him at times.
  • "Don't you find life here rather dull?" an old Queen's classmate fro_harlottetown had asked Anne rather patronizingly one day.
  • Dull! Anne almost laughed in her caller's face. Ingleside dull! With _elicious baby bringing new wonders every day … with visits from Diana an_ittle Elizabeth and Rebecca Dew to be planned for … with Mrs. Sam Ellison o_he Upper Glen on Gilbert's hands with a disease only three people in th_orld had ever been known to have before … with Walter starting to school … with Nan drinking a whole bottle of perfume from Mother's dressing-table … they thought it would kill her but she was never a whit the worse … with _trange black cat having the unheard-of number of ten kittens in the bac_orch … with Shirley locking himself in the bathroom and forgetting how t_nlock it … with the Shrimp getting rolled up in a sheet of fly-paper … wit_unt Mary Maria setting the curtains of her room on fire in the dead of nigh_hile prowling with a candle, and rousing the household with appallin_creams. Life dull!
  • For Aunt Mary Maria was still at Ingleside. Occasionally she would sa_athetically, "Whenever you are tired of me just let me know … I'm used t_ooking after myself." There was only one thing to say to that and of cours_ilbert always said it. Though he did not say it quite as heartily as a_irst. Even Gilbert's "clannishness" was beginning to wear a little thin; h_as realizing rather helplessly … "man-like" as Miss Cornelia sniffed … tha_unt Mary Maria was by way of becoming a bit of a problem in his household. H_had_ ventured one day to give a slight hint as to how houses suffered if lef_oo long without inhabitants; and Aunt Mary Maria agreed with him, calml_emarking that she was thinking of selling her Charlottetown house.
  • "Not a bad idea," encouraged Gilbert. "And I know a very nice little cottag_n town for sale … a friend of mine is going to California … it's very lik_hat one you admired so much where Mrs. Sarah Newman lives … "
  • "But lives _alone,"_ sighed Aunt Mary Maria.
  • "She likes it," said Anne hopefully.
  • "There's something wrong with anyone who likes living alone, Anne," said Aun_ary Maria.
  • Susan repressed a groan with difficulty.
  • Diana came for a week in September. Then Little Elizabeth came … Littl_lizabeth no longer … tall, slender, beautiful Elizabeth now. But still wit_he golden hair and wistful smile. Her father was returning to his office i_aris and Elizabeth was going with him to keep his house. She and Anne too_ong walks around the storied shores of the old harbour, coming home beneat_ilent, watchful autumn stars. They relived the old Windy Poplars life an_etraced their steps in the map of fairyland which Elizabeth still had an_eant to keep forever.
  • "Hanging on the wall of my room wherever I go," she said.
  • One day a wind blew through the Ingleside garden … the first wind of autumn.
  • That night the rose of the sunset was a trifle austere. All at once the summe_ad grown old. The turn of the season had come.
  • "It's early for fall," said Aunt Mary Maria in a tone that implied the fal_ad insulted her.
  • But the fall was beautiful, too. There was the joy of winds blowing in from _arkly blue gulf and the splendour of harvest moons. There were lyric aster_n the Hollow and children laughing in an apple-laden orchard, clear seren_venings on the high hill pastures of the Upper Glen and silvery mackere_kies with dank birds flying across them; and, as the days shortened, littl_rey mists stealing over the dunes and up the harbour.
  • With the falling leaves Rebecca Dew came to Ingleside to make a visit promise_or years. She came for a week but was prevailed upon to stay two … none bein_o urgent as Susan. Susan and Rebecca Dew seemed to discover at first sigh_hat they were kindred spirits … perhaps because they both loved Anne … perhaps because they both hated Aunt Mary Maria.
  • There came an evening in the kitchen when, as the rain dripped down on th_ead leaves outside and the wind cried around the eaves and corners o_ngleside, Susan poured out all her woes to sympathetic Rebecca Dew. Th_octor and his wife had gone out to make a call, the small fry were all cos_n their beds, and Aunt Mary Maria fortunately out of the way with a headache … "just like a band of iron round my brain," she had moaned.
  • "Anyone," remarked Rebecca Dew, opening the oven door and depositing her fee_omfortably in the oven, "who eats as much fried mackerel as that woman di_or supper _deserves_ to have a headache. I do not deny I ate my share … for _ill say, Miss Baker, I never knew anyone who could fry mackerel like you … but I did _not_ eat four pieces."
  • "Miss Dew dear," said Susan earnestly, laying down her knitting and gazin_mploringly into Rebecca's little black eyes, "you have seen something of wha_ary Maria Blythe is like in the time you have been here. But you do not kno_he half … no, nor yet the quarter. Miss Dew dear, I feel that I can trus_ou. May I open my heart to you in strict confidence?"
  • "You may, Miss Baker."
  • "That woman came here in June and it is my opinion she means to stay here th_est of her life. Everyone in this house detests her … even the doctor has n_se for her now, hide it as he will and does. But he is clannish and says hi_ather's cousin must not be made to feel unwelcome in his house. I hav_egged," said Susan, in a tone which seemed to imply she had done it on he_nees, "I have begged Mrs. Dr. to put her foot down and say Mary Maria Blyth_ust go. But Mrs. Dr. is too softhearted … and so we are helpless, Miss Dew … completely helpless."
  • "I wish _I_ had the handling of her," said Rebecca Dew, who had smarte_onsiderably herself under some of Aunt Mary Maria's remarks. "I know as wel_s anyone, Miss Baker, that we must not violate the sacred proprieties o_ospitality, but I assure you, Miss Baker, that I would let her have i_traight."
  • _"I_ could handle her if I did not know my place, Miss Dew. _I_ never forge_hat I am not mistress here. Sometimes, Miss Dew, I say solemnly to myself,
  • 'Susan Baker, are you or are you not a door-mat?' But you know how my hand_re tied. I _cannot_ desert Mrs. Dr. and I _must not_ add to her troubles b_ighting with Mary Maria Blythe. I shall continue to endeavour to do my duty.
  • Because, Miss Dew dear," said Susan solemnly, "I could cheerfully die fo_ither the doctor or his wife. We were such a happy family before she cam_ere, Miss Dew. But she is making our lives miserable and what is to be th_utcome I cannot tell, being no prophetess, Miss Dew. Or rather, I _can_ tell.
  • We will all be driven into lunatic asylums. It is not any one thing, Miss Dew … it is scores of them, Miss Dew … hundreds of them, Miss Dew. You can endur_ne mosquito, Miss Dew … but think of millions of them!"
  • Rebecca Dew thought of them with a mournful shake of her head.
  • "She is always telling Mrs. Dr. how to run her house and what clothes sh_hould wear. She is always watching me … and she says she never saw suc_uarrelsome children. Miss Dew dear, you have seen for yourself that ou_hildren _never_ quarrel … well, hardly ever … "
  • "They are among the most admirable children I have ever seen, Miss Baker."
  • "She snoops and pries … "
  • "I have caught her at it myself, Miss Baker."
  • "She's always getting offended and heart-broken over something but neve_ffended enough to up and leave. She just sits around looking lonely an_eglected until poor Mrs. Dr. is almost distracted. Nothing suits her. If _indow is open she complains of draughts. If they are all shut she says sh_does_ like a little fresh air once in a while. She cannot bear onions … sh_annot even bear the smell of them. She says they make her sick. So Mrs. Dr.
  • says we must not use any. Now," said Susan grandly, "it may be a common tast_o like onions, Miss Dew dear, but we all plead guilty to it at Ingleside."
  • "I am very partial to onions myself," admitted Rebecca Dew.
  • "She cannot bear cats. She says cats give her the creeps. It does not make an_ifference whether she sees them or not. Just to know there is one about th_lace is enough for her. So that poor Shrimp hardly dare show his face in th_ouse. I have never altogether liked cats myself, Miss Dew, but I maintai_hey have a right to wave their own tails. And it is, 'Susan, never forge_hat I cannot eat eggs, please,' or 'Susan, how often must I tell you I canno_at cold toast?' or 'Susan, _some_ people may be able to drink stewed tea bu_ am not in that fortunate class.' Stewed tea, Miss Dew! As if I ever offere_nyone stewed tea!"
  • "Nobody could ever suppose it of you, Miss Baker."
  • "If there is a question that should not be asked she will ask it. She i_ealous because the doctor tells things to his wife before he tells them t_er … and she is always trying to pick news out of him about his patients.
  • Nothing aggravates him so much, Miss Dew. A doctor must know how to hold hi_ongue, as you are well aware. And her tantrums about fire! 'Susan Baker,' sh_ays to me, 'I hope you never light a fire with coal-oil. Or leave oily rag_ying around, Susan. They have been known to cause spontaneous combustion i_ess than an hour. How would you like to stand and watch this house burn down, Susan, knowing it was your fault?' Well, Miss Dew dear, I had my laugh on he_ver _that._ It was that very night she set her curtains on fire and the yell_f her are ringing in my ears yet. And just when the poor doctor had got t_leep after having been up for two nights! What infuriates me most, Miss Dew, is that before she goes anywhere she goes into my pantry and _counts th_ggs._ It takes all my philosophy to refrain from saying, 'Why not count th_poons, too?' Of course the children hate her. Mrs. Dr. is just about worn ou_eeping them from showing it. She actually slapped Nan one day when the docto_nd Mrs. Dr. were both away … _slapped_ her … just because Nan called her 'Mr_efusaleh' … having heard that imp of a Ken Ford saying it."
  • "I'd have slapped _her,"_ said Rebecca Dew viciously.
  • "I told her if she ever did the like again I _would_ slap her. 'An occasiona_panking we do have at Ingleside,' I told her, 'but slapping never, so pu_hat in pickle.' She was sulky and offended for a week but at least she ha_ever dared to lay a finger on one of them since. She loves it when thei_arents punish them, though. 'If _I_ was your mother,' she says to Little Je_ne evening. 'Oh ho, you won't ever be anybody's mother,' said the poor child … driven to it, Miss Dew, absolutely driven to it. The doctor sent him to be_ithout his supper, but who would you suppose, Miss Dew, saw that some wa_muggled up to him later on?"
  • "Ah, now, _who?"_ chortled Rebecca Dew, entering into the spirit of the tale.
  • "It would have broken your heart, Miss Dew, to hear the prayer he put u_fterwards … all off his own bat, 'O God, please forgive me for bein_mpertinent to Aunt Mary Maria. And O God, please help me to be always ver_olite to Aunt Mary Maria.' It brought the tears into my eyes, the poor lamb.
  • I do _not_ hold with irreverence or impertinence from youth to age, Miss De_ear, but I must admit that when Bertie Shakespeare Drew threw a spit-ball a_er one day … it just missed her nose by an inch, Miss Dew … I waylaid him a_he gate on his way home and gave him a bag of doughnuts. Of course I did no_ell him why. He was tickled over it … for doughnuts do not grow on trees, Miss Dew, and Mrs. Second Skimmings never makes them. Nan and Di … I would no_reathe this to a soul but you, Miss Dew … the doctor and his wife never drea_f it or they would put a stop to it … Nan and Di have named their old chin_oll with the split head after Aunt Mary Maria and whenever she scolds the_hey go out and drown her … the doll I mean … in the rainwater hogshead.
  • Many's the jolly drowning we have had, I can assure you. But you could no_elieve what that woman did the other night, Miss Dew."
  • "I'd believe anything of her, Miss Baker."
  • "She would not eat a bite of supper because her feelings had been hurt ove_omething, but she went into the pantry before she went to bed and _ate up _unch I had left for the poor doctor  …_ every crumb, Miss Dew dear. I hop_ou will not think me an infidel, Miss Dew, but I cannot understand why th_ood Lord does not get tired of some people."
  • "You must not allow yourself to lose your sense of humour, Miss Baker," sai_ebecca Dew firmly.
  • "Oh, I am very well aware that there is a comical side to a toad under _arrow, Miss Dew. But the question is, does the toad see it? I am sorry t_ave bothered you with all this, Miss Dew dear, but it has been a grea_elief. I cannot say these things to Mrs. Dr. and I have been feeling latel_hat if I did not find an outlet I would _burst."_
  • "How well I know that feeling, Miss Baker."
  • "And now, Miss Dew dear," said Susan, getting up briskly, "what do you say t_ cup of tea before bed? And a cold chicken leg, Miss Dew?"
  • "I have never denied," said Rebecca Dew, taking her well-baked feet out of th_ven, "that while we should not forget the Higher Things of Life good food i_ pleasant thing in moderation."