The Rev. Dr. Cooper preached in Glen St. Mary the next evening and th_resbyterian Church was crowded with people from near and far. The Reveren_octor was reputed to be a very eloquent speaker; and, bearing in mind the ol_ictum that a minister should take his best clothes to the city and his bes_ermons to the country, he delivered a very scholarly and impressiv_iscourse. But when the folks went home that night it was not of Dr. Cooper'_ermon they talked. They had completely forgotten all about it.
Dr. Cooper had concluded with a fervent appeal, had wiped the perspiratio_rom 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 ol_ashion of taking the collection after the sermon instead of before stil_eld—mainly because the Methodists had adopted the new fashion first, and Mis_ornelia 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, wer_n the point of rising to their feet. The organist had got out the music o_er anthem and the choir had cleared its throat. Suddenly Faith Meredith ros_n the manse pew, walked up to the pulpit platform, and faced the amaze_udience.
Miss Cornelia half rose in her seat and then sat down again. Her pew wa_ar back and it occurred to her that whatever Faith meant to do or say woul_e half done or said before she could reach her. There was no use making th_xhibition worse than it had to be. With an anguished glance at Mrs. Dr.
Blythe, and another at Deacon Warren of the Methodist Church, Miss Corneli_esigned 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 on_f faded pink print. A caticornered rent in the skirt had been darned wit_carlet tracing cotton and the hem had been let down, showing a bright stri_f unfaded pink around the skirt. But Faith was not thinking of her clothes a_ll. She was feeling suddenly nervous. What had seemed easy in imagination wa_ather hard in reality. Confronted by all those staring questioning eye_aith's courage almost failed her. The lights were so bright, the silence s_wesome. She thought she could not speak after all. But she MUST—her fathe_UST be cleared of suspicion. Only—the words would NOT come.
Una's little pearl-pure face gleamed up at her beseechingly from the mans_ew. The Blythe children were lost in amazement. Back under the gallery Fait_aw the sweet graciousness of Miss Rosemary West's smile and the amusement o_iss Ellen's. But none of these helped her. It was Bertie Shakespeare Drew wh_aved the situation. Bertie Shakespeare sat in the front seat of the galler_nd he made a derisive face at Faith. Faith promptly made a dreadful one bac_t him, and, in her anger over being grimaced at by Bertie Shakespeare, forgo_er 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 becaus_verybody will hear it that heard the other. People are saying that Una and _tayed 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 wen_nd changed the prayer-meeting to Wednesday night and then we thought Thursda_as Friday and so on till we thought Saturday was Sunday. Carl was laid u_ick and so was Aunt Martha, so they couldn't put us right. We went to Sunda_chool in all that rain on Saturday and nobody came. And then we thought we'_lean house on Monday and stop old cats from talking about how dirty the mans_as"—general sensation all over the church—"and we did. I shook the rugs i_he Methodist graveyard because it was such a convenient place and not becaus_ meant to be disrespectful of the dead. It isn't the dead folks who have mad_he fuss over this—it's the living folks. And it isn't right for any of you t_lame my father for this, because he was away and didn't know, and anyhow w_hought it was Monday. He's just the best father that ever lived in the worl_nd we love him with all our hearts."
Faith's bravado ebbed out in a sob. She ran down the steps and flashed ou_f the side door of the church. There the friendly starlit, summer nigh_omforted her and the ache went out of her eyes and throat. She felt ver_appy. The dreadful explanation was over and everybody knew now that he_ather wasn't to blame and that she and Una were not so wicked as to hav_leaned house knowingly on Sunday.
Inside the church people gazed blankly at each other, but Thomas Dougla_ose and walked up the aisle with a set face. HIS duty was clear; th_ollection must be taken if the skies fell. Taken it was; the choir sang th_nthem, with a dismal conviction that it fell terribly flat, and Dr. Coope_ave out the concluding hymn and pronounced the benediction with considerabl_ess unction than usual. The Reverend Doctor had a sense of humour and Faith'_erformance tickled him. Besides, John Meredith was well known in Presbyteria_ircles.
Mr. Meredith returned home the next afternoon, but before his coming Fait_ontrived to scandalize Glen St. Mary again. In the reaction from Sunda_vening's intensity and strain she was especially full of what Miss Corneli_ould have called "devilment" on Monday. This led her to dare Walter Blythe t_ide through Main Street on a pig, while she rode another one.
The pigs in question were two tall, lank animals, supposed to belong t_ertie Shakespeare Drew's father, which had been haunting the roadside by th_anse for a couple of weeks. Walter did not want to ride a pig through Gle_t. Mary, but whatever Faith Meredith dared him to do must be done. They tor_own the hill and through the village, Faith bent double with laughter ove_er terrified courser, Walter crimson with shame. They tore past the ministe_imself, just coming home from the station; he, being a little less dreamy an_bstracted than usual—owing to having had a talk on the train with Mis_ornelia who always wakened him up temporarily—noticed them, and thought h_eally must speak to Faith about it and tell her that such conduct was no_eemly. But he had forgotten the trifling incident by the time he reache_ome. They passed Mrs. Alec Davis, who shrieked in horror, and they passe_iss Rosemary West who laughed and sighed. Finally, just before the pig_wooped into Bertie Shakespeare Drew's back yard, never to emerge therefro_gain, so great had been the shock to their nerves—Faith and Walter jumpe_ff, 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 _aven't the heart to be very strict. How hungry for love and fun I was—a_nloved little drudge with never a chance to play! They do have such goo_imes 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 coul_urt those animals. They've been the plague of the neighbourhood this summe_nd the Drews WON'T shut them up. But I'll talk to Walter—if I can keep fro_aughing when I do it."
Miss Cornelia came up to Ingleside that evening to relieve her feeling_ver Sunday night. To her surprise she found that Anne did not view Faith'_erformance in quite the same light as she did.
"I thought there was something brave and pathetic in her getting up ther_efore that churchful of people, to confess," she said. "You could see she wa_rightened to death—yet she was bound to clear her father. I loved her fo_t."
"Oh, of course, the poor child meant well," sighed Miss Cornelia, "but jus_he same it was a terrible thing to do, and is making more talk than th_ouse-cleaning on Sunday. THAT had begun to die away, and this has started i_ll up again. Rosemary West is like you—she said last night as she left th_hurch that it was a plucky thing for Faith to do, but it made her feel sorr_or the child, too. Miss Ellen thought it all a good joke, and said she hadn'_ad as much fun in church for years. Of course THEY don't care—they ar_piscopalians. But we Presbyterians feel it. And there were so many hote_eople 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 b_panked."
"Mrs. Leander Crawford is always crying in church," said Susa_ontemptuously. "She cries over every affecting thing the minister says. Bu_ou do not often see her name on a subscription list, Mrs. Dr. dear. Tear_ome cheaper. She tried to talk to me one day about Aunt Martha being such _irty housekeeper; and I wanted to say, 'Every one knows that YOU have bee_een mixing up cakes in the kitchen wash-pan, Mrs. Leander Crawford!' But _id not say it, Mrs. Dr. dear, because I have too much respect for myself t_ondescend to argue with the likes of her. But I could tell worse things tha_HAT 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 _ould have said? I would have said, 'I have no doubt you would like to span_aith, Mrs. Davis, but you will never have the chance to spank a minister'_aughter either in this world or in that which is to come.'"
"If poor Faith had only been decently dressed," lamented Miss Corneli_gain, "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 clea_hildren. They may be very heedless and reckless, Mrs. Dr. dear, and I am no_aying they are not, but they NEVER forget to wash behind their ears."
"The idea of Faith forgetting what day was Sunday," persisted Mis_ornelia. "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. _on't know what was wrong with him, but I think it very likely he had bee_ating those blueberries that grew in the graveyard. No wonder they made hi_ick. 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 blueberrie_hat 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 a_omebody 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 see_iding on a pig to-day?"
"I saw her. Walter was with her. I gave him a little—a VERY little—scoldin_bout it. He did not say much, but he gave me the impression that it had bee_is idea and that Faith was not to blame."
"I do not not believe THAT, Mrs. Dr. dear," cried Susan, up in arms. "Tha_s just Walter's way—to take the blame on himself. But you know as well as _o, Mrs. Dr. dear, that that blessed child would never have thought of ridin_n 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 pig_id get their come-uppance for once. But the minister's daughter!"
"AND the doctor's son!" said Anne, mimicking Miss Cornelia's tone. Then sh_aughed. "Dear Miss Cornelia, they're only little children. And you KNO_hey've never yet done anything bad—they're just heedless and impulsive—as _as 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 sobernes_s put on like a garment and you're really aching to do something wild an_oung again. Well, I feel encouraged. Somehow, a talk with you always doe_ave that effect on me. Now, when I go to see Barbara Samson, it's just th_pposite. She makes me feel that everything's wrong and always will be. But o_ourse living all your life with a man like Joe Samson wouldn't be exactl_heering."
"It is a very strange thing to think that she married Joe Samson after al_er 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 exactl_all him a beau. He did not really have any intentions. Twenty-one beaus—an_e that never had one! But Barbara went through the woods and picked up th_rooked stick after all. And yet they say her husband can make better bakin_owder biscuits than she can, and she always gets him to make them whe_ompany comes to tea."
"Which reminds ME that I have company coming to tea to-morrow and I must g_ome and set my bread," said Miss Cornelia. "Mary said she could set it and n_oubt she could. But while I live and move and have my being I set my ow_read, 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—thoug_here's more in her than I can fathom. She's a sly puss. If you dug for _housand years you couldn't get to the bottom of that child's mind, believ_E! As for work, I never saw anything like her. She EATS it up. Mrs. Wiley ma_ave been cruel to her, but folks needn't say she made Mary work. Mary's _orn worker. Sometimes I wonder which will wear out first—her legs or he_ongue. I don't have enough to do to keep me out of mischief these days. I'l_e real glad when school opens, for then I'll have something to do again. Mar_oesn't want to go to school, but I put my foot down and said that go sh_ust. I shall NOT have the Methodists saying that I kept her out of schoo_hile I lolled in idleness."