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of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Insists on Puffed Sleeves
was having a bad ten minutes of it. He
had come into the kitchen, in the twilight of a cold, gray December
evening, and had sat down in the woodbox corner to take off his heavy
boots, unconscious of the fact that Anne and a bevy of her schoolmates
were having a practice of "The Fairy Queen" in the sitting room.
Presently they came trooping through the hall and out into the kitchen,
laughing and chattering gaily. They
did not see Matthew, who shrank bashfully back into the shadows beyond the
woodbox with a boot in one hand and a bootjack in the other, and he
watched them shyly for the aforesaid ten minutes as they put on caps and
jackets and talked about the dialogue and the concert. Anne stood among
them, bright eyed and animated as they; but Matthew suddenly became
conscious that there was something about her different from her mates.
And what worried Matthew was that the difference impressed him as
being something that should not exist.
Anne had a brighter face, and bigger, starrier eyes, and more
delicate features than the other; even shy, unobservant Matthew had
learned to take note of these things; but the difference that disturbed
him did not consist in any of these respects.
Then in what did it consist?
was haunted by this question long after the girls had gone, arm in arm,
down the long, hard-frozen lane and Anne had betaken herself to her books.
He could not refer it to Marilla, who, he felt, would be quite sure
to sniff scornfully and remark that the only difference she saw between
Anne and the other girls was that they sometimes kept their tongues quiet
while Anne never did. This, Matthew felt, would be no great help.
had recourse to his pipe that evening to help him study it out, much to
Marilla's disgust. After two
hours of smoking and hard reflection Matthew arrived at a solution of his
problem. Anne was not dressed like the other girls!
more Matthew thought about the matter the more he was convinced that Anne
never had been dressed like the other girls--never since she had come to
Green Gables. Marilla kept her
clothed in plain, dark dresses, all made after the same unvarying pattern.
If Matthew knew there was such a thing as fashion in dress it was as
much as he did; but he was quite sure that Anne's sleeves did not look at
all like the sleeves the other girls wore.
He recalled the cluster of little girls he had seen around her that
evening--all gay in waists of red and blue and pink and white--and he
wondered why Marilla always kept her so plainly and soberly gowned.
course, it must be all right. Marilla
knew best and Marilla was bringing her up.
Probably some wise, inscrutable motive was to be served thereby.
But surely it would do no harm to let the child have one pretty
dress--something like Diana Barry always wore. Matthew decided that he would
give her one; that surely could not be objected to as an unwarranted putting
in of his oar. Christmas was only a fortnight off.
A nice new dress would be the very thing for a present. Matthew, with a sigh of satisfaction, put away his pipe and
went to bed, while Marilla opened all the doors and aired the house.
very next evening Matthew betook himself to Carmody to buy the dress,
determined to get the worst over and have done with it. It would be, he felt
assured, no trifling ordeal. There were some things Matthew could buy and prove himself no
mean bargainer; but he knew he would be at the mercy of shopkeepers when it
came to buying a girl's dress.
much cogitation Matthew resolved to go to Samuel Lawson's store instead of
William Blair's. To be sure, the Cuthberts always had gone to William Blair's;
it was almost as much a matter of conscience with them as to attend the
Presbyterian church and vote Conservative.
But William Blair's two daughters frequently waited on customers
there and Matthew held them in absolute dread.
He could contrive to deal with them when he knew exactly what he
wanted and could point it out; but in such a matter as this, requiring
explanation and consultation, Matthew felt that he must be sure of a man
behind the counter. So he would
go to Lawson's, where Samuel or his son would wait on him.
Matthew did not know that Samuel, in the recent expansion of his
business, had set up a lady clerk also; she was a niece of his wife's and a
very dashing young person indeed, with a huge, drooping pompadour, big,
rolling brown eyes, and a most extensive and bewildering smile.
She was dressed with exceeding smartness and wore several bangle
bracelets that glittered and rattled and tinkled with every movement of her
hands. Matthew was covered with
confusion at finding her there at all; and those bangles completely wrecked
his wits at one fell swoop.
can I do for you this evening, Mr. Cuthbert?" Miss Lucilla Harris
inquired, briskly and ingratiatingly, tapping the counter with both hands.
you any--any--any--well now, say any garden rakes?" stammered Matthew.
Harris looked somewhat surprised, as well she might, to hear a man inquiring
for garden rakes in the middle of December.
believe we have one or two left over," she said, "but they're
upstairs in the lumber room. I'll
go and see." During her
absence Matthew collected his scattered senses for another effort.
Miss Harris returned with the rake and cheerfully inquired: "Anything
else tonight, Mr. Cuthbert?" Matthew
took his courage in both hands and replied:
"Well now, since you suggest it, I might as well--take--that
is--look at--buy some--some hayseed."
Harris had heard Matthew Cuthbert called odd. She now concluded that he was
only keep hayseed in the spring," she explained loftily. "We've
none on hand just now."
certainly--certainly--just as you say," stammered unhappy Matthew,
seizing the rake and making for the door.
At the threshold he recollected that he had not paid for it and he
turned miserably back. While
Miss Harris was counting out his change he rallied his powers for a final
now--if it isn't too much trouble--I might as well--that is--I'd like to
look at--at--some sugar."
or brown?" queried Miss Harris patiently.
now--brown," said Matthew feebly.
a barrel of it over there," said Miss Harris, shaking her bangles at
it. "It's the only kind we
take twenty pounds of it," said Matthew, with beads of perspiration
standing on his forehead.
had driven halfway home before he was his own man again. It had been a
gruesome experience, but it served him right, he thought, for committing the
heresy of going to a strange store. When he reached home he hid the rake in
the tool house, but the sugar he carried in to Marilla.
sugar!" exclaimed Marilla. "Whatever
possessed you to get so much? You
know I never use it except for the hired man's porridge or black fruit cake. Jerry's gone and I've made my cake long ago.
It's not good sugar, either--it's coarse and dark--William Blair
doesn't usually keep sugar like that."
thought it might come in handy sometime," said Matthew, making good his
Matthew came to think the matter over he decided that a woman was required
to cope with the situation. Marilla
was out of the question. Matthew
felt sure she would throw cold water on his project at once.
Remained only Mrs. Lynde; for of no other woman in Avonlea would
Matthew have dared to ask advice. To
Mrs. Lynde he went accordingly, and that good lady promptly took the matter
out of the harassed man's hands.
out a dress for you to give Anne? To
be sure I will. I'm going to Carmody tomorrow and I'll attend to it.
Have you something particular in mind?
No? Well, I'll just go
by my own judgment then. I believe a nice rich brown would just suit Anne, and William
Blair has some new gloria in that's real pretty. Perhaps you'd like me to
make it up for her, too, seeing that if Marilla was to make it Anne would
probably get wind of it before the time and spoil the surprise?
Well, I'll do it. No, it isn't a mite of trouble.
I like sewing. I'll make
it to fit my niece, Jenny Gillis, for she and Anne are as like as two peas
as far as figure goes."
now, I'm much obliged," said Matthew, "and--and--I dunno--but I'd
like--I think they make the sleeves different nowadays to what they used to
be. If it wouldn't be asking
too much I--I'd like them made in the new way."
Of course. You needn't
worry a speck more about it, Matthew. I'll
make it up in the very latest fashion," said Mrs. Lynde.
To herself she added when Matthew had gone:
be a real satisfaction to see that poor child wearing something decent for
once. The way Marilla dresses
her is positively ridiculous, that's what, and I've ached to tell her so
plainly a dozen times. I've held my tongue though, for I can see Marilla doesn't
want advice and she thinks she knows more about bringing children up than I
do for all she's an old maid. But that's always the way. Folks that has brought up children know that there's no hard
and fast method in the world that'll suit every child. But them as never have think it's all as plain and easy as
Rule of Three--just set your three terms down so fashion, and the sum'll
work out correct. But flesh and
blood don't come under the head of arithmetic and that's where Marilla
Cuthbert makes her mistake. I
suppose she's trying to cultivate a spirit of humility in Anne by dressing
her as she does; but it's more likely to cultivate envy and discontent.
I'm sure the child must feel the difference between her clothes and
the other girls'. But to think of Matthew taking notice of it!
That man is waking up after being asleep for over sixty years."
knew all the following fortnight that Matthew had something on his mind, but
what it was she could not guess, until Christmas Eve, when Mrs. Lynde
brought up the new dress. Marilla behaved pretty well on the whole, although
it is very likely she distrusted Mrs. Lynde's diplomatic explanation that
she had made the dress because Matthew was afraid Anne would find out about
it too soon if Marilla made it.
this is what Matthew has been looking so mysterious over and grinning about
to himself for two weeks, is it?" she said a little stiffly but
tolerantly. "I knew he was
up to some foolishness. Well, I must say I don't think Anne needed any more
dresses. I made her three good, warm, serviceable ones this fall, and
anything more is sheer extravagance. There's
enough material in those sleeves alone to make a waist, I declare there is.
You'll just pamper Anne's vanity, Matthew, and she's as vain as a peacock
now. Well, I hope she'll be
satisfied at last, for I know she's been hankering after those silly sleeves
ever since they came in, although she never said a word after the first. The
puffs have been getting bigger and more ridiculous right along; they're as
big as balloons now. Next year
anybody who wears them will have to go through a door sideways."
morning broke on a beautiful white world.
It had been a very mild December and people had looked forward to a
green Christmas; but just enough snow fell softly in the night to
transfigure Avonlea. Anne
peeped out from her frosted gable window with delighted eyes.
The firs in the Haunted Wood were all feathery and wonderful; the
birches and wild cherry trees were outlined in pearl; the plowed fields were
stretches of snowy dimples; and there was a crisp tang in the air that was
glorious. Anne ran downstairs singing until her voice reechoed through Green
Christmas, Marilla! Merry
Christmas, Matthew! Isn't it a lovely Christmas?
I'm so glad it's white. Any other kind of Christmas doesn't seem
real, does it? I don't like green Christmases.
They're not green-- they're just nasty faded browns and grays.
What makes people call them green? Why--why--Matthew, is that for me?
had sheepishly unfolded the dress from its paper swathings and held it out
with a deprecatory glance at Marilla, who feigned to be contemptuously
filling the teapot, but nevertheless watched the scene out of the corner of
her eye with a rather interested air.
took the dress and looked at it in reverent silence.
Oh, how pretty it was--a lovely soft brown gloria with all the gloss
of silk; a skirt with dainty frills and shirrings; a waist elaborately
pintucked in the most fashionable way, with a little ruffle of filmy lace at
the neck. But the sleeves--they
were the crowning glory! Long elbow cuffs, and above them two beautiful puffs divided
by rows of shirring and bows of brown-silk ribbon.
a Christmas present for you, Anne," said Matthew shyly.
"Why--why--Anne, don't you like it?
Well now--well now."
Anne's eyes had suddenly filled with tears.
it! Oh, Matthew!" Anne
laid the dress over a chair and clasped her hands.
"Matthew, it's perfectly exquisite.
Oh, I can never thank you enough.
Look at those sleeves! Oh,
it seems to me this must be a happy dream."
well, let us have breakfast," interrupted Marilla.
"I must say, Anne, I don't think you needed the dress; but since
Matthew has got it for you, see that you take good care of it. There's a
hair ribbon Mrs. Lynde left for you. It's
brown, to match the dress. Come
now, sit in."
don't see how I'm going to eat breakfast," said Anne rapturously.
"Breakfast seems so commonplace at such an exciting moment.
I'd rather feast my eyes on that dress.
I'm so glad that puffed sleeves are still fashionable. It did seem to me that I'd never get over it if they went out
before I had a dress with them. I'd
never have felt quite satisfied, you see.
It was lovely of Mrs. Lynde to give me the ribbon too.
I feel that I ought to be a very good girl indeed. It's at times like
this I'm sorry I'm not a model little girl; and I always resolve that I will
be in future. But somehow it's
hard to carry out your resolutions when irresistible temptations come.
Still, I really will make an extra effort after this."
the commonplace breakfast was over Diana appeared, crossing the white log
bridge in the hollow, a gay little figure in her crimson ulster.
Anne flew down the slope to meet her.
Christmas, Diana! And oh, it's
a wonderful Christmas. I've
something splendid to show you. Matthew
has given me the loveliest dress, with SUCH sleeves.
I couldn't even imagine any nicer."
got something more for you," said Diana breathlessly. "Here-- this
box. Aunt Josephine sent us out
a big box with ever so many things in it--and this is for you.
I'd have brought it over last night, but it didn't come until after
dark, and I never feel very comfortable coming through the Haunted Wood in
the dark now."
opened the box and peeped in. First
a card with "For the Anne-girl and Merry Christmas," written on
it; and then, a pair of the daintiest little kid slippers, with beaded toes
and satin bows and glistening buckles.
said Anne, "Diana, this is too much.
I must be dreaming."
call it providential," said Diana.
"You won't have to borrow Ruby's slippers now, and that's a
blessing, for they're two sizes too big for you, and it would be awful to
hear a fairy shuffling. Josie Pye would be delighted.
Mind you, Rob Wright went home with Gertie Pye from the practice
night before last. Did you ever
hear anything equal to that?"
the Avonlea scholars were in a fever of excitement that day, for the hall
had to be decorated and a last grand rehearsal held.
concert came off in the evening and was a pronounced success. The little
hall was crowded; all the performers did excellently well, but Anne was the
bright particular star of the occasion, as even envy, in the shape of Josie
Pye, dared not deny.
hasn't it been a brilliant evening?" sighed Anne, when it was all over
and she and Diana were walking home together under a dark, starry sky.
went off very well," said Diana practically.
"I guess we must have made as much as ten dollars.
Mind you, Mr. Allan is going to send an account of it to the
Diana, will we really see our names in print?
It makes me thrill to think of it.
Your solo was perfectly elegant, Diana. I felt prouder than you did
when it was encored. I just
said to myself, `It is my dear bosom friend who is so honored.'"
your recitations just brought down the house, Anne. That sad one was simply
I was so nervous, Diana. When
Mr. Allan called out my name I really cannot tell how I ever got up on that
platform. I felt as if a million eyes were looking at me and through
me, and for one dreadful moment I was sure I couldn't begin at all.
Then I thought of my lovely puffed sleeves and took courage.
I knew that I must live up to those sleeves, Diana.
So I started in, and my voice seemed to be coming from ever so far
away. I just felt like a
parrot. It's providential that
I practiced those recitations so often up in the garret, or I'd never have
been able to get through. Did I
groan all right?"
indeed, you groaned lovely," assured Diana.
saw old Mrs. Sloane wiping away tears when I sat down. It was splendid to
think I had touched somebody's heart. It's so romantic to take part in a
concert, isn't it? Oh, it's been a very memorable occasion indeed."
the boys' dialogue fine?" said Diana.
"Gilbert Blythe was just splendid.
Anne, I do think it's awful mean the way you treat Gil.
Wait till I tell you. When
you ran off the platform after the fairy dialogue one of your roses fell out
of your hair. I saw Gil pick it up and put it in his breast pocket.
There now. You're so romantic that I'm sure you ought to be pleased
nothing to me what that person does," said Anne loftily. "I simply
never waste a thought on him, Diana."
night Marilla and Matthew, who had been out to a concert for the first time
in twenty years, sat for a while by the kitchen fire after Anne had gone to
now, I guess our Anne did as well as any of them," said Matthew
she did," admitted Marilla. "She's
a bright child, Matthew. And
she looked real nice too. I've
been kind of opposed to this concert scheme, but I suppose there's no real
harm in it after all. Anyhow, I
was proud of Anne tonight, although I'm not going to tell her so."
now, I was proud of her and I did tell her so 'fore she went upstairs,"
said Matthew. "We must see what we can do for her some of these days,
Marilla. I guess she'll need
something more than Avonlea school by and by."
time enough to think of that," said Marilla.
"She's only thirteen in March.
Though tonight it struck me she was growing quite a big girl.
Mrs. Lynde made that dress a mite too long, and it makes Anne look so
tall. She's quick to learn and
I guess the best thing we can do for her will be to send her to Queen's
after a spell. But nothing need
be said about that for a year or two yet."
now, it'll do no harm to be thinking it over off and on," said Matthew.
"Things like that are all the better for lots of thinking
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