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    Chapter XII

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    Chapter 12
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    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 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
    for 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."
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