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    Chapter XVI

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    CHAPTER XVI

    Diana Is Invited to Tea with Tragic Results

    OCTOBER was a beautiful month at Green Gables, when the birches
    in the hollow turned as golden as sunshine and the maples behind
    the orchard were royal crimson and the wild cherry trees along
    the lane put on the loveliest shades of dark red and bronzy
    green, while the fields sunned themselves in aftermaths.

    Anne reveled in the world of color about her.

    "Oh, Marilla," she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing
    in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs" 'I'm so glad I live in
    a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we
    just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it? Look at
    these maple branches. Don't they give you a thrill--several
    thrills? I'm going to decorate my room with them."

    "Messy things," said Marilla, whose aesthetic sense was not
    noticeably developed. "You clutter up your room entirely too
    much with out-of-doors stuff, Anne. Bedrooms were made to sleep
    in."

    "Oh, and dream in too, Marilla. And you know one can dream so
    much better in a room where there are pretty things. I'm going
    to put these boughs in the old blue jug and set them on my
    table."

    "Mind you don't drop leaves all over the stairs then. I'm going
    on a meeting of the Aid Society at Carmody this afternoon, Anne,
    and I won't likely be home before dark. You'll have to get
    Matthew and Jerry their supper, so mind you don't forget to put
    the tea to draw until you sit down at the table as you did last
    time."

    "It was dreadful of me to forget," said Anne apologetically, "but
    that was the afternoon I was trying to think of a name for Violet
    Vale and it crowded other things out. Matthew was so good. He
    never scolded a bit. He put the tea down himself and said we
    could wait awhile as well as not. And I told him a lovely fairy
    story while we were waiting, so he didn't find the time long at
    all. It was a beautiful fairy story, Marilla. I forgot the end
    of it, so I made up an end for it myself and Matthew said he
    couldn't tell where the join came in."

    "Matthew would think it all right, Anne, if you took a notion to
    get up and have dinner in the middle of the night. But you keep
    your wits about you this time. And--I don't really know if I'm
    doing right--it may make you more addlepated than ever--but you
    can ask Diana to come over and spend the afternoon with you and
    have tea here."

    "Oh, Marilla!" Anne clasped her hands. "How perfectly lovely!
    You ARE able to imagine things after all or else you'd never have
    understood how I've longed for that very thing. It will seem so
    nice and grown-uppish. No fear of my forgetting to put the tea
    to draw when I have company. Oh, Marilla, can I use the rosebud
    spray tea set?"

    "No, indeed! The rosebud tea set! Well, what next? You know I
    never use that except for the minister or the Aids. You'll put
    down the old brown tea set. But you can open the little yellow
    crock of cherry preserves. It's time it was being used anyhow--I
    believe it's beginning to work. And you can cut some fruit cake
    and have some of the cookies and snaps."

    "I can just imagine myself sitting down at the head of the table
    and pouring out the tea," said Anne, shutting her eyes
    ecstatically. "And asking Diana if she takes sugar! I know she
    doesn't but of course I'll ask her just as if I didn't know. And
    then pressing her to take another piece of fruit cake and another
    helping of preserves. Oh, Marilla, it's a wonderful sensation
    just to think of it. Can I take her into the spare room to lay
    off her hat when she comes? And then into the parlor to sit?"

    "No. The sitting room will do for you and your company. But
    there's a bottle half full of raspberry cordial that was left
    over from the church social the other night. It's on the second
    shelf of the sitting-room closet and you and Diana can have it if
    you like, and a cooky to eat with it along in the afternoon, for
    I daresay Matthew'll be late coming in to tea since he's hauling
    potatoes to the vessel."

    Anne flew down to the hollow, past the Dryad's Bubble and up the
    spruce path to Orchard Slope, to ask Diana to tea. As a result
    just after Marilla had driven off to Carmody, Diana came over,
    dressed in HER second-best dress and looking exactly as it is
    proper to look when asked out to tea. At other times she was
    wont to run into the kitchen without knocking; but now she
    knocked primly at the front door. And when Anne, dressed in her
    second best, as primly opened it, both little girls shook hands
    as gravely as if they had never met before. This unnatural
    solemnity lasted until after Diana had been taken to the east
    gable to lay off her hat and then had sat for ten minutes in the
    sitting room, toes in position.

    "How is your mother?" inquired Anne politely, just as if she had
    not seen Mrs. Barry picking apples that morning in excellent
    health and spirits.

    "She is very well, thank you. I suppose Mr. Cuthbert is hauling
    potatoes to the LILY SANDS this afternoon, is he?" said Diana,
    who had ridden down to Mr. Harmon Andrews's that morning in
    Matthew's cart.

    "Yes. Our potato crop is very good this year. I hope your
    father's crop is good too."

    "It is fairly good, thank you. Have you picked many of your
    apples yet?"

    "Oh, ever so many," said Anne forgetting to be dignified and
    jumping up quickly. "Let's go out to the orchard and get some of
    the Red Sweetings, Diana. Marilla says we can have all that are
    left on the tree. Marilla is a very generous woman. She said we
    could have fruit cake and cherry preserves for tea. But it isn't
    good manners to tell your company what you are going to give them
    to eat, so I won't tell you what she said we could have to drink.
    Only it begins with an R and a C and it's bright red color. I
    love bright red drinks, don't you? They taste twice as good as
    any other color."

    The orchard, with its great sweeping boughs that bent to the
    ground with fruit, proved so delightful that the little girls
    spent most of the afternoon in it, sitting in a grassy corner
    where the frost had spared the green and the mellow autumn
    sunshine lingered warmly, eating apples and talking as hard as
    they could. Diana had much to tell Anne of what went on in
    school. She had to sit with Gertie Pye and she hated it; Gertie
    squeaked her pencil all the time and it just made
    her--Diana's--blood run cold; Ruby Gillis had charmed all her
    warts away, true's you live, with a magic pebble that old Mary
    Joe from the Creek gave her. You had to rub the warts with the
    pebble and then throw it away over your left shoulder at the time
    of the new moon and the warts would all go. Charlie Sloane's
    name was written up with Em White's on the porch wall and Em
    White was AWFUL MAD about it; Sam Boulter had "sassed" Mr.
    Phillips in class and Mr. Phillips whipped him and Sam's father
    came down to the school and dared Mr. Phillips to lay a hand on
    one of his children again; and Mattie Andrews had a new red hood
    and a blue crossover with tassels on it and the airs she put on
    about it were perfectly sickening; and Lizzie Wright didn't speak
    to Mamie Wilson because Mamie Wilson's grown-up sister had cut
    out Lizzie Wright's grown-up sister with her beau; and everybody
    missed Anne so and wished she's come to school again; and Gilbert
    Blythe--

    But Anne didn't want to hear about Gilbert Blythe. She jumped up
    hurriedly and said suppose they go in and have some raspberry
    cordial.

    Anne looked on the second shelf of the room pantry but there was
    no bottle of raspberry cordial there . Search revealed it away
    back on the top shelf. Anne put it on a tray and set it on the
    table with a tumbler.

    "Now, please help yourself, Diana," she said politely. "I don't
    believe I'll have any just now. I don't feel as if I wanted any
    after all those apples."

    Diana poured herself out a tumblerful, looked at its bright-red
    hue admiringly, and then sipped it daintily.

    "That's awfully nice raspberry cordial, Anne," she said. "I
    didn't know raspberry cordial was so nice."

    "I'm real glad you like it. Take as much as you want. I'm going
    to run out and stir the fire up. There are so many
    responsibilities on a person's mind when they're keeping house,
    isn't there?"

    When Anne came back from the kitchen Diana was drinking her
    second glassful of cordial; and, being entreated thereto by Anne,
    she offered no particular objection to the drinking of a third.
    The tumblerfuls were generous ones and the raspberry cordial was
    certainly very nice.

    "The nicest I ever drank," said Diana. "It's ever so much nicer
    than Mrs. Lynde's, although she brags of hers so much. It
    doesn't taste a bit like hers."

    "I should think Marilla's raspberry cordial would prob'ly be much
    nicer than Mrs. Lynde's," said Anne loyally. "Marilla is a
    famous cook. She is trying to teach me to cook but I assure you,
    Diana, it is uphill work. There's so little scope for
    imagination in cookery. You just have to go by rules. The last
    time I made a cake I forgot to put the flour in. I was thinking
    the loveliest story about you and me, Diana. I thought you were
    desperately ill with smallpox and everybody deserted you, but I
    went boldly to your bedside and nursed you back to life; and then
    I took the smallpox and died and I was buried under those poplar
    trees in the graveyard and you planted a rosebush by my grave and
    watered it with your tears; and you never, never forgot the
    friend of your youth who sacrificed her life for you. Oh, it was
    such a pathetic tale, Diana. The tears just rained down over my
    cheeks while I mixed the cake. But I forgot the flour and the
    cake was a dismal failure. Flour is so essential to cakes, you
    know. Marilla was very cross and I don't wonder. I'm a great
    trial to her. She was terribly mortified about the pudding sauce
    last week. We had a plum pudding for dinner on Tuesday and there
    was half the pudding and a pitcherful of sauce left over.
    Marilla said there was enough for another dinner and told me to
    set it on the pantry shelf and cover it. I meant to cover it
    just as much as could be, Diana, but when I carried it in I was
    imagining I was a nun--of course I'm a Protestant but I imagined
    I was a Catholic--taking the veil to bury a broken heart in
    cloistered seclusion; and I forgot all about covering the pudding
    sauce. I thought of it next morning and ran to the pantry.
    Diana, fancy if you can my extreme horror at finding a mouse
    drowned in that pudding sauce! I lifted the mouse out with a
    spoon and threw it out in the yard and then I washed the spoon in
    three waters. Marilla was out milking and I fully intended to
    ask her when she came in if I'd give the sauce to the pigs; but
    when she did come in I was imagining that I was a frost fairy
    going through the woods turning the trees red and yellow,
    whichever they wanted to be, so I never thought about the
    pudding sauce again and Marilla sent me out to pick apples.
    Well, Mr. and Mrs. Chester Ross from Spencervale came here that
    morning. You know they are very stylish people, especially Mrs.
    Chester Ross. When Marilla called me in dinner was all ready and
    everybody was at the table. I tried to be as polite and
    dignified as I could be, for I wanted Mrs. Chester Ross to think
    I was a ladylike little girl even if I wasn't pretty. Everything
    went right until I saw Marilla coming with the plum pudding in
    one hand and the pitcher of pudding sauce WARMED UP, in the other.
    Diana, that was a terrible moment. I remembered everything and I
    just stood up in my place and shrieked out 'Marilla, you mustn't
    use that pudding sauce. There was a mouse drowned in it. I
    forgot to tell you before.' Oh, Diana, I shall never forget that
    awful moment if I live to be a hundred. Mrs. Chester Ross just
    LOOKED at me and I thought I would sink through the floor with
    mortification. She is such a perfect housekeeper and fancy what
    she must have thought of us. Marilla turned red as fire but she
    never said a word--then. She just carried that sauce and
    pudding out and brought in some strawberry preserves. She even
    offered me some, but I couldn't swallow a mouthful. It was like
    heaping coals of fire on my head. After Mrs. Chester Ross went
    away, Marilla gave me a dreadful scolding. Why, Diana, what is
    the matter?"

    Diana had stood up very unsteadily; then she sat down again,
    putting her hands to her head.

    "I'm--I'm awful sick," she said, a little thickly. "I--I--must go
    right home."

    "Oh, you mustn't dream of going home without your tea," cried
    Anne in distress. "I'll get it right off--I'll go and put the
    tea down this very minute."

    "I must go home," repeated Diana, stupidly but determinedly.

    "Let me get you a lunch anyhow," implored Anne. "Let me give you
    a bit of fruit cake and some of the cherry preserves. Lie down
    on the sofa for a little while and you'll be better. Where do
    you feel bad?"

    "I must go home," said Diana, and that was all she would say. In
    vain Anne pleaded.

    "I never heard of company going home without tea," she mourned.
    "Oh, Diana, do you suppose that it's possible you're really
    taking the smallpox? If you are I'll go and nurse you, you can
    depend on that. I'll never forsake you. But I do wish you'd
    stay till after tea. Where do you feel bad?"

    "I'm awful dizzy," said Diana.

    And indeed, she walked very dizzily. Anne, with tears of
    disappointment in her eyes, got Diana's hat and went with her as
    far as the Barry yard fence. Then she wept all the way back to
    Green Gables, where she sorrowfully put the remainder of the
    raspberry cordial back into the pantry and got tea ready for
    Matthew and Jerry, with all the zest gone out of the performance.

    The next day was Sunday and as the rain poured down in torrents
    from dawn till dusk Anne did not stir abroad from Green Gables.
    Monday afternoon Marilla sent her down to Mrs. Lynde's on an
    errand. In a very short space of time Anne came flying back up
    the lane with tears rolling down her cheeks. Into the kitchen
    she dashed and flung herself face downward on the sofa in an
    agony.

    "Whatever has gone wrong now, Anne?" queried Marilla in doubt and
    dismay. "I do hope you haven't gone and been saucy to Mrs. Lynde
    again."

    No answer from Anne save more tears and stormier sobs!

    "Anne Shirley, when I ask you a question I want to be answered.
    Sit right up this very minute and tell me what you are crying
    about."

    Anne sat up, tragedy personified.

    "Mrs. Lynde was up to see Mrs. Barry today and Mrs. Barry was in
    an awful state," she wailed. "She says that I set Diana DRUNK
    Saturday and sent her home in a disgraceful condition. And she
    says I must be a thoroughly bad, wicked little girl and she's
    never, never going to let Diana play with me again. Oh, Marilla,
    I'm just overcome with woe."

    Marilla stared in blank amazement.

    "Set Diana drunk!" she said when she found her voice. "Anne are
    you or Mrs. Barry crazy? What on earth did you give her?"

    "Not a thing but raspberry cordial," sobbed Anne. "I never
    thought raspberry cordial would set people drunk, Marilla--not
    even if they drank three big tumblerfuls as Diana did. Oh, it
    sounds so--so--like Mrs. Thomas's husband! But I didn't mean to
    set her drunk."

    "Drunk fiddlesticks!" said Marilla, marching to the sitting room
    pantry. There on the shelf was a bottle which she at once
    recognized as one containing some of her three-year-old homemade
    currant wine for which she was celebrated in Avonlea, although
    certain of the stricter sort, Mrs. Barry among them, disapproved
    strongly of it. And at the same time Marilla recollected that
    she had put the bottle of raspberry cordial down in the cellar
    instead of in the pantry as she had told Anne.

    She went back to the kitchen with the wine bottle in her hand.
    Her face was twitching in spite of herself.

    "Anne, you certainly have a genius for getting into trouble. You
    went and gave Diana currant wine instead of raspberry cordial.
    Didn't you know the difference yourself?"

    "I never tasted it," said Anne. "I thought it was the cordial.
    I meant to be so--so--hospitable. Diana got awfully sick and had
    to go home. Mrs. Barry told Mrs. Lynde she was simply dead
    drunk. She just laughed silly-like when her mother asked her
    what was the matter and went to sleep and slept for hours. Her
    mother smelled her breath and knew she was drunk. She had a
    fearful headache all day yesterday. Mrs. Barry is so indignant.
    She will never believe but what I did it on purpose."

    "I should think she would better punish Diana for being so greedy
    as to drink three glassfuls of anything," said Marilla shortly.
    "Why, three of those big glasses would have made her sick even if
    it had only been cordial. Well, this story will be a nice handle
    for those folks who are so down on me for making currant wine,
    although I haven't made any for three years ever since I found
    out that the minister didn't approve. I just kept that bottle
    for sickness. There, there, child, don't cry. I can't see as
    you were to blame although I'm sorry it happened so."

    "I must cry," said Anne. "My heart is broken. The stars in their
    courses fight against me, Marilla. Diana and I are parted forever.
    Oh, Marilla, I little dreamed of this when first we swore our vows
    of friendship."

    "Don't be foolish, Anne. Mrs. Barry will think better of it
    when she finds you're not to blame. I suppose she thinks you've
    done it for a silly joke or something of that sort. You'd best
    go up this evening and tell her how it was."

    "My courage fails me at the thought of facing Diana's injured
    mother," sighed Anne. "I wish you'd go, Marilla. You're so much
    more dignified than I am. Likely she'd listen to you quicker
    than to me."

    "Well, I will," said Marilla, reflecting that it would probably
    be the wiser course. "Don't cry any more, Anne. It will be all
    right."

    Marilla had changed her mind about it being all right by the time
    she got back from Orchard Slope. Anne was watching for her
    coming and flew to the porch door to meet her.

    "Oh, Marilla, I know by your face that it's been no use," she
    said sorrowfully. "Mrs. Barry won't forgive me?"

    "Mrs. Barry indeed!" snapped Marilla. "Of all the unreasonable
    women I ever saw she's the worst. I told her it was all a
    mistake and you weren't to blame, but she just simply didn't
    believe me. And she rubbed it well in about my currant wine and
    how I'd always said it couldn't have the least effect on anybody.
    I just told her plainly that currant wine wasn't meant to be
    drunk three tumblerfuls at a time and that if a child I had to do
    with was so greedy I'd sober her up with a right good spanking."

    Marilla whisked into the kitchen, grievously disturbed, leaving a
    very much distracted little soul in the porch behind her.
    Presently Anne stepped out bareheaded into the chill autumn dusk;
    very determinedly and steadily she took her way down through the
    sere clover field over the log bridge and up through the spruce
    grove, lighted by a pale little moon hanging low over the western
    woods. Mrs. Barry, coming to the door in answer to a timid
    knock, found a white-lipped eager-eyed suppliant on the doorstep.

    Her face hardened. Mrs. Barry was a woman of strong prejudices
    and dislikes, and her anger was of the cold, sullen sort which is
    always hardest to overcome. To do her justice, she really
    believed Anne had made Diana drunk out of sheer malice prepense,???
    and she was honestly anxious to preserve her little daughter from
    the contamination of further intimacy with such a child.

    "What do you want?" she said stiffly.

    Anne clasped her hands.

    "Oh, Mrs. Barry, please forgive me. I did not mean
    to--to--intoxicate Diana. How could I? Just imagine if you were
    a poor little orphan girl that kind people had adopted and you
    had just one bosom friend in all the world. Do you think you
    would intoxicate her on purpose? I thought it was only raspberry
    cordial. I was firmly convinced it was raspberry cordial. Oh,
    please don't say that you won't let Diana play with me any more.
    If you do you will cover my life with a dark cloud of woe."

    This speech which would have softened good Mrs. Lynde's heart in
    a twinkling, had no effect on Mrs. Barry except to irritate her
    still more. She was suspicious of Anne's big words and dramatic
    gestures and imagined that the child was making fun of her. So
    she said, coldly and cruelly:

    "I don't think you are a fit little girl for Diana to associate
    with. You'd better go home and behave yourself."

    Anne's lips quivered.

    "Won't you let me see Diana just once to say farewell?" she
    implored.

    "Diana has gone over to Carmody with her father," said Mrs.
    Barry, going in and shutting the door.

    Anne went back to Green Gables calm with despair.

    "My last hope is gone," she told Marilla. "I went up and saw
    Mrs. Barry myself and she treated me very insultingly. Marilla,
    I do NOT think she is a well-bred woman. There is nothing more
    to do except to pray and I haven't much hope that that'll do much
    good because, Marilla, I do not believe that God Himself can do
    very much with such an obstinate person as Mrs. Barry."

    "Anne, you shouldn't say such things" rebuked Marilla, striving
    to overcome that unholy tendency to laughter which she was
    dismayed to find growing upon her. And indeed, when she told the
    whole story to Matthew that night, she did laugh heartily over
    Anne's tribulations.

    But when she slipped into the east gable before going to bed and
    found that Anne had cried herself to sleep an unaccustomed
    softness crept into her face.

    "Poor little soul," she murmured, lifting a loose curl of hair
    from the child's tear-stained face. Then she bent down and
    kissed the flushed cheek on the pillow.
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    Chapter 16
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