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    Chapter XVIII

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    Chapter 18
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    CHAPTER XVIII
    Anne to the Rescue

    ALL things great are wound up with all things little. At first
    glance it might not seem that the decision of a certain Canadian
    Premier to include Prince Edward Island in a political tour could
    have much or anything to do with the fortunes of little Anne
    Shirley at Green Gables. But it had.

    It was a January the Premier came, to address his loyal
    supporters and such of his nonsupporters as chose to be present
    at the monster mass meeting held in Charlottetown. Most of the
    Avonlea people were on Premier's side of politics; hence on the
    night of the meeting nearly all the men and a goodly proportion
    of the women had gone to town thirty miles away. Mrs. Rachel
    Lynde had gone too. Mrs. Rachel Lynde was a red-hot politician
    and couldn't have believed that the political rally could be
    carried through without her, although she was on the opposite
    side of politics. So she went to town and took her
    husband--Thomas would be useful in looking after the horse--and
    Marilla Cuthbert with her. Marilla had a sneaking interest in
    politics herself, and as she thought it might be her only chance
    to see a real live Premier, she promptly took it, leaving Anne
    and Matthew to keep house until her return the following day.

    Hence, while Marilla and Mrs. Rachel were enjoying themselves
    hugely at the mass meeting, Anne and Matthew had the cheerful
    kitchen at Green Gables all to themselves. A bright fire was
    glowing in the old-fashioned Waterloo stove and blue-white frost
    crystals were shining on the windowpanes. Matthew nodded over a
    FARMERS' ADVOCATE on the sofa and Anne at the table studied her
    lessons with grim determination, despite sundry wistful glances
    at the clock shelf, where lay a new book that Jane Andrews had
    lent her that day. Jane had assured her that it was warranted to
    produce any number of thrills, or words to that effect, and
    Anne's fingers tingled to reach out for it. But that would mean
    Gilbert Blythe's triumph on the morrow. Anne turned her back on
    the clock shelf and tried to imagine it wasn't there.

    "Matthew, did you ever study geometry when you went to school?"

    "Well now, no, I didn't," said Matthew, coming out of his doze
    with a start.

    "I wish you had," sighed Anne, "because then you'd be able to
    sympathize with me. You can't sympathize properly if you've
    never studied it. It is casting a cloud over my whole life. I'm
    such a dunce at it, Matthew."

    "Well now, I dunno," said Matthew soothingly. "I guess you're
    all right at anything. Mr. Phillips told me last week in
    Blair's store at Carmody that you was the smartest scholar in
    school and was making rapid progress. 'Rapid progress' was his
    very words. There's them as runs down Teddy Phillips and says he
    ain't much of a teacher, but I guess he's all right."

    Matthew would have thought anyone who praised Anne was "all
    right."

    "I'm sure I'd get on better with geometry if only he wouldn't
    change the letters," complained Anne. "I learn the proposition
    off by heart and then he draws it on the blackboard and puts
    different letters from what are in the book and I get all mixed
    up. I don't think a teacher should take such a mean advantage,
    do you? We're studying agriculture now and I've found out at
    last what makes the roads red. It's a great comfort. I wonder
    how Marilla and Mrs. Lynde are enjoying themselves. Mrs. Lynde
    says Canada is going to the dogs the way things are being run at
    Ottawa and that it's an awful warning to the electors. She says
    if women were allowed to vote we would soon see a blessed change.
    What way do you vote, Matthew?"

    "Conservative," said Matthew promptly. To vote Conservative was
    part of Matthew's religion.

    "Then I'm Conservative too," said Anne decidedly. "I'm glad
    because Gil--because some of the boys in school are Grits. I
    guess Mr. Phillips is a Grit too because Prissy Andrews's father
    is one, and Ruby Gillis says that when a man is courting he
    always has to agree with the girl's mother in religion and her
    father in politics. Is that true, Matthew?"

    "Well now, I dunno," said Matthew.

    "Did you ever go courting, Matthew?"

    "Well now, no, I dunno's I ever did," said Matthew, who had
    certainly never thought of such a thing in his whole existence.

    Anne reflected with her chin in her hands.

    "It must be rather interesting, don't you think, Matthew? Ruby
    Gillis says when she grows up she's going to have ever so many
    beaus on the string and have them all crazy about her; but I
    think that would be too exciting. I'd rather have just one in
    his right mind. But Ruby Gillis knows a great deal about such
    matters because she has so many big sisters, and Mrs. Lynde says
    the Gillis girls have gone off like hot cakes. Mr. Phillips
    goes up to see Prissy Andrews nearly every evening. He says it
    is to help her with her lessons but Miranda Sloane is studying
    for Queen's too, and I should think she needed help a lot more
    than Prissy because she's ever so much stupider, but he never
    goes to help her in the evenings at all. There are a great many
    things in this world that I can't understand very well, Matthew."

    "Well now, I dunno as I comprehend them all myself," acknowledged Matthew.

    "Well, I suppose I must finish up my lessons. I won't allow
    myself to open that new book Jane lent me until I'm through. But
    it's a terrible temptation, Matthew. Even when I turn my back on
    it I can see it there just as plain. Jane said she cried herself
    sick over it. I love a book that makes me cry. But I think I'll
    carry that book into the sitting room and lock it in the jam
    closet and give you the key. And you must NOT give it to me,
    Matthew, until my lessons are done, not even if I implore you on
    my bended knees. It's all very well to say resist temptation,
    but it's ever so much easier to resist it if you can't get the
    key. And then shall I run down the cellar and get some russets,
    Matthew? Wouldn't you like some russets?"

    "Well now, I dunno but what I would," said Matthew, who never ate
    russets but knew Anne's weakness for them.

    Just as Anne emerged triumphantly from the cellar with her
    plateful of russets came the sound of flying footsteps on the icy
    board walk outside and the next moment the kitchen door was flung
    open and in rushed Diana Barry, white faced and breathless, with
    a shawl wrapped hastily around her head. Anne promptly let go of
    her candle and plate in her surprise, and plate, candle, and
    apples crashed together down the cellar ladder and were found at
    the bottom embedded in melted grease, the next day, by Marilla,
    who gathered them up and thanked mercy the house hadn't been set
    on fire.

    "Whatever is the matter, Diana?" cried Anne. "Has your mother
    relented at last?"

    "Oh, Anne, do come quick," implored Diana nervously. "Minnie May
    is awful sick--she's got croup. Young Mary Joe says--and Father
    and Mother are away to town and there's nobody to go for the
    doctor. Minnie May is awful bad and Young Mary Joe doesn't know
    what to do--and oh, Anne, I'm so scared!"

    Matthew, without a word, reached out for cap and coat, slipped
    past Diana and away into the darkness of the yard.

    "He's gone to harness the sorrel mare to go to Carmody for the
    doctor," said Anne, who was hurrying on hood and jacket. "I know
    it as well as if he'd said so. Matthew and I are such kindred
    spirits I can read his thoughts without words at all."

    "I don't believe he'll find the doctor at Carmody," sobbed Diana.
    "I know that Dr. Blair went to town and I guess Dr. Spencer
    would go too. Young Mary Joe never saw anybody with croup and
    Mrs. Lynde is away. Oh, Anne!"

    "Don't cry, Di," said Anne cheerily. "I know exactly what to do
    for croup. You forget that Mrs. Hammond had twins three times.
    When you look after three pairs of twins you naturally get a lot
    of experience. They all had croup regularly. Just wait till I
    get the ipecac bottle--you mayn't have any at your house. Come
    on now."

    The two little girls hastened out hand in hand and hurried
    through Lover's Lane and across the crusted field beyond, for the
    snow was too deep to go by the shorter wood way. Anne, although
    sincerely sorry for Minnie May, was far from being insensible to
    the romance of the situation and to the sweetness of once more
    sharing that romance with a kindred spirit.

    The night was clear and frosty, all ebony of shadow and silver of
    snowy slope; big stars were shining over the silent fields; here
    and there the dark pointed firs stood up with snow powdering
    their branches and the wind whistling through them. Anne thought
    it was truly delightful to go skimming through all this mystery
    and loveliness with your bosom friend who had been so long
    estranged.

    Minnie May, aged three, was really very sick. She lay on the
    kitchen sofa feverish and restless, while her hoarse breathing
    could be heard all over the house. Young Mary Joe, a buxom,
    broad-faced French girl from the creek, whom Mrs. Barry had
    engaged to stay with the children during her absence, was
    helpless and bewildered, quite incapable of thinking what to do,
    or doing it if she thought of it.

    Anne went to work with skill and promptness.

    "Minnie May has croup all right; she's pretty bad, but I've seen
    them worse. First we must have lots of hot water. I declare,
    Diana, there isn't more than a cupful in the kettle! There, I've
    filled it up, and, Mary Joe, you may put some wood in the stove.
    I don't want to hurt your feelings but it seems to me you might
    have thought of this before if you'd any imagination. Now, I'll
    undress Minnie May and put her to bed and you try to find some
    soft flannel cloths, Diana. I'm going to give her a dose of
    ipecac first of all."

    Minnie May did not take kindly to the ipecac but Anne had not
    brought up three pairs of twins for nothing. Down that ipecac
    went, not only once, but many times during the long, anxious
    night when the two little girls worked patiently over the
    suffering Minnie May, and Young Mary Joe, honestly anxious to do
    all she could, kept up a roaring fire and heated more water than
    would have been needed for a hospital of croupy babies.

    It was three o'clock when Matthew came with a doctor, for he had
    been obliged to go all the way to Spencervale for one. But the
    pressing need for assistance was past. Minnie May was much
    better and was sleeping soundly.

    "I was awfully near giving up in despair," explained Anne. "She
    got worse and worse until she was sicker than ever the Hammond
    twins were, even the last pair. I actually thought she was going
    to choke to death. I gave her every drop of ipecac in that
    bottle and when the last dose went down I said to myself--not to
    Diana or Young Mary Joe, because I didn't want to worry them any
    more than they were worried, but I had to say it to myself just
    to relieve my feelings--'This is the last lingering hope and I
    fear, tis a vain one.' But in about three minutes she coughed up
    the phlegm and began to get better right away. You must just
    imagine my relief, doctor, because I can't express it in words.
    You know there are some things that cannot be expressed in words."

    "Yes, I know," nodded the doctor. He looked at Anne as if he
    were thinking some things about her that couldn't be expressed in
    words. Later on, however, he expressed them to Mr. and Mrs. Barry.

    "That little redheaded girl they have over at Cuthbert's is as
    smart as they make 'em. I tell you she saved that baby's life,
    for it would have been too late by the time I got there. She
    seems to have a skill and presence of mind perfectly wonderful in
    a child of her age. I never saw anything like the eyes of her
    when she was explaining the case to me."

    Anne had gone home in the wonderful, white-frosted winter
    morning, heavy eyed from loss of sleep, but still talking
    unweariedly to Matthew as they crossed the long white field and
    walked under the glittering fairy arch of the Lover's Lane
    maples.

    "Oh, Matthew, isn't it a wonderful morning? The world looks like
    something God had just imagined for His own pleasure, doesn't it?
    Those trees look as if I could blow them away with a
    breath--pouf! I'm so glad I live in a world where there are white
    frosts, aren't you? And I'm so glad Mrs. Hammond had three pairs
    of twins after all. If she hadn't I mightn't have known what to
    do for Minnie May. I'm real sorry I was ever cross with Mrs.
    Hammond for having twins. But, oh, Matthew, I'm so sleepy. I
    can't go to school. I just know I couldn't keep my eyes open and
    I'd be so stupid. But l hate to stay home, for Gil--some of the
    others will get head of the class, and it's so hard to get up
    again--although of course the harder it is the more satisfaction
    you have when you do get up, haven't you?"

    "Well now, I guess you'll manage all right," said Matthew,
    looking at Anne's white little face and the dark shadows under
    her eyes. "You just go right to bed and have a good sleep. I'll
    do all the chores."

    Anne accordingly went to bed and slept so long and soundly that
    it was well on in the white and rosy winter afternoon when she
    awoke and descended to the kitchen where Marilla, who had arrived
    home in the meantime, was sitting knitting.

    "Oh, did you see the Premier?" exclaimed Anne at once. "What did
    he look like Marilla?"

    "Well, he never got to be Premier on account of his looks," said
    Marilla. "Such a nose as that man had! But he can speak. I was
    proud of being a Conservative. Rachel Lynde, of course, being a
    Liberal, had no use for him. Your dinner is in the oven, Anne,
    and you can get yourself some blue plum preserve out of the
    pantry. I guess you're hungry. Matthew has been telling me
    about last night. I must say it was fortunate you knew what to
    do. I wouldn't have had any idea myself, for I never saw a case
    of croup. There now, never mind talking till you've had your
    dinner. I can tell by the look of you that you're just full
    up with speeches, but they'll keep."

    Marilla had something to tell Anne, but she did not tell it just
    then for she knew if she did Anne's consequent excitement would
    lift her clear out of the region of such material matters as
    appetite or dinner. Not until Anne had finished her saucer of
    blue plums did Marilla say:

    "Mrs. Barry was here this afternoon, Anne. She wanted to see
    you, but I wouldn't wake you up. She says you saved Minnie May's
    life, and she is very sorry she acted as she did in that affair
    of the currant wine. She says she knows now you didn't mean to
    set Diana drunk, and she hopes you'll forgive her and be good
    friends with Diana again. You're to go over this evening if you
    like for Diana can't stir outside the door on account of a bad
    cold she caught last night. Now, Anne Shirley, for pity's sake
    don't fly up into the air."

    The warning seemed not unnecessary, so uplifted and aerial was
    Anne's expression and attitude as she sprang to her feet, her
    face irradiated with the flame of her spirit.

    "Oh, Marilla, can I go right now--without washing my dishes?
    I'll wash them when I come back, but I cannot tie myself down to
    anything so unromantic as dishwashing at this thrilling moment."

    "Yes, yes, run along," said Marilla indulgently. "Anne
    Shirley--are you crazy? Come back this instant and put something
    on you. I might as well call to the wind. She's gone without a
    cap or wrap. Look at her tearing through the orchard with her
    hair streaming. It'll be a mercy if she doesn't catch her death
    of cold."

    Anne came dancing home in the purple winter twilight across the
    snowy places. Afar in the southwest was the great shimmering,
    pearl-like sparkle of an evening star in a sky that was pale
    golden and ethereal rose over gleaming white spaces and dark
    glens of spruce. The tinkles of sleigh bells among the snowy
    hills came like elfin chimes through the frosty air, but their
    music was not sweeter than the song in Anne's heart and on her
    lips.

    "You see before you a perfectly happy person, Marilla," she
    announced. "I'm perfectly happy--yes, in spite of my red hair.
    Just at present I have a soul above red hair. Mrs. Barry kissed
    me and cried and said she was so sorry and she could never repay
    me. I felt fearfully embarrassed, Marilla, but I just said as
    politely as I could, 'I have no hard feelings for you, Mrs.
    Barry. I assure you once for all that I did not mean to
    intoxicate Diana and henceforth I shall cover the past with the
    mantle of oblivion.' That was a pretty dignified way of speaking
    wasn't it, Marilla?

    I felt that I was heaping coals of fire on Mrs. Barry's head.
    And Diana and I had a lovely afternoon. Diana showed me a new
    fancy crochet stitch her aunt over at Carmody taught her. Not a
    soul in Avonlea knows it but us, and we pledged a solemn vow
    never to reveal it to anyone else. Diana gave me a beautiful
    card with a wreath of roses on it and a verse of poetry:

    "If you love me as I love you
    Nothing but death can part us two.

    And that is true, Marilla. We're going to ask Mr. Phillips to
    let us sit together in school again, and Gertie Pye can go with
    Minnie Andrews. We had an elegant tea. Mrs. Barry had the very
    best china set out, Marilla, just as if I was real company. I
    can't tell you what a thrill it gave me. Nobody ever used their
    very best china on my account before. And we had fruit cake and
    pound cake and doughnuts and two kinds of preserves, Marilla.
    And Mrs. Barry asked me if I took tea and said 'Pa, why don't
    you pass the biscuits to Anne?' It must be lovely to be grown up,
    Marilla, when just being treated as if you were is so nice."

    "I don't know about that," said Marilla, with a brief sigh.

    "Well, anyway, when I am grown up," said Anne decidedly, "I'm
    always going to talk to little girls as if they were too, and
    I'll never laugh when they use big words. I know from sorrowful
    experience how that hurts one's feelings. After tea Diana and I
    made taffy. The taffy wasn't very good, I suppose because
    neither Diana nor I had ever made any before. Diana left me to
    stir it while she buttered the plates and I forgot and let it
    burn; and then when we set it out on the platform to cool the cat
    walked over one plate and that had to be thrown away. But the
    making of it was splendid fun. Then when I came home Mrs. Barry
    asked me to come over as often as I could and Diana stood at the
    window and threw kisses to me all the way down to Lover's Lane.
    I assure you, Marilla, that I feel like praying tonight and I'm
    going to think out a special brand-new prayer in honor of the
    occasion."
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    Chapter 18
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