Anne of Green Gables
Entering the Brave New World
(Standard Disclaimers Apply)
The tea shop at Bright River was yet another new experience and as they ordered Anne found herself once again saddened by how little cheer Katherine had known in her life so far. Whilst they waited for their tea and sandwiches, Katherine was keenly looking around her, taking the whole place in. Anne didn’t need telling that Miss Brooke had never been to a tea shop before. It put her in mind of her own first visit and she decided to share the story.
“You know Katherine, I’ve always liked it here, ever since the first time I visited. It was the summer after Minnie Mae Barry had that dose of croup, the Barry’s brought Diana and I here as an end of term treat. We had a high old time that day (though I don’t know whether Mrs. Wright has eaten gooseberry pie since after the heartburn it gave her)!”
Katherine smiled: “You love the Barry’s dearly, don’t you Anne?”
Anne beamed and nodded: “Yes, I do. They’ve been like a second family to me.”
Katherine sighed slightly: “They are very nice; and I very much enjoyed dancing with Diana’s husband. He is quite the gentleman.”
“Well now, I’m not quite sure what Fred would make of
being called that!” Anne laughed. “Though he is very nice and he has made Diana
very happy, for which I shall always be grateful.”
“Milk please.” Katherine replied. “You were right Anne,
Bright River is lovely. Such a busy place. I must admit though, it seems strange
for none of the signs to have the name Pringle on them!”
Yes it does.” Anne giggled. “Are you happy with your paints, Katherine?”
Katherine’s face lit up: “Yes thank you. They are just right.”
Anne smiled approvingly: “Good, then I’ll look forward to seeing what you make of that view you had in mind. It’s a very nice one; although you must come and visit us in the winter. Everything looks very different covered in snow.”
“I’d like that Anne, very much; if Miss Cuthbert will let me.”
Try as she might, Anne just couldn’t hold back a gale of laughter: “Let you! Marilla would scold me from here all the way back to Kingsport if I didn’t have you visit us for Christmas!”
By now Katherine was giggling gently: “Thank you, I’d love that!” Here she poured them both some more tea and became more serious again: “Before you say it Anne, I know there is no rush, but I think I should start looking for somewhere to board. I want to start finding my own life.”
Somewhat surprised by this, Anne set down her tea cup a little unsteadily: “Of course Katherine, you must do what you think best, but please don’t think we want you to leave. If my engagement…”
Katherine shook her head: “No, no, it’s not that;” (even
though it was just a little), “I need to start learning how to be KIB again.”
Her companion soon explained: “KIB, from my initials, Katherine Isabelle Brooke. Once, when I was about nine years old, I stayed with a married distant cousin of my father. I must have been there 6 months I suppose. They were very kind, and KIB was their nickname for me. But then my father’s cousin died in childbirth and I had to move on.”
“Oh Katherine, I’m sorry.” Anne said quietly, know that the barriers would probably go back up if she showed more overt sympathy, and not wanting to pry.
Katherine looked up from where her gaze had been fixed on tablecloth. Her eyes were slightly damp but Anne diplomatically pretended not to notice that as her friend carried on speaking with a slightly forced cheerfulness: “Anyway, I thought having seen the place, I might try here, in Bright River. It’s close enough for us to visit, but far enough for me to learn to stand on my own two feet. What do you think Anne?”
A somewhat stunned Miss Shirley took a couple of seconds to phrase her answer carefully: “I think that if that is what you want, it’ll take a bit of planning, but it’s a very good idea.” she said.
“Then you will help?” Katherine asked, still slightly surprised that Anne was willing to be so charitable, given their history.
“Yes, of course. Though, to be honest, Mrs.. Lynde may be
more use to you. She’s bound to know of somebody out this way who’d be willing
to take in a ‘respectable boarder’. And I ask you, who could be more respectable
than an ex ‘Schoolmarm’!”
“Why Marilla, I was sure you would leave our little
‘circle’ now; what with Anne having no real family to help her sew her trousseau
Routed and indignant Harriet Pye left the gathering as
soon as breeding would allow, ‘an awful headache’ being her excuse and everyone
else bit back their smiles with some difficulty.
“Mr.. Gillis was asking me today if you’d be selling Lancelot, what with you being away at school. He wants to teach his youngest boy to ride.”
It was on Gil’s lips to refuse outright, for he was fond of his horse, but then he had an idea: “Well, I’ll not sell Lancelot (how would I get to ride out when I come home?), but I might be willing to rent him out, in term time.”
Mrs. Blythe looked a little surprised: “That could work I suppose. Mr. Gillis said he’d see you after church on Sunday.”
“Are you going over to Green Gables today?”
“I am, but not until after supper; Anne has taken Miss Brooke to Bright River for the day.” Gilbert answered cheerfully.
“Well, when you do, please invite Miss Cuthbert to supper next Wednesday if she can make it. She and I have barely had the chance to talk since the engagement what with all the comings and goings.”
“I’ll be sure to ask, mother;” Gilbert smiled, “but don’t look so tense, Miss Cuthbert is really quite nice once you get to know her!”
Mrs. Blythe looked far from certain: “I don’t know Gil, she’s always so sharp with both eyes and tongue, and I’d swear she’s never completely forgiven me for marrying your father when she was sweet on him!”
Gil turned away to hide a grin. In the back of his mind he conceded that his mother may well have a point there, but he certainly wasn’t about to tell her that: “Well, why don’t you start doing something practical about it, like, oh I don’t know, planning the menu?”
Without another word Mrs.. Blythe pounced on her cookery
books and Gilbert sighed as he went upstairs to get ready for supper and warn
his father of his mother’s plans. Something told him it was going to be a long
time between now and next Wednesday evening!
“So Johanna Slone is in town is she? We haven’t seen her in these parts since she moved to Toronto 3 winters ago to marry that store-keeper of hers. Too good for small, provincial Avonlea after living in the big city I suppose! I wondered what became of her!”
“Well, it’s Johanna Marshall now Rachel, and as to what became of her, well you can decide that for yourself at church on Sunday.” Anne smiled, knowing full well that Mrs. Lynde would do just exactly that.
If Rachel had been about to retort she was stopped from doing so by Katherine’s rising from the table.
“Excuse me; I’ll just go and give Marilla her Lavender water while I think of it. Mrs. Lynde, can I get you anything as I’m up?”
“Yes please Katherine; could you get the me afghan from the chair in my room? There’s a chill these nights.”
“Hello Katherine. Would you like some tea?” she asked.
“Yes please Miss Cuthbert. I have your Lavender water and your change here for you.”
“Thank you. Leave them on the counter top for me please. Did you enjoy Bright River?”
“Oh yes! It’ll be a lovely place to live.”
Marilla was more than a little surprised: “So, our little Island has caught your heart, has it Katherine?”
“Yes, I suppose it has.” Katherine replied thoughtfully. “Enough for me to want to stay awhile anyway. I was hoping you or Mrs. Lynde might know of a boarding house in Bright River?”
“Well now, we’ll see what we can do.” Here Marilla looked out of the window and saw Gilbert Blythe heading up the road. “Anne! Gilbert’s here!”
Again to Marilla’s surprise, it was Rachel who answered: “She was watching from the window and out before he reached the fence post Marilla. I’m sure it can’t be right to seem so keen!”
By now Marilla was carrying the tea tray into the parlour followed by Katherine: “Leave them be Rachel. They’ve waited longer than enough to be happy.” Here her tone turned from gentle reproach to enthusiasm: “Besides, it turns out we have a lot more to discuss with Miss Brooke than we thought!”
Both Katherine’s and Rachel’s curiosity was piqued by the
statement and Anne’s seeming lack of propriety was forgotten.
“Horribly!” Gil nodded laughing. “But tell me Anne-girl, did you and Katherine have a good time in Bright River?”
“Well apart from missing you like mad to, I had a fine time, and as for Katherine, she likes Bright River so much she wants to move there.”
“No!” Gil exclaimed as he gestured for Anne to sit beside him on ‘their’ tree stump. “This is a tale I have to hear!”
He then listened as intently as ever as Anne told her tale waiting until she was done to comment.
“Well who’d have thought it?” he said shaking his head slightly in disbelief.
“Not me, that’s for sure!” Agreed Anne. “I’ll tell you Gil, you could have knocked me over with a feather when she asked about boarding houses!”
“Oh I don’t know about that Anne Shirley, seems to me it took quite a bit more than a feather to finally sweep you off your feet!”
The arrival of a third voice at first startled them, then had them both jumping to their feet in delight:
“Miss Stacey! Whatever are you doing here?! I thought you were in Boston!” cried Anne joyfully hugging her old teacher tightly.
“Well I was, but then I got an urgent cable from Diana
telling me that my two star pupils had finally come to their senses, done the
decent thing and fallen in love. So the first blessed minute I could I booked a
train ticket and scurried back here to see the miracle for myself!”
“Ooh! Diana will pay for this!” Anne cried in mock outrage.
Gilbert couldn’t help but laughing at this: “Easy Anne-girl! After all, with what you did to her at the bonfire, I’d say ‘turnabout’s fair play’!”
“Gilbert has a point Anne.” Marilla agreed with a wry smile.
“Alright, so now we’re even.” Anne admitted.
“How long will you be in Avonlea Miss Stacey?” Rachel asked, wanting as always to have all the facts.
“Oh two weeks, possibly three. It depends on whether I’m needed to help set up for the new term at KLC. The board have asked, because of my teaching experience, that I take over as Headmistress until the post can be filled permanently.”
Here Katherine reddened: “I’m sorry Miss Stacey; whatever my own feelings, I should never have left the school ‘high and dry’ as I did.”
“Please Miss Brooke don’t trouble yourself.” Muriel
smiled. “In fact, I’m quite looking forward to ‘returning to the fray’.”
Marilla was surprised by this but only someone who’d known her as well as Rachel or Anne had would have been able to tell. “That’s very kind of your mother Gilbert. You may tell her that I accept gladly. Oh, and have her send word by yourself or Anne if she would like me to bring anything.”
“I will. I know she will be very pleased to see you.” Gilbert assured her.
During this conversation Anne had been discreetly watching
Rachel and now couldn’t decide whether Mrs. Lynde was bristling more from
indignation at not having been invited or from curiosity as to what would be
said over dessert. Anne understood however; there were still some things it was
Marilla’s place alone to do and this was one of them. Rachel would realise that
to, once she got over feeling slighted, though she would doubtless huff and puff
a good deal in private first!
“Well, I always knew Miss Muriel Stacey had her favourites. You could see that the minute she picked her Queen’s class; I mean you can’t blame her for wanting to help a poor orphan, but still! After all, she was nowhere to be seen for Alice’s wedding or even the Wright’s wedding, but Anne Shirley only has to get engaged and she drops everything!”
Word of this cruel talk got back to Anne (as of course it was meant to), but she tried not to let it get to her. She and Miss Stacey talked it over a couple of days later on an evening stroll by the Lake of Shining Waters.
“Why do you think some people react so badly to such good news Miss Stacey?” Anne asked.
“I wish I knew Anne, maybe it takes longer to ‘chew over’ that way?” Miss Stacey suggested.
“Hmm maybe; if poor Mrs. Harris was still alive she’d have a colourful answer for me!” The younger woman sighed.
“She would indeed!” Miss Stacey giggled. “Oh, that reminds
me, I got a note from Emmeline this morning.”
“She’s fine, in fact, reading between the lines, I’d say she’s really starting to blossom. She was full of news about visiting her Aunt Pauline. She’s so much more confident now.”
“It’s great to see. Katherine’s changing to; actually, I want your opinion on something there…”
The rest of their walk was spent discussing the
“Miss Stacey, hello.”
“Hello Katherine, how are you today?” Miss Stacey smiled.
“Hello Miss Stacey, I’m fine, you saw Miss Cuthbert on the back porch, but I’m afraid I’m alone just now.”
“That’s fine Katherine; as a matter of fact it’s you I came to see. May I come in please?”
By now, Katherine was so stunned she momentarily forgot
her manners: “What? Why? Oh, of course, come through.” She said, biting down a
surge of panic.
Anne couldn’t have been more surprised if Gil had said Charlie was buying a dragon.
Gil chuckled: “Well, he’s got himself a job in an engineering firm in Halifax, so he’s using the money his grandmother left to buy a car to get him there and back at weekends.” He explained.
“Well, it sounds like a good idea, I suppose, IF it’s safe. You will be careful riding in one, won’t you darling?” Anne said doubtfully.
“Of course Anne, but it’s safe, I promise.” He pacified her with a kiss on the head and an apple.
“And you won’t be late for dinner?”
“I wouldn’t dare!” Gil said honestly.
“Very sensible. Is that why you’re hiding in the apple barn so much lately?” his fiancée teased.
Feeling as though he’d been caught with his hand in the
cookie jar, Gil squirmed: “I’m not hiding Sweetheart, just planning our future
in peace and quiet.”
“Oh, our future, hmm? I have a few ideas on that to but you go first.” She chuckled.
“Well, I suppose the first thing will be getting Green Gables sorted out so that there’s still enough room for us, Marilla and Rachel.” Gil said thoughtfully.
Anne slumped down on a nearby hay-bail frowning as she did so: “I didn’t think of that! one thing I do know though, however awkward it is, I could never sleep anywhere but my gable room.”
“I wouldn’t dream of asking you to; don’t worry darling, we’ll have time to think of something.”
Gil said hoping he was right and moving to stand behind Anne with his hands on her shoulders. They stayed that way for a while, silently being together. Suddenly Anne decided to let Gil in on hers and Miss Stacey’s plan, but not without first swearing him to absolute secrecy. Gil listened carefully to the idea, shaking his head in amazement every now and them.
“Well, when Katherine agrees, it’ll be a superb idea!” was his verdict.
“When? Don’t you mean if Katherine agrees? Hopefully Miss Stacey’s talking to her as we speak.” Anne said, looking doubtfully up at Gilbert.
“No, I mean when, everyone knows you and Muriel Stacey together are unstoppable when you get going!”
With that, Gil offered her his hand to help her up, and he
and Anne went over to the Blythe Farm to await further word of the plan.
“Absolutely certain of it;” Miss Stacey beamed, “Anne told me she knew the blessed minute she saw your work. You know Anne, once she gets an idea in her head nothing will shift it.”
Katherine stood up and walked over to the parlour window, deep in thought: “One question; why didn’t Anne ask me herself?” she asked.
“She didn’t want you to feel obliged to yes just because you are staying here at the moment.” Miss Stacey answered honestly. “She’s over at Gilbert’s house just now.”
“It would be happening anyway?” Katherine queried.
“Certainly. Anne wants to buy herself some time to work on her next book; this was the only way she could get her publisher to agree.”
“How many illustrations would be needed for the second edition?” Katherine was clearly interested.
“That would be between you, Anne and the publisher.” Miss Stacey said carefully.
Miss Stacey saw Miss Brooke’s shoulders had tightened and her heart went over in her chest. Miss Brooke turned around, her old stern look having returned: “Miss Stacey, would you please let Miss Cuthbert know that I have gone to the Blythe Farm?” she asked stiffly before hurrying out of the back door.
“Of course Katherine.” Miss Stacey sighed, hoping the plan
wasn’t headed for total disaster.
“Your poor mother must have out of her mind with worry!” Anne chided.
Gil shook his head: “Actually no, at least not at first; she’d sent to the pharmacy to get father’s medicine so she didn’t miss me for about an hour. I was on the way back when I took a wrong turning. I suppose I just saw all those books and lost track of time. The long words fascinated me to; I couldn’t understand how words could be that long!”
Here John Blythe took up the story: “Meanwhile, Gilbert’s
mother noticed he’d been gone too long and I was almost due for my medicine. She
retraced his steps to the pharmacy, found out he’d been and gone, tried the shop
and the chapel, but there was no sign of him. As you can imagine, she was
frantic. Anyway, to cut a long story very short, we were lucky it was Dr Blair
who found Gilbert and brought him back. My medicine, was a little late but I was
Anne’s heart dropped. She feared this was going to be another spat with Katherine and she didn’t have the energy for that.
“I’d better walk her home Gil.” She said turning to her fiancé with some trepidation.
Gil squeezed her hand reassuringly. “Ok I’ll be over
tomorrow evening at seven with the buggy to bring you for dinner, alright?”
“Alright; if I still have my head on my shoulders!” she
giggled nervously, settling her shawl, saying hurried goodbyes and heading out
When Miss Brooke turned around Anne’s heart sank again. The bespectacled lady was all Brooke, there wasn’t a trace of KIB in her eyes: “Miss Shirley. Miss Stacey came to see me this evening. She told me about your business proposal. I have just one question for now; am I REALLY still so frightening that you couldn’t talk to me yourself?”
Anne formulated her answer VERY carefully: “Well, I didn’t want you to feel obliged to say yes just because you’re staying with us for now, and if I can be frank, I’ve only met KIB a few times still and I wasn’t totally sure if she’d stay around.” She waited.
Katherine stood there for a few seconds, taking the reply in and then said: “KIB is getting stronger though? I’m trying really hard, you know.”
Anne’s heart softened a little and she felt just a little guilty: “I know Katherine, believe me and it’s working. I do need an illustrator, the publisher told me so when I was in Kingsport; this isn’t charity, I’ll show the letter if you like. I need an illustrator and you’re a talented artist; it’s as simple as that.”
KIB made a tentative appearance: “I wouldn’t have to go back to Kingsport, would I? I’m not ready for that yet.” She shivered.
Anne shook her auburn head: “No, at least not yet. Our first project would be a second edition of my Avonlea book.”
“In that case, arrange a meeting with the publisher and see what they have to say.” KIB smiled.
Anne smiled with relief, shook hands on the deal and they
headed back to Green Gables to inform an anxious Miss Stacey of the decision.
“Yes thank you Rachel, did you?” Anne asked setting out the breakfast things.
“I did.” Mrs. Lynde said, sounding a little surprised by this as always: “I was tired from such a busy day yesterday I think. I wrote several letters on Katherine’s behalf and posted them. I think either Mrs. Hester King or Mrs. Amelia Lawson may be able to help her.”
Anne nodded: “Either of those would be ideal, I think. I haven’t met Mrs. King but Mrs. Lawson is very nice.”
“As you say.” Rachel agreed. “Oh good morning Marilla, Katherine.”
The two women greeted both Anne and Rachel and all four
sat down to breakfast.
Anne giggled: “Of course, I should have thought of that! I’ll get you one in a minute. Marilla, is there anything you need me to do today?”
Miss Cuthbert thought for a second: “Nothing unusual, no. Today’s no day to worry about that paddock fence.” She smiled at Anne, her thoughts clearly on that evening.
Rachel sniffed pointedly.
KIB picked up on this and spoke up: “Mrs. Lynde? I thought this evening you might be kind enough to show me how to make that fine meat pie of yours? I’ll need to know how to cook a few things if I’m to fend for myself.”
Rachel smiled: “Thank you Katherine, I’d be happy to help. May we use the kitchen please, Marilla? My small stove will never do for a demonstration.”
Only Anne saw Rachel cast a glance heavenward but she could hardly refuse in the circumstances: “Of course Rachel, you know where everything is and goes, don’t you?”
“Of course.” Said Rachel, with just the merest hint of both slight and triumph in her voice. “Your kitchen will be found just as you left it Marilla, never fear.”
By now both Anne and Marilla were now busily clearing the
table and avoiding all eyes. After that Anne got KIB her book and they both went
out onto the front porch, Anne to write and KIB to read.
“Well now child, I don’t about know your ‘elegant’, but you look mighty smart yourself and as for the brooch I just thought I’d better wear it rather than risk having stolen whilst we are out!”
Both women chuckled at the memory that brought back.
Just then Rachel put her head around her bedroom door:
“Gilbert has just come around the corner of the lane. Have a nice time.”
“Ready Marilla; good night Rachel, Katherine.”
With that, they were gone.
“Hello Gilbert. How are you today? I see you survived your ‘adventure’ with a motor car. Yes, Anne told me all about it.” Marilla smiled, making it clear that she was unsure of the wisdom of such machines.
“I’m fine thank you Miss Cuthbert. Hello Anne.”
“Gil.” Anne smiled prettily, accepting his hand and being helped in to the buggy beside Marilla. “Did Charlie choose his motor car then?”
“Yes he did and he’s mighty pleased with it. He’ll have to wait until next month to get it though and then he goes to Toronto to collect it. It’s a fine thing but I’m not sure it’s worth all this trouble to get. I’m happy with the buggy, my bicycle and Lancelot. The telephone we saw, now that’s another matter…”
Most of the rest of the journey to the Blythe farm was
taken up with his explanation.