Anne of Green Gables
Marilla … had, as I have told you, the glimmerings of a sense of humor – which is simply another name for a sense of the fitness of things.
“Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” … “Oh, don’t you see, Marilla? There must be a limit to the mistakes one person can make, and when I get to the end of them, then I’ll be through with them. That’s a very comforting thought.”
“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 and put it in his breast pocket. There, now. You’re so romantic that I’m sure you ought to be pleased at that.”
“Oh, but it’s good to be alive and to be going home,” breathed Anne.
Anne of Avonlea
“If you went to your own room at midnight, locked the door, pulled down the blind, and sneezed, Mrs. Lynde would ask you the next day how your cold was!”
Eliza was sewing patchwork, not because it was needed but simply as a protest against the frivolous lace Catherine was crocheting.
“I was just trying to write out some of my thoughts, as Professor Hamilton advised me, but I couldn’t get them to please me. They seem so stiff and foolish directly they’re written down on white paper with black ink. Fancies are like shadows… you can’t cage them, they’re such wayward, dancing things…”
“It does people good to have to do things they don’t like … in moderation.” – – Mr. Harrison
“… You must excuse me, Anne. I’ve got a habit of being outspoken and folks mustn’t mind it.”
“But they can’t help minding it. And I don’t think it’s any help that it’s your habit. What would you think of a person who went about sticking pins and needles into people and saying ‘Excuse me, you mustn’t mind it … it’s just a habit I’ve got.’ You’d think he was crazy, wouldn’t you?”
“Well, I should like to see you go to college, Anne; but if you never do, don’t be discontented about it. We make our own lives wherever we are, after all … college can only help us to do it more easily. They are broad or narrow according to what we put into them, not what we get out. Life is rich and full here … everywhere … if we can only learn how to open our whole hearts to its richness and fullness.”
“I think I understand what you mean,” said Anne thoughtfully, “and I know I have so much to feel thankful for … oh, so much … my work, and Paul Irving, and the dear twins, and all my friends. Do you know, Mrs. Allan, I’m so thankful for friendship. It beautifies life so much.”
“True friendship is a very helpful thing indeed,” said Mrs. Allan, “and we should have a very high ideal of it, and never sully it by any failure in truth and sincerity. I fear the name of friendship is often degraded to a kind of intimacy that has nothing of real friendship in it.”
“Yes … like Gertie Pye’s and Julia Bell’s. They are very intimate and go everywhere together; but Gertie is always saying nasty things of Julia behind her back and everybody thinks she is jealous of her because she is always so pleased when anybody criticizes Julia. I think it is desecration to call that friendship. If we have friends we should look only for the best in them and give them the best that is in us, don’t you think? Then friendship would be the most beautiful thing in the world.”
“I know I’m too much inclined that, way” agreed Anne ruefully. “When I think something nice is going to happen I seem to fly right up on the wings of anticipation; and then the first thing I realize I drop down to earth with a thud. But really, Marilla, the flying part is glorious as long as it lasts … it’s like soaring through a sunset. I think it almost pays for the thud.”
“Well, maybe it does,” admitted Marilla. “I’d rather walk calmly along and do without both flying and thud. But everybody has her own way of living … I used to think there was only one right way … but since I’ve had you and the twins to bring up I don’t feel so sure of it.”
“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
“Oh, I suppose the dying would be easy enough; it’s the living an old maid I shouldn’t like,” said Diana, with no intention of being humorous. “Although I wouldn’t mind being an old maid very much if I could be one like Miss Lavendar. But I never could be. When I’m forty-five I’ll be horribly fat. And while there might be some romance about a thin old maid there couldn’t possibly be any about a fat one.”
“…How sympathetic you look, Anne… as sympathetic as only seventeen can look. But don’t overdo it. I’m really a very happy, contented little person in spite of my broken heart. My heart did break, if ever a heart did, when I realized Stephen Irving was not coming back. But, Anne, a broken heart in real life isn’t half as dreadful as it is in books. It’s a good deal like a bad tooth … though you won’t think that a very romantic simile. It takes spells of aching and gives you a sleepless night now and then, but between times it lets you enjoy life and dreams and echoes and peanut-candy as if there were nothing the matter with it. And now you’re looking disappointed. You don’t think I’m half as interesting a person as you did five minutes ago when you believed I was always the prey of a tragic memory bravely hidden beneath external smiles. That’s the worst … or the best… of real life, Anne. It won’t let you be miserable. It keeps on trying to make you comfortable… and succeeding… even when you’re determined to be unhappy and romantic…
– Miss Lavendar
Some are born old maids, some achieve old maidenhood, and some have old maidenhood thrust upon them.
– Miss Lavendar
“Why don’t you get married, Marilla? I want to know.”
Marilla’s state of single blessedness had never been a sore point with her, so she answered amiably, with an exchange of significant looks with Anne, that she supposed it was because nobody would have her.
“But maybe you never asked anybody to have you,” protested Davy.
“Oh, Davy,” said Dora primly, shocked into speaking without being spoken to, “it’s the men that have to do the asking.”
“I don’t know why they have to do it always,” grumbled Davy. “Seems to me everything’s put on the men in this world. Can I have some more pudding, Marilla?”
“You’ve had as much as was good for you,” said Marilla; but she gave him a moderate second helping.
“I wish people could live on pudding. Why can’t they, Marilla? I want to know.”
“Because they’d soon get tired of it.”
“I’d like to try that for myself,” said skeptical Davy. “But I guess it’s better to have pudding only on fish and company days than none at all. They never have any at Milty Boulter’s. Milty says when company comes his mother gives them cheese and cuts it herself … one little bit apiece and one over for manners.”
“If Milty Boulter talks like that about his mother at least you needn’t repeat it,” said Marilla severely.
“Bless my soul,”. . .Davy had picked this expression up from Mr. Harrison and used it with great gusto. . .”Milty meant it as a compelment. He’s awful proud of his mother, cause folks say she could scratch a living on a rock.”
“I. . .I suppose them pesky hens are in my pansy bed again,” said Marilla, rising and going out hurriedly.
The slandered hens were nowhere near the pansy bed and Marilla did not even glance at it. Instead, she sat down on the cellar hatch and laughed until she was ashamed of herself.
“I can’t see that it’s so terribly romantic at all,” said Marilla rather crisply. Marilla thought Anne was too worked up about it and had plenty to do with getting ready for college without “traipsing” to Echo Lodge two days out of three helping Miss Lavendar. “In the first place two young fools quarrel and turn sulky; then Steve Irving goes to the States and after a spell gets married up there and is perfectly happy from all accounts. Then his wife dies and after a decent interval he thinks he’ll come home and see if his first fancy’ll have him. Meanwhile, she’s been living single, probably because nobody nice enough came along to want her, and they meet and agree to be married after all. Now, where is the romance in all that?”
“Oh, there isn’t any, when you put it that way,” gasped Anne, rather as if somebody had thrown cold water over her. “I suppose that’s how it looks in prose. But it’s very different if you look at it through poetry … and I think it’s nicer…” Anne recovered herself and her eyes shone and her cheeks flushed … “to look at it through poetry.”
Anne had no sooner uttered the phrase “home o’ dreams” than it captivated her fancy and she immediately began the erection of one of her own. It was, of course, tenanted by an ideal master, dark, proud, and melancholy, but oddly enough, Gilbert Blythe persisted in hanging about too, helping her arrange pictures, lay out gardens, and accomplish sundry other tasks which a proud and melancholy hero evidently considered beneath his dignity.
“Changes ain’t totally pleasant but they’re excellent things,” said Mr. Harrison philosophically. “Two years is about long enough for things to stay exactly the same. If they stayed put any longer they might grow mossy.”
“Yes, it’s beautiful,” said Gilbert, looking steadily down into Anne’s uplifted face, “but wouldn’t it have been more beautiful still, Anne, if there had been no separation or misunderstanding … if they had come hand in hand all the way through life, with no memories behind them but those which belonged to each other?”
For a moment Anne’s heart fluttered queerly and for the first time her eyes faltered under Gilbert’s gaze and a rosy flush stained the paleness of her face. It was as if a veil that had hung before her inner consciousness had been lifted, giving to her view a revelation of unsuspected feelings and realities. Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps … perhaps … love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.
Then the veil dropped again; but the Anne who walked up the dark lane was not quite the same Anne who had driven gaily down it the evening before. The page of girlhood had been turned, as by an unseen finger, and the page of womanhood was before her with all its charm and mystery, its pain and gladness.
Anne of the Island
“Do you remember what Dr. Davis said last Sunday evening – that the sorrows God sends us brought comfort and strength with them while the sorrows we brought on ourselves, through folly or wickedness, were by far the hardest to bear?”
… the fight between the Shannon and the Chesapeake…
Out of the mist came a great frigate, brilliant with “the meteor flag of England.” Behind her was another, with a still, heroic form, wrapped in his own starry flag, lying on the quarterdeck – the gallant Lawrence. Time’s finger had turned back his pages, and that was the Shannon sailing triumphant up the bay with the Chesapeake as her prize.
“Come back, Anne Shirley – come back,” laughed Philippa, pulling her arm. “You’re a hundred years away from us. Come back.”
Anne came back with a sigh; her eyes were shining softly.
“I’ve always loved that old story,” she said, “and although the English won that victory, I think it was because of the brave, defeated commander that I love it. This grave seems to bring it so near and make it so real. This poor little middy was only eighteen. He ‘died of desperate wounds received in gallant action’ – so reads his epitaph. It is such as a solder might wish for.”
Before she turned away, Anne unpinned the little cluster of purple pansies she wore and dropped it softly on the grave of the boy who had perished in the great sea-duel.
For the next fortnight Anne writhed or reveled, according to mood, at her literary pursuits. Now she would be jubilant over a brilliant idea, now despairing because some contrary character would not behave properly. Diana could not understand this.
“Make them do as you want them to,” she said.
“I can’t,” mourned Anne. “Averil is such an unmanageable heroine. She will do and say things I never meant her to. Then that spoils everything that went before and I have to write it all over again.”
“I wouldn’t give up altogether,” said Mr. Harrison reflectively. “I’d write a story once in a while, but I wouldn’t pester editors with it. I’d write of people and places like I knew, and I’d make my characters talk everyday English; and I’d let the sun rise and set in the usual quiet way without much fuss over the fact. If I had to have villains and all, I’d give them a chance, Anne – I’d give them a chance. There are some terrible bad men in the world, I suppose, but you’d have to go a long piece to find them – though Mrs. Lynde believes we’re all bad. But most of us have got a little decency somewhere in us. Keep on writing, Anne.”
“Jog along, black mare.”
“Anne, this is certainly your night for looking handsome. Nine nights out of ten I can easily outshine you. The tenth you blossom out suddenly into something that eclipses me altogether. How do you manage it?”
“It’s the dress, dear. Fine feathers.”
“‘Tisn’t. The last evening you flamed out into beauty you wore your old blue flannel shirtwaist that Mrs. Lynde made you…”
“…Jo has given me a splendid rule. He says, when I’m perplexed, just do what I would wish I had done when I shall be eighty.” – Phil
“And this is the girl who would never marry a man who wasn’t rich,” commented Anne to a young pine tree.
“There is a man in Bolingbroke who lisps and always testifies in prayer-meeting. He says, ‘If you can’t thine like an electric thtar, thine like a candlethtick.’ I’ll be Jo’s little candlestick.” – Phil
“We’ve learned the truth of what Professor Woodleigh taught us last Philomathic,” said Phil. “He said ‘Humor is the spiciest condiment in the feast of existence. Laugh at your mistakes but learn from them, joke over your troubles but gather strength from them, make a jest of your difficulties but overcome them.’ Isn’t’ that worth learning, Aunt Jimsie?”
“Yes, it is, dearie. When you’ve learned to laugh at the things that should be laughed at, and not to laugh at those that shouldn’t, you’ve got wisdom and understanding.”
“I shall have to fall back on another of Professor Woodleigh’s quotations to express what it has done for me,” said Priscilla. “You remember what he said in his address, “There is so much in the world for us all if we only have the eyes to see it, and the heart to love it, and the hand to gather it to ourselves – so much in men and women, so much in art and literature, so much everywhere in which to delight, and for which to be thankful…'”
Mary Vance attacked the food ravenously and uncritically, while the manse children stood around and watched her. Jerry noticed that she had a pretty mouth and very nice, even, white teeth. Faith decided, with secret horror, that Mary had not one stitch on her except that ragged, faded dress. Una was full of pure pity, Carl of amused wonder, and all of them of curiosity.
Emily of New Moon
…you proud stuck-up conceited toplofty biped!
The kitten Mike II: A small, charming demon of the night.