A tall, slim
sixteen," with serious gray eyes
and hair which her friends called
auburn, had sat down on the broad
red sandstone doorstep of a Prince
Edward Island farmhouse one ripe
afternoon in August, firmly resolved
to construe so many lines of
But an August afternoon, with
blue hazes scarfing the harvest
slopes, little winds whispering
elfishly in the poplars, and
a dancing slendor of red poppies
outflaming against the dark coppice
of young firs in a corner of
the cherry orchard, was fitter
for dreams than dead languages.
The Virgil soon slipped unheeded
to the ground, and Anne, her
chin propped on her clasped hands,
and her eyes on the splendid
mass of fluffy clouds that were
heaping up just over Mr. J. A.
Harrison's house like a great
white mountain, was far away
in a delicious world where a
certain schoolteacher was doing
a wonderful work, shaping the
destinies of future statesmen,
and inspiring youthful minds
and hearts with high and lofty
To be sure, if you came down
to harsh facts. . .which, it
must be confessed, Anne seldom
did until she had to. . .it did
not seem likely that there was
much promising material for celebrities
in Avonlea school; but you could
never tell what might happen
if a teacher used her influence
for good. Anne had certain rose-tinted
ideals of what a teacher might
accomplish if she only went the
right way about it; and she was
in the midst of a delightful
scene, forty years hence, with
a famous personage. . .just exactly
what he was to be famous for
was left in convenient haziness,
but Anne thought it would be
rather nice to have him a college
president or a Canadian premier.
. .bowing low over her wrinkled
hand and assuring her that it
was she who had first kindled
his ambition, and that all his
success in life was due to the
lessons she had instilled so
long ago in Avonlea school. This
pleasant vision was shattered
by a most unpleasant interruption.
A demure little
Jersey cow came scuttling down
and five seconds later Mr. Harrison
arrived. . .if "arrived" be not
too mild a term to describe the
manner of his irruption into
He bounced over the fence without
waiting to open the gate, and
angrily confronted astonished
Anne, who had risen to her feet
and stood looking at him in some
bewilderment. Mr. Harrison was
their new righthand neighbor
and she had never met him before,
although she had seen him once
In early April,
before Anne had come home from
Robert Bell, whose farm adjoined
the Cuthbert place on the west,
had sold out and moved to Charlottetown.
His farm had been bought by a
certain Mr. J. A. Harrison, whose
name, and the fact that he was
a New Brunswick man, were all
that was known about him. But
before he had been a month in
Avonlea he had won the reputation
of being an odd person. . ."a
crank," Mrs. Rachel Lynde said.
Mrs. Rachel was an outspoken
lady, as those of you who may
have already made her acquaintance
will remember. Mr. Harrison was
certainly different from other
people. . .and that is the essential
characteristic of a crank, as
In the first
place he kept house for himself
and had publicly
stated that he wanted no fools
of women around his diggings.
Feminine Avonlea took its revenge
by the gruesome tales it related
about his house-keeping and cooking.
He had hired little John Henry
Carter of White Sands and John
Henry started the stories. For
one thing, there was never any
stated time for meals in the
Harrison establishment. Mr. Harrison "got
a bite" when he felt hungry,
and if John Henry were around
at the time, he came in for a
share, but if he were not, he
had to wait until Mr. Harrison's
next hungry spell. John Henry
mournfully averred that he would
have starved to death if it wasn't
that he got home on Sundays and
got a good filling up, and that
his mother always gave him a
basket of "grub" to take back
with him on Monday mornings.
As for washing dishes, Mr.
Harrison never made any pretence
of doing it unless a rainy Sunday
came. Then he went to work and
washed them all at once in the
rainwater hogshead, and left
them to drain dry.
Harrison was "close." When
he was asked to subscribe to
the Rev. Mr. Allan's salary he
said he'd wait and see how many
dollars' worth of good he got
out of his preaching first. .
.he didn't believe in buying
a pig in a poke. And when Mrs.
Lynde went to ask for a contribution
to missions. . .and incidentally
to see the inside of the house.
. .he told her there were more
heathens among the old woman
gossips in Avonlea than anywhere
else he knew of, and he'd cheerfully
contribute to a mission for Christianizing
them if she'd undertake it. Mrs.
Rachel got herself away and said
it was a mercy poor Mrs. Robert
Bell was safe in her grave, for
it would have broken her heart
to see the state of her house
in which she used to take so
"Why, she scrubbed the kitchen
floor every second day," Mrs.
Lynde told Marilla Cuthbert indignantly, "and
if you could see it now! I had
to hold up my skirts as I walked
Finally, Mr. Harrison kept
a parrot called Ginger. Nobody
in Avonlea had ever kept a parrot
before; consequently that proceeding
was considered barely respectable.
And such a parrot! If you took
John Henry Carter's word for
it, never was such an unholy
bird. It swore terribly. Mrs.
Carter would have taken John
Henry away at once if she had
been sure she could get another
place for him. Besides, Ginger
had bitten a piece right out
of the back of John Henry's neck
one day when he had stooped down
too near the cage. Mrs. Carter
showed everybody the mark when
the luckless John Henry went
home on Sundays.
All these things flashed through
Anne's mind as Mr. Harrison stood,
quite speechless with wrath apparently,
before her. In his most amiable
mood Mr. Harrison could not have
been considered a handsome man;
he was short and fat and bald;
and now, with his round face
purple with rage and his prominent
blue eyes almost sticking out
of his head, Anne thought he
was really the ugliest person
she had ever seen.
All at once Mr. Harrison found
"I'm not going to put up with
this," he spluttered, "not a
day longer, do you hear, miss.
Bless my soul, this is the third
time, miss. . . the third time!
Patience has ceased to be a virtue,
miss. I warned your aunt the
last time not to let it occur
again. . . and she's let it.
. .she's done it. . .what does
she mean by it, that is what
I want to know. That is what
I'm here about, miss."
"Will you explain what the
trouble is?" asked Anne, in her
most dignified manner. She had
been practicing it considerably
of late to have it in good working
order when school began; but
it had no apparent effect on
the irate J. A. Harrison.
it? Bless my soul, trouble
enough, I should think.
The trouble is, miss, that I
found that Jersey cow of your
aunt's in my oats again, not
half an hour ago. The third time,
mark you. I found her in last
Tuesday and I found her in yesterday.
I came here and told your aunt
not to let it occur again. She
has let it occur again. Where's
your aunt, miss? I just want
to see her for a minute and give
her a piece of my mind. . .a
piece of J. A. Harrison's mind,
"If you mean Miss Marilla Cuthbert,
she is not my aunt, and she has
gone down to East Grafton to
see a distant relative of hers
who is very ill," said Anne,
with due increase of dignity
at every word. "I am very sorry
that my cow should have broken
into your oats. . . she is my
cow and not Miss Cuthbert's.
. .Matthew gave her to me three
years ago when she was a little
calf and he bought her from Mr.
Sorry isn't going to help matters
any. You'd better
go and look at the havoc that
animal has made in my oats. .
.trampled them from center to
"I am very sorry," repeated
Anne firmly, "but perhaps if
you kept your fences in better
repair Dolly might not have broken
in. It is your part of the line
fence that separates your oatfield
from our pasture and I noticed
the other day that it was not
in very good condition."
"My fence is all right," snapped
Mr. Harrison, angrier than ever
at this carrying of the war into
the enemy's country. "The jail
fence couldn't keep a demon of
a cow like that out. And I can
tell you, you redheaded snippet,
that if the cow is yours, as
you say, you'd be better employed
in watching her out of other
people's grain than in sitting
round reading yellowcovered novels,".
. .with a scathing glance at
the innocent tan-colored Virgil
by Anne's feet.
Something at that moment was
red besides Anne's hair. . .which
had always been a tender point
"I'd rather have red hair than
none at all, except a little
fringe round my ears," she flashed.
The shot told, for Mr. Harrison
was really very sensitive about
his bald head. His anger choked
him up again and he could only
glare speechlessly at Anne, who
recovered her temper and followed
up her advantage.
"I can make
allowance for you, Mr. Harrison,
because I have
an imagination. I can easily
imagine how very trying it must
be to find a cow in your oats
and I shall not cherish any hard
feelings against you for the
things you've said. I promise
you that Dolly shall never break
into your oats again. I give
you my word of honor on THAT
"Well, mind you she doesn't," muttered
Mr. Harrison in a somewhat subdued
tone; but he stamped off angrily
enough and Anne heard him growling
to himself until he was out of
Grievously disturbed in mind,
Anne marched across the yard
and shut the naughty Jersey up
in the milking pen.
"She can't possibly get out
of that unless she tears the
fence down," she reflected. "She
looks pretty quiet now. I daresay
she has sickened herself on those
oats. I wish I'd sold her to
Mr. Shearer when he wanted her
last week, but I thought it was
just as well to wait until we
had the auction of the stock
and let them all go together.
I believe it is true about Mr.
Harrison being a crank. Certainly
there's nothing of the kindred
spirit about HIM."
Anne had always a weather eye
open for kindred spirits.
Marilla Cuthbert was driving
into the yard as Anne returned
from the house, and the latter
flew to get tea ready. They discussed
the matter at the tea table.
"I'll be glad when the auction
is over," said Marilla. "It is
too much responsibility having
so much stock about the place
and nobody but that unreliable
Martin to look after them. He
has never come back yet and he
promised that he would certainly
be back last night if I'd give
him the day off to go to his
aunt's funeral. I don't know
how many aunts he has got, I
am sure. That's the fourth that's
died since he hired here a year
ago. I'll be more than thankful
when the crop is in and Mr. Barry
takes over the farm. We'll have
to keep Dolly shut up in the
pen till Martin comes, for she
must be put in the back pasture
and the fences there have to
be fixed. I declare, it is a
world of trouble, as Rachel says.
Here's poor Mary Keith dying
and what is to become of those
two children of hers is more
than I know. She has a brother
in British Columbia and she has
written to him about them, but
she hasn't heard from him yet."
"What are the
children like? How old are
. .they're twins."
"Oh, I've always been especially
interested in twins ever since
Mrs. Hammond had so many," said
Anne eagerly. "Are they pretty?"
you couldn't tell. . .they
were too dirty. Davy
had been out making mud pies
and Dora went out to call him
in. Davy pushed her headfirst
into the biggest pie and then,
because she cried, he got into
it himself and wallowed in it
to show her it was nothing to
cry about. Mary said Dora was
really a very good child but
that Davy was full of mischief.
He has never had any bringing
up you might say. His father
died when he was a baby and Mary
has been sick almost ever since."
"I'm always sorry for children
that have no bringing up," said
Anne soberly. "You know _I_ hadn't
any till you took me in hand.
I hope their uncle will look
after them. Just what relation
is Mrs. Keith to you?"
in the world. It was her husband.
. .he was our
third cousin. There's Mrs. Lynde
coming through the yard. I thought
she'd be up to hear about Mary"
"Don't tell her about Mr. Harrison
and the cow," implored Anne.
Marilla promised; but the promise
was quite unnecessary, for Mrs.
Lynde was no sooner fairly seated
than she said,
"I saw Mr.
Harrison chasing your Jersey
out of his oats today
when I was coming home from Carmody.
I thought he looked pretty mad.
Did he make much of a rumpus?"
Anne and Marilla furtively
exchanged amused smiles. Few
things in Avonlea ever escaped
Mrs. Lynde. It was only that
morning Anne had said,
"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!"
"I believe he did," admitted
Marilla. "I was away. He gave
Anne a piece of his mind."
"I think he is a very disagreeable
man," said Anne, with a resentful
toss of her ruddy head.
"You never said a truer word," said
Mrs. Rachel solemnly. "I knew
there'd be trouble when Robert
Bell sold his place to a New
Brunswick man, that's what. I
don't know what Avonlea is coming
to, with so many strange people
rushing into it. It'll soon not
be safe to go to sleep in our
"Why, what other strangers
are coming in?" asked Marilla.
heard? Well, there's a family
of Donnells, for one
thing. They've rented Peter Sloane's
old house. Peter has hired the
man to run his mill. They belong
down east and nobody knows anything
about them. Then that shiftless
Timothy Cotton family are going
to move up from White Sands and
they'll simply be a burden on
the public. He is in consumption.
. .when he isn't stealing. .
. and his wife is a slack-twisted
creature that can't turn her
hand to a thing. She washes her
dishes SITTING DOWN. Mrs. George
Pye has taken her husband's orphan
nephew, Anthony Pye. He'll be
going to school to you, Anne,
so you many expect trouble, that's
what. And you'll have another
strange pupil, too. Paul Irving
is coming from the States to
live with his grandmother. You
remember his father, Marilla.
. .Stephen Irving, him that jilted
Lavendar Lewis over at Grafton?"
"I don't think
he jilted her. There was a
quarrel. . .I suppose
there was blame on both sides."
he didn't marry her, and she's
been as queer
as possible ever since, they
say. . .living all by herself
in that little stone house she
calls Echo Lodge. Stephen went
off to the States and went into
business with his uncle and married
a Yankee. He's never been home
since, though his mother has
been up to see him once or twice.
His wife died two years ago and
he's sending the boy home to
his mother for a spell. He's
ten years old and I don't know
if he'll be a very desirable
pupil. You can never tell about
Mrs Lynde looked
upon all people who had the
misfortune to be
born or brought up elsewhere
than in Prince Edward Island
with a decided can-any-good-thing-come-out-of-Nazareth
air. They MIGHT be good people,
of course; but you were on the
safe side in doubting it. She
had a special prejudice against "Yankees." Her
husband had been cheated out
of ten dollars by an employer
for whom he had once worked in
Boston and neither angels nor
principalities nor powers could
have convinced Mrs. Rachel that
the whole United States was not
responsible for it.
"Avonlea school won't be the
worse for a little new blood," said
Marilla drily, "and if this boy
is anything like his father he'll
be all right. Steve Irving was
the nicest boy that was ever
raised in these parts, though
some people did call him proud.
I should think Mrs. Irving would
be very glad to have the child.
She has been very lonesome since
her husband died."
"Oh, the boy may be well enough,
but he'll be different from Avonlea
children," said Mrs. Rachel,
as if that clinched the matter.
Mrs. Rachel's opinions concerning
any person, place, or thing,
were always warranted to wear. "What's
this I hear about your going
to start up a Village Improvement
"I was just talking it over
with some of the girls and boys
at the last Debating Club," said
Anne, flushing. "They thought
it would be rather nice. . .and
so do Mr. and Mrs. Allan. Lots
of villages have them now."
get into no end of hot water
if you do. Better
leave it alone, Anne, that's
what. People don't like being
"Oh, we are
not going to try to improve
the PEOPLE. It is
Avonlea itself. There are lots
of things which might be done
to make it prettier. For instance,
if we could coax Mr. Levi Boulter
to pull down that dreadful old
house on his upper farm wouldn't
that be an improvement?"
"It certainly would," admitted
Mrs. Rachel. "That old ruin has
been an eyesore to the settlement
for years. But if you Improvers
can coax Levi Boulter to do anything
for the public that he isn't
to be paid for doing, may I be
there to see and hear the process,
that's what. I don't want to
discourage you, Anne, for there
may be something in your idea,
though I suppose you did get
it out of some rubbishy Yankee
magazine; but you'll have your
hands full with your school and
I advise you as a friend not
to bother with your improvements,
that's what. But there, I know
you'll go ahead with it if you've
set your mind on it. You were
always one to carry a thing through
the firm outlines of Anne's
lips told that Mrs.
Rachel was not far astray in
this estimate. Anne's heart was
bent on forming the Improvement
Society. Gilbert Blythe, who
was to teach in White Sands but
would always be home from Friday
night to Monday morning, was
enthusiastic about it; and most
of the other folks were willing
to go in for anything that meant
occasional meetings and consequently
some "fun." As for what the "improvements" were
to be, nobody had any very clear
idea except Anne and Gilbert.
They had talked them over and
planned them out until an ideal
Avonlea existed in their minds,
if nowhere else.
Mrs. Rachel had still another
item of news.
the Carmody school to a Priscilla
Didn't you go to Queen's with
a girl of that name, Anne?"
"Yes, indeed. Priscilla to
teach at Carmody! How perfectly
lovely!" exclaimed Anne, her
gray eyes lighting up until they
looked like evening stars, causing
Mrs. Lynde to wonder anew if
she would ever get it settled
to her satisfaction whether Anne
Shirley were really a pretty
girl or not.