"I do love a walk on the shore," mused Anne Shirley--no, not Anne Shirley! Anne Blythe--but it was so easy to forget that she was not the Anne Shirley of days of yore when her still-slim figure was garbed in her bronze housedress--so like the brown gloria Matthew had bought her long ago!--and her hair had come loose from it's trappings and sprang into little wayward curls about her face. Her eyes were just as dreamy as they had always been as she laid her finger pensively against the charming dent in her chin.
"Why is it," she wondered, "That a walk on the shore is never a wrong idea--not in any weather? When it is beautiful and sunny the sea is beautiful and sunny, too--when it is blustery and stormy the waves on the rocks seem to suit my feelings e-zackly, as Davy used to say! The only time it's not appropriate to walk here is when it's raining--but I don't even mind the rain. The rain and I have always been friends. This Glen shore seems like a dear friend--personable and changeable. How can that be? To quote another Davy-ism: 'I want to know.'"
"Well, I don't know," laughed Leslie Ford--Leslie Moore of old--who had not changed much herself since we last saw her. Perhaps she had grown a bit thicker about the waist but thinness had never suited her. Or so said Miss Cornelia, who would have defended Leslie if she had sprouted horns on her forehead. Leslie's eyes seemed given to fits of dream and wonder as they never had in the old days and her mouth--why, her pretty mouth was never without a smile, now! Those changes had much to do with the tall man pouring over his writing desk back at home and the wee fellow asleep in his crib by the fire, to be sure.
"Your trouble is that you think too much, Anne," Leslie laughed again--Leslie was always laughing these days. Anne thrilled to hear it. "I see the rocks and the gulls and the waves and I think, 'Oh, how beautiful!' and feel happy about it and soak in the beauty and that is enough. But then, I am not a B.A. like you, Mrs. Dr. Blythe."
The girls shared a companionable smile.
"I can't help thinking about things," Anne mused. "To know has always been my goal in live--after to love. To have a hundred years in this world to learn--to explore--to grow and watch things growing--it's marvelous! I can't help feeling wonder-full--it just bubbles up in me. And don't twit yourself about not being a B.A., Leslie." This was said sternly--with four small young ones at home, Anne had had to learn to be gently stern--at times. Like when Aunt Josephine Barry's Wedgewood plate had been stepped on by small feet and broken (but what was it doing on the floor in the first place?) Or when a hunk of chewing gum had been found in Small Diana's hair (Jem had put it there...to "see what would happen." He found out.)
"I'm not twitting myself," Leslie protested, laughing some more. "My time for B.A.s is long past I fear--" she patted her waistline fondly and thought again of her wee man in his cot at home. "But it would have been nice to have had the chance when I still had it." Leslie's face grew a mite troubled as she thought back over the years before happiness had come to rest in her heart. Anne slipped her pale hand into Leslie's sun-browned one.
"Hasn't Owen said you might take a course in literature if you wanted?" Anne wondered.
"He has," Leslie was all smiles again. "But oh, Anne, I'm really happy as I am, 'no foolies,' as we used to say in school. Only...Owen has been talking lately about starting another book...set in Japan."
"Japan!" Anne cried.
"Yes--it is a very interesting plot--but he knows next to nothing about the Japanese culture and wants us to move there, for a while at least, to experience it. But not for a while yet. He is still revising his current book."
"If you are to go," sighed Anne, "I'll miss you dreadfully. And the little House of Dreams will have to spend another summer boarded up. That dear house--I feel it lives for the times when you come to it."
"It is dear--and we won't be leaving it forever. Perhaps Owen and I will rent it while we are away--you can interview the tenants and make sure that only a true kindred spirit resides within its walls. How are you and Ingleside getting along lately?"
"I'm starting to love it, I think," Anne said cautiously. "Walter and the twins do--though Jem remains loyal to the home of his birth. Though he can't remember ever living there, just the times he has been down to play with Kenneth. Ingleside and I are becoming friends--more and more with each passing year. I was so determined not to like it in the beginning and you know how stubborn I am, Leslie! But I have always wanted a dressing room of my own and Ingleside has one. That's nice."
"You've made it look so homey," said Leslie.
"Oh, thanks. I do love a really homey home. Of course there is still much work to be done--Gilbert wants to replace the shingles and sand the floors--though when he will get the time I don't know! And Susan is in love with it. 'This is my House of Dreams, Mrs. Dr. dear,' she said. 'The new pantry has seen to that.'"
Susan was a duck but the Mistresses of Ingleside and the House of Dreams had an unholy laugh at her expense over that.
"I wonder how much time we'll have for walks on the shore this autumn," said Leslie, again running her hand fondly over her waist.
Anne put her arm around Leslie's and smiled, and leaned in close to whisper a secret of her own into her friend's ear.
"Anne! You aren't serious! Both of us with new arrivals! How perfectly sweet. And how lucky for you! A spring baby will be good and kind-tempered, like a March breeze. Or so saith the baby book Miss Cornelia brought me."
"And an autumn baby?"
"Will be fiery and hotheaded, with hair like autumn leaves. Does that sound familiar, dear one?"
They shared a giggle again, and Leslie once more grew pensive.
"This night, with the waves crashing on the rocks after the storm, reminds me of the night we first met on the shore, so long ago," Leslie shivered. "How many wonderful things have happened since then!"
Anne thought of those first years with happiness, yes, but could not help the pang in her heart as she thought of her first little lady who slept quietly in the churchyard. She pushed it quickly aside and clasped Leslie's hand a second time. "And how many more wonderful things are destined to happen!" she said, summoning joy.
Every light in Ingleside was on when Anne made her way up the path--a dear, winding path lined with what Captain Jim used to call "cohawk" shells. Anne was not admiring the shells just then. She was wondering what could possibly be the matter, to have the house all lit up! She picked up her skirt and hastened up the steps.
A harried Susan met her at the door, quick to reassure dear Mrs. Dr that nothing serious was amiss. Only--everything had gone "all catawampus." Walter had taken a notion into his head that the moon was a hole in the sky and for some reason that frightened him and he would not go to bed. The twins had gotten into the window boxes and uprooted every last one of the new apple geraniums in front of Miss Cornelia and they had had to be spanked. They took the spanking well, but Susan--who deep in her heart believed that the Ingleside children could do no wrong--had not. And Jem had a pain in his tummy and of course the doctor was away--but then, wasn't Little Jem always sore in the that area after his visits to Green Gables? Marilla and Mrs. Rachel spoiled him with such rich foods. But Susan did not mean to criticize. She knew her place.
Anne's lovely dreams of the sandshore receded in the prosy light of what needed to be done. She relieved the weary Susan and climbed the stairs to the nursery, where she kissed and stroked and soothed the evening's troubles away. The twins were already asleep--a hot water bottle on Jem's sore stomach did just the trick--and a talk with a frightened Walter relieved most of his fears.
"But Mummy, if the moon isn't a great gaping hole in the sky, what is it?"
"It's just a moon, dearest. A great shining beacon to keep the night from being too dark."
"But Mummy, can't we ever go to the moon and find out for sure?"
"If you close your eyes, you can fly there in your dreams. Now, it's time for sleep."
"Oh Mummy--it would be so nice to fly for real. Wouldn't it be nicer if we had wings?"
"We would look very silly if we had wings. Good night, small son."