Anne of Avonlea
6. All Sorts and Conditions of Men . . . and women
A September day on Prince Edward Island hills; a crisp wind blowing up over the sand
dunes from the sea; a long red road, winding through fields and woods, now looping
itself about a corner of thick set spruces, now threading a plantation of young maples
with great feathery sheets of ferns beneath them, now dipping down into a hollow where
a brook flashed out of the woods and into them again, now basking in open sunshine
between ribbons of golden-rod and smoke-blue asters; air athrill with the pipings of
myriads of crickets, those glad little pensioners of the summer hills; a plump brown pony
ambling along the road; two girls behind him, full to the lips with the simple, priceless joy
of youth and life.
"Oh, this is a day left over from Eden, isn't it, Diana?" . . . and Anne sighed for sheer
happiness. "The air has magic in it. Look at the purple in the cup of the harvest valley,
Diana. And oh, do smell the dying fir! It's coming up from that little sunny hollow where
Mr. Eben Wright has been cutting fence poles. Bliss is it on such a day to be alive; but
to smell dying fir is very heaven. That's two thirds Wordsworth and one third Anne
Shirley. It doesn't seem possible that there should be dying fir in heaven, does it? And
yet it doesn't seem to me that heaven would be quite perfect if you couldn't get a whiff of
dead fir as you went through its woods. Perhaps we'll have the odor there without the
death. Yes, I think that will be the way. That delicious aroma must be the souls of the
firs . . . and of course it will be just souls in heaven."
"Trees haven't souls," said practical Diana, "but the smell of dead fir is certainly lovely.
I'm going to make a cushion and fill it with fir needles. You'd better make one too,
"I think I shall . . . and use it for my naps. I'd be certain to dream I was a dryad or a
woodnymph then. But just this minute I'm well content to be Anne Shirley, Avonlea
schoolma'am, driving over a road like this on such a sweet, friendly day."
"It's a lovely day but we have anything but a lovely task before us," sighed Diana. "Why
on earth did you offer to canvass this road, Anne? Almost all the cranks in Avonlea live
along it, and we'll probably be treated as if we were begging for ourselves. It's the very
worst road of all."
"That is why I chose it. Of course Gilbert and Fred would have taken this road if we had
asked them. But you see, Diana, I feel myself responsible for the A.V.I.S., since I was
the first to suggest it, and it seems to me that I ought to do the most disagreeable
things. I'm sorry on your account; but you needn't say a word at the cranky places. I'll do
all the talking . . . Mrs. Lynde would say I was well able to. Mrs. Lynde doesn't know
whether to approve of our enterprise or not. She inclines to, when she remembers that
Mr. and Mrs. Allan are in favor of it; but the fact that village improvement societies first
originated in the States is a count against it. So she is halting between two opinions and