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Anne of Avonlea

1. An Irate Neighbor
A tall, slim girl, "half-past 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 Virgil.
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 ambitions.
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 the lane and five seconds later Mr.
Harrison arrived . . . if "arrived" be not too mild a term to describe the manner of his
irruption into the yard.
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 or twice.
In early April, before Anne had come home from Queen's, Mr. Robert Bell, whose farm
adjoined the Cuthbert place on the west, had sold out and moved to Charlottetown. His
 
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