Anne of the Island
VIII. Anne's First Proposal
The old year did not slip away in a green twilight, with a pinky-yellow sunset. Instead, it
went out with a wild, white bluster and blow. It was one of the nights when the storm-
wind hurtles over the frozen meadows and black hollows, and moans around the eaves
like a lost creature, and drives the snow sharply against the shaking panes.
"Just the sort of night people like to cuddle down between their blankets and count their
mercies," said Anne to Jane Andrews, who had come up to spend the afternoon and
stay all night. But when they were cuddled between their blankets, in Anne's little porch
room, it was not her mercies of which Jane was thinking.
"Anne," she said very solemnly, "I want to tell you something. May I"
Anne was feeling rather sleepy after the party Ruby Gillis had given the night before.
She would much rather have gone to sleep than listen to Jane's confidences, which she
was sure would bore her. She had no prophetic inkling of what was coming. Probably
Jane was engaged, too; rumor averred that Ruby Gillis was engaged to the
Spencervale schoolteacher, about whom all the girls were said to be quite wild.
"I'll soon be the only fancy-free maiden of our old quartet," thought Anne, drowsily.
Aloud she said, "Of course."
"Anne," said Jane, still more solemnly, "what do you think of my brother Billy?"
Anne gasped over this unexpected question, and floundered helplessly in her thoughts.
Goodness, what DID she think of Billy Andrews? She had never thought ANYTHING
about him--round-faced, stupid, perpetually smiling, good-natured Billy Andrews. Did
ANYBODY ever think about Billy Andrews?
"I--I don't understand, Jane," she stammered. "What do you mean--exactly?"
"Do you like Billy?" asked Jane bluntly.
"Why--why--yes, I like him, of course," gasped Anne, wondering if she were telling the
literal truth. Certainly she did not DISlike Billy. But could the indifferent tolerance with
which she regarded him, when he happened to be in her range of vision, be considered
positive enough for liking? WHAT was Jane trying to elucidate?
"Would you like him for a husband?" asked Jane calmly.
"A husband!" Anne had been sitting up in bed, the better to wrestle with the problem of
her exact opinion of Billy Andrews. Now she fell flatly back on her pillows, the very
breath gone out of her. "Whose husband?"