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Further Chronicles of Avonlea

VII. The Return Of Hester
Just at dusk, that evening, I had gone upstairs and put on my muslin gown. I had been
busy all day attending to the strawberry preserving--for Mary Sloane could not be
trusted with that--and I was a little tired, and thought it was hardly worth while to change
my dress, especially since there was nobody to see or care, since Hester was gone.
Mary Sloane did not count.
But I did it because Hester would have cared if she had been here. She always liked to
see me neat and dainty. So, although I was tired and sick at heart, I put on my pale blue
muslin and dressed my hair.
At first I did my hair up in a way I had always liked; but had seldom worn, because
Hester had disapproved of it. It became me; but I suddenly felt as if it were disloyal to
her, so I took the puffs down again and arranged my hair in the plain, old-fashioned way
she had liked. My hair, though it had a good many gray threads in it, was thick and long
and brown still; but that did not matter--nothing mattered since Hester was dead and I
had sent Hugh Blair away for the second time.
The Newbridge people all wondered why I had not put on mourning for Hester. I did not
tell them it was because Hester had asked me not to. Hester had never approved of
mourning; she said that if the heart did not mourn crape would not mend matters; and if
it did there was no need of the external trappings of woe. She told me calmly, the night
before she died, to go on wearing my pretty dresses just as I had always worn them,
and to make no difference in my outward life because of her going.
"I know there will be a difference in your inward life," she said wistfully.
And oh, there was! But sometimes I wondered uneasily, feeling almost conscience-
stricken, whether it were wholly because Hester had left me--whether it were no partly
because, for a second time, I had shut the door of my heart in the face of love at her
bidding.
When I had dressed I went downstairs to the front door, and sat on the sandstone steps
under the arch of the Virginia creeper. I was all alone, for Mary Sloane had gone to
Avonlea.
It was a beautiful night; the full moon was just rising over the wooded hills, and her light
fell through the poplars into the garden before me. Through an open corner on the
western side I saw the sky all silvery blue in the afterlight. The garden was very
beautiful just then, for it was the time of the roses, and ours were all out--so many of
them--great pink, and red, and white, and yellow roses.
 
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