Further Chronicles of Avonlea
VIII. The Little Brown Book Of Miss Emily
The first summer Mr. Irving and Miss Lavendar--Diana and I could never call her
anything else, even after she was married--were at Echo Lodge after their marriage,
both Diana and I spent a great deal of time with them. We became acquainted with
many of the Grafton people whom we had not known before, and among others, the
family of Mr. Mack Leith. We often went up to the Leiths in the evening to play croquet.
Millie and Margaret Leith were very nice girls, and the boys were nice, too. Indeed, we
liked every one in the family, except poor old Miss Emily Leith. We tried hard enough to
like her, because she seemed to like Diana and me very much, and always wanted to
sit with us and talk to us, when we would much rather have been somewhere else. We
often felt a good deal of impatience at these times, but I am very glad to think now that
we never showed it.
In a way, we felt sorry for Miss Emily. She was Mr. Leith's old-maid sister and she was
not of much importance in the household. But, though we felt sorry for her, we couldn't
like her. She really was fussy and meddlesome; she liked to poke a finger into every
one's pie, and she was not at all tactful. Then, too, she had a sarcastic tongue, and
seemed to feel bitter towards all the young folks and their love affairs. Diana and I
thought this was because she had never had a lover of her own.
Somehow, it seemed impossible to think of lovers in connection with Miss Emily. She
was short and stout and pudgy, with a face so round and fat and red that it seemed
quite featureless; and her hair was scanty and gray. She walked with a waddle, just like
Mrs. Rachel Lynde, and she was always rather short of breath. It was hard to believe
Miss Emily had ever been young; yet old Mr. Murray, who lived next door to the Leiths,
not only expected us to believe it, but assured us that she had been very pretty.
"THAT, at least, is impossible," said Diana to me.
And then, one day, Miss Emily died. I'm afraid no one was very sorry. It seems to me a
most dreadful thing to go out of the world and leave not one person behind to be sorry
because you have gone. Miss Emily was dead and buried before Diana and I heard of it
at all. The first I knew of it was when I came home from Orchard Slope one day and
found a queer, shabby little black horsehair trunk, all studded with brass nails, on the
floor of my room at Green Gables. Marilla told me that Jack Leith had brought it over,
and said that it had belonged to Miss Emily and that, when she was dying, she asked
them to send it to me.
"But what is in it? And what am I to do with it?" I asked in bewilderment.
"There was nothing said about what you were to do with it. Jack said they didn't know
what was in it, and hadn't looked into it, seeing that it was your property. It seems a
rather queer proceeding--but you're always getting mixed up in queer proceedings,