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Rainbow Valley

I. Home Again
It was a clear, apple-green evening in May, and Four Winds Harbour was
mirroring back the clouds of the golden west between its softly dark shores. The
sea moaned eerily on the sand-bar, sorrowful even in spring, but a sly, jovial
wind came piping down the red harbour road along which Miss Cornelia's
comfortable, matronly figure was making its way towards the village of Glen St.
Mary. Miss Cornelia was rightfully Mrs. Marshall Elliott, and had been Mrs.
Marshall Elliott for thirteen years, but even yet more people referred to her as
Miss Cornelia than as Mrs. Elliott. The old name was dear to her old friends, only
one of them contemptuously dropped it. Susan Baker, the gray and grim and
faithful handmaiden of the Blythe family at Ingleside, never lost an opportunity of
calling her "Mrs. Marshall Elliott," with the most killing and pointed emphasis, as if
to say "You wanted to be Mrs. and Mrs. you shall be with a vengeance as far as I
am concerned."
Miss Cornelia was going up to Ingleside to see Dr. and Mrs. Blythe, who were
just home from Europe. They had been away for three months, having left in
February to attend a famous medical congress in London; and certain things,
which Miss Cornelia was anxious to discuss, had taken place in the Glen during
their absence. For one thing, there was a new family in the manse. And such a
family! Miss Cornelia shook her head over them several times as she walked
briskly along.
Susan Baker and the Anne Shirley of other days saw her coming, as they sat on
the big veranda at Ingleside, enjoying the charm of the cat's light, the sweetness
of sleepy robins whistling among the twilit maples, and the dance of a gusty
group of daffodils blowing against the old, mellow, red brick wall of the lawn.
Anne was sitting on the steps, her hands clasped over her knee, looking, in the
kind dusk, as girlish as a mother of many has any right to be; and the beautiful
gray-green eyes, gazing down the harbour road, were as full of unquenchable
sparkle and dream as ever. Behind her, in the hammock, Rilla Blythe was curled
up, a fat, roly-poly little creature of six years, the youngest of the Ingleside
children. She had curly red hair and hazel eyes that were now buttoned up after
the funny, wrinkled fashion in which Rilla always went to sleep.
Shirley, "the little brown boy," as he was known in the family "Who's Who," was
asleep in Susan's arms. He was brown-haired, brown-eyed and brown-skinned,
with very rosy cheeks, and he was Susan's especial love. After his birth Anne
had been very ill for a long time, and Susan "mothered" the baby with a
passionate tenderness which none of the other children, dear as they were to
her, had ever called out. Dr. Blythe had said that but for her he would never have
lived.
"I gave him life just as much as you did, Mrs. Dr. dear," Susan was wont to say.
"He is just as much my baby as he is yours." And, indeed, it was always to Susan
that Shirley ran, to be kissed for bumps, and rocked to sleep, and protected from
well-deserved spankings. Susan had conscientiously spanked all the other Blythe
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