I. Sheer Gossip
"Where are the other children?" asked Miss Cornelia, when the first greetings--
cordial on her side, rapturous on Anne's, and dignified on Susan's--were over.
"Shirley is in bed and Jem and Walter and the twins are down in their beloved
Rainbow Valley," said Anne. "They just came home this afternoon, you know,
and they could hardly wait until supper was over before rushing down to the
valley. They love it above every spot on earth. Even the maple grove doesn't rival
it in their affections."
"I am afraid they love it too well," said Susan gloomily. "Little Jem said once he
would rather go to Rainbow Valley than to heaven when he died, and that was
not a proper remark."
"I suppose they had a great time in Avonlea?" said Miss Cornelia.
"Enormous. Marilla does spoil them terribly. Jem, in particular, can do no wrong
in her eyes."
"Miss Cuthbert must be an old lady now," said Miss Cornelia, getting out her
knitting, so that she could hold her own with Susan. Miss Cornelia held that the
woman whose hands were employed always had the advantage over the woman
whose hands were not.
"Marilla is eighty-five," said Anne with a sigh. "Her hair is snow-white. But,
strange to say, her eyesight is better than it was when she was sixty."
"Well, dearie, I'm real glad you're all back. I've been dreadful lonesome. But we
haven't been dull in the Glen, believe ME. There hasn't been such an exciting
spring in my time, as far as church matters go. We've got settled with a minister
at last, Anne dearie."
"The Reverend John Knox Meredith, Mrs. Dr. dear," said Susan, resolved not to
let Miss Cornelia tell all the news.
"Is he nice?" asked Anne interestedly.
Miss Cornelia sighed and Susan groaned.
"Yes, he's nice enough if that were all," said the former. "He is VERY nice--and
very learned--and very spiritual. But, oh Anne dearie, he has no common sense!
"How was it you called him, then?"
"Well, there's no doubt he is by far the best preacher we ever had in Glen St.
Mary church," said Miss Cornelia, veering a tack or two. "I suppose it is because
he is so moony and absent-minded that he never got a town call. His trial sermon
was simply wonderful, believe ME. Every one went mad about it-- and his looks."
"He is VERY comely, Mrs. Dr. dear, and when all is said and done, I DO like to
see a well-looking man in the pulpit," broke in Susan, thinking it was time she
asserted herself again.
"Besides," said Miss Cornelia, "we were anxious to get settled. And Mr. Meredith
was the first candidate we were all agreed on. Somebody had some objection to
all the others. There was some talk of calling Mr. Folsom. He was a good
preacher, too, but somehow people didn't care for his appearance. He was too
dark and sleek."