Anne of the Island HTML version

IV. April's Lady
Kingsport is a quaint old town, hearking back to early Colonial days, and wrapped in its
ancient atmosphere, as some fine old dame in garments fashioned like those of her
youth. Here and there it sprouts out into modernity, but at heart it is still unspoiled; it is
full of curious relics, and haloed by the romance of many legends of the past. Once it
was a mere frontier station on the fringe of the wilderness, and those were the days
when Indians kept life from being monotonous to the settlers. Then it grew to be a bone
of contention between the British and the French, being occupied now by the one and
now by the other, emerging from each occupation with some fresh scar of battling
nations branded on it.
It has in its park a martello tower, autographed all over by tourists, a dismantled old
French fort on the hills beyond the town, and several antiquated cannon in its public
squares. It has other historic spots also, which may be hunted out by the curious, and
none is more quaint and delightful than Old St. John's Cemetery at the very core of the
town, with streets of quiet, old-time houses on two sides, and busy, bustling, modern
thoroughfares on the others. Every citizen of Kingsport feels a thrill of possessive pride
in Old St. John's, for, if he be of any pretensions at all, he has an ancestor buried there,
with a queer, crooked slab at his head, or else sprawling protectively over the grave, on
which all the main facts of his history are recorded. For the most part no great art or skill
was lavished on those old tombstones. The larger number are of roughly chiselled
brown or gray native stone, and only in a few cases is there any attempt at
ornamentation. Some are adorned with skull and cross-bones, and this grizzly
decoration is frequently coupled with a cherub's head. Many are prostrate and in ruins.
Into almost all Time's tooth has been gnawing, until some inscriptions have been
completely effaced, and others can only be deciphered with difficulty. The graveyard is
very full and very bowery, for it is surrounded and intersected by rows of elms and
willows, beneath whose shade the sleepers must lie very dreamlessly, forever crooned
to by the winds and leaves over them, and quite undisturbed by the clamor of traffic just
Anne took the first of many rambles in Old St. John's the next afternoon. She and
Priscilla had gone to Redmond in the forenoon and registered as students, after which
there was nothing more to do that day. The girls gladly made their escape, for it was not
exhilarating to be surrounded by crowds of strangers, most of whom had a rather alien
appearance, as if not quite sure where they belonged.
The "freshettes" stood about in detached groups of two or three, looking askance at
each other; the "freshies," wiser in their day and generation, had banded themselves
together on the big staircase of the entrance hall, where they were shouting out glees
with all the vigor of youthful lungs, as a species of defiance to their traditional enemies,
the Sophomores, a few of whom were prowling loftily about, looking properly disdainful
of the "unlicked cubs" on the stairs. Gilbert and Charlie were nowhere to be seen.