Further Chronicles of Avonlea HTML version

XIII. The Conscience Case Of David Bell
Eben Bell came in with an armful of wood and banged it cheerfully down in the box
behind the glowing Waterloo stove, which was coloring the heart of the little kitchen's
gloom with tremulous, rose-red whirls of light.
"There, sis, that's the last chore on my list. Bob's milking. Nothing more for me to do but
put on my white collar for meeting. Avonlea is more than lively since the evangelist
came, ain't it, though!"
Mollie Bell nodded. She was curling her hair before the tiny mirror that hung on the
whitewashed wall and distorted her round, pink-and-white face into a grotesque
"Wonder who'll stand up to-night," said Eben reflectively, sitting down on the edge of the
wood-box. "There ain't many sinners left in Avonlea--only a few hardened chaps like
"You shouldn't talk like that," said Mollie rebukingly. "What if father heard you?"
"Father wouldn't hear me if I shouted it in his ear," returned Eben. "He goes around,
these days, like a man in a dream and a mighty bad dream at that. Father has always
been a good man. What's the matter with him?"
"I don't know," said Mollie, dropping her voice. "Mother is dreadfully worried over him.
And everybody is talking, Eb. It just makes me squirm. Flora Jane Fletcher asked me
last night why father never testified, and him one of the elders. She said the minister
was perplexed about it. I felt my face getting red."
"Why didn't you tell her it was no business of hers?" said Eben angrily. "Old Flora Jane
had better mind her own business."
"But all the folks are talking about it, Eb. And mother is fretting her heart out over it.
Father has never acted like himself since these meetings began. He just goes there
night after night, and sits like a mummy, with his head down. And almost everybody else
in Avonlea has testified."
"Oh, no, there's lots haven't," said Eben. "Matthew Cuthbert never has, nor Uncle
Elisha, nor any of the Whites."
"But everybody knows they don't believe in getting up and testifying, so nobody
wonders when they don't. Besides," Mollie laughed--"Matthew could never get a word
out in public, if he did believe in it. He'd be too shy. But," she added with a sigh, "it isn't