Further Chronicles of Avonlea HTML version

III. Her Father's Daughter
"We must invite your Aunt Jane, of course," said Mrs. Spencer.
Rachel made a protesting movement with her large, white, shapely hands--hands which
were so different from the thin, dark, twisted ones folded on the table opposite her. The
difference was not caused by hard work or the lack of it; Rachel had worked hard all her
life. It was a difference inherent in temperament. The Spencers, no matter what they
did, or how hard they labored, all had plump, smooth, white hands, with firm, supple
fingers; the Chiswicks, even those who toiled not, neither did they spin, had hard,
knotted, twisted ones. Moreover, the contrast went deeper than externals, and twined
itself with the innermost fibers of life, and thought, and action.
"I don't see why we must invite Aunt Jane," said Rachel, with as much impatience as
her soft, throaty voice could express. "Aunt Jane doesn't like me, and I don't like Aunt
"I'm sure I don't see why you don't like her," said Mrs. Spencer. "It's ungrateful of you.
She has always been very kind to you."
"She has always been very kind with one hand," smiled Rachel. "I remember the first
time I ever saw Aunt Jane. I was six years old. She held out to me a small velvet
pincushion with beads on it. And then, because I did not, in my shyness, thank her quite
as promptly as I should have done, she rapped my head with her bethimbled finger to
'teach me better manners.' It hurt horribly--I've always had a tender head. And that has
been Aunt Jane's way ever since. When I grew too big for the thimble treatment she
used her tongue instead--and that hurt worse. And you know, mother, how she used to
talk about my engagement. She is able to spoil the whole atmosphere if she happens to
come in a bad humor. I don't want her."
"She must be invited. People would talk so if she wasn't."
"I don't see why they should. She's only my great-aunt by marriage. I wouldn't mind in
the least if people did talk. They'll talk anyway--you know that, mother."
"Oh, we must have her," said Mrs. Spencer, with the indifferent finality that marked all
her words and decisions--a finality against which it was seldom of any avail to struggle.
People, who knew, rarely attempted it; strangers occasionally did, misled by the deceit
of appearances.
Isabella Spencer was a wisp of a woman, with a pale, pretty face, uncertainly-colored,
long-lashed grayish eyes, and great masses of dull, soft, silky brown hair. She had
delicate aquiline features and a small, babyish red mouth. She looked as if a breath