September 30, 2020

Anne Part 53 “I shall like to think of my dear father’s books in your hands”

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We continue our serialisation of Anne by Constance Fenimore Woolson

Anne returned to her room, and tried to sleep, but could not. Dawn found her at the window, wakeful and anxious. There was to be no sun that day, only a yellow white light. She knelt down and prayed; then she rose, and braided anew her thick brown hair. When she entered the sitting -room the vivid rose freshness that always came to her in the early morning was only slightly paled by her vigil, and her face seemed as usual to the boys, who were waiting for her. Before breakfast was ready, Miss Lois arrived, tightly swathed in a shawl and veils, and carrying a large basket.

 

“There is fresh gingerbread in there,” she said; “I thought the boys might like some; and—it   will be   an   excellent   day   to   finish   those   jackets, Anne.   No   danger of interruption.”

 

She did not mention the gale or Rast; neither did Anne. They sat down to breakfast with the boys, and talked about thread and buttons. But, while they were eating, Louis exclaimed, “Why, there’s Dr. Gaston!” and looking up, they saw the chaplain struggling to keep his hat in place as he came up the path sideways, fighting the wind.

 

“He should just have wrapped himself up, and scudded before it as I did,” said Miss

Lois.

 

Anne ran to open the door, and the old clergyman came panting in.

 

“It is such a miserable day that I thought you would like to have that dictionary, dear;

So I brought it down to you,” he said, laying the heavy volume on the table. “Thanks. Have you had breakfast?” said Anne.

“Well, no. I thought I would come without waiting for it this morning, in order that you might have the book, you know. What! You here, Miss Lois?”

 

“Yes, sir. I came to help Anne. We are going to have a good long day at these jackets,” replied Miss Lois, briskly.

 

They all sat down at the table again, and Gabriel was going to the kitchen for hot potatoes, when he spied another figure struggling through the gate and driving up the long path. “Père Michaux!” he cried, running to open the door.

 

In another moment the priest had entered, and was greeting them cheerfully. “As I staid in town overnight, I thought, Anne, that I would come up and look over those books. It is a good day for it; there will be no interruption. I think I shall find a number of volumes which I may wish to purchase.”

 

“It is very kind; I shall like to think of my dear father’s books in your hands. But have you breakfasted?”

 

No, the priest acknowledged that he had not.  In truth, he was not hungry when he rose; but now that he saw the table spread, he thought he might eat something after all.

 

So they sat down again, and Louis went out to help Gabriel bring in more coffee, potatoes, and eggs.  There was a good deal of noise with the plates, a good deal of passing to and fro the milk, cream, butter, and salt; a good deal of talking on rather a high key; a great many questions and answers whose irrelevancy nobody noticed.  Dr. Gaston told a long story, and forgot the point; but Miss Lois laughed as heartily as though it had been acutely present. Père Michaux then brought up the venerable subject of the lost grave of Father Marquette; and the others entered into it with the enthusiasm of resurrectionists, and as though they had never heard of it before, Miss Lois and Dr. Gaston even seeming to be pitted against each other in the amount of interest they showed concerning the dead Jesuit. Anne said little; in truth, there was no space left for her, the others keeping up so brisk a fire of phrases. It was not until Tita, coming into the room, remarked, as she warmed her hands, that breakfast was unusually early, that any stop was made, and then all the talkers fell upon her directly, in lieu of Father Marquette. Miss Lois could not imagine what she meant. It was sad, indeed, to see such laziness in so young a child. Before long she would be asking for breakfast in bed! Dr. Gaston scouted the idea that it was early; he had often been down in the village an hour earlier. It was a fine bracing morning for a walk.

 

All this time the high ceaseless whistle of the wind, the roar of the water on the beach, the banging to and fro of the shutters here and there on the wide rambling old mansion, the creaking of the near trees that brushed its sides, and the hundred other noises of the gale, made the room seem strange and uncomfortable; every now and then the solid old frame-work vibrated as a new blast struck it, and through the floor and patched carpet puffs of cold air came up into the room and swept over their feet. All their voices were pitched high to overcome these sounds.

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