L M Montgomery Anne of Windy Poplars

ISBN 13: 9780140325683

Anne of Windy Poplars

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9780140325683: Anne of Windy Poplars

Anne Shirley has left Redmond College behind to begin a new job and a new chapter of her life away from Green Gables. Now she faces a new challenge: the Pringles. They're known as the royal family of Summerside - and they quickly let Anne know she is not the person they had wanted as principal of Summerside High School. But as she settles into the cozy tower room at Windy Poplars, Anne finds she has great allies in the widows Aunt Kate and Aunt Chatty – and in their irrepressible housekeeper, Rebecca Dew. As Anne learns Summerside's strangest secrets, winning the support of the prickly Pringles becomes only the first of her delicious triumphs. Lucy Maud Montgomery CBE, (always called "Maud" by family and friends) and publicly known as L. M. Montgomery, (November 30, 1874–April 24, 1942) was a Canadian author, best known for a series of novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908. Once published, Anne of Green Gables was an immediate success. The central character, Anne, an orphaned girl, made Montgomery famous in her lifetime and gave her an international following. The first novel was followed by a series of sequels with Anne as the central character. The novels became the basis for the highly acclaimed 1985 CBC television miniseries, Anne of Green Gables and several other television movies and programs, including Road to Avonlea, which ran in Canada and the U.S. from 1990-1996.

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About the Author:

Lucy Maud Montgomery CBE, (always called "Maud" by family and friends) and publicly known as L. M. Montgomery, (1874-1942) was a Canadian author, best known for a series of novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908.

Once published, Anne of Green Gables was an immediate success. The central character, Anne, an orphaned girl, made Montgomery famous in her lifetime and gave her an international following. The first novel was followed by a series of sequels with Anne as the central character. The novels became the basis for the highly acclaimed 1985 CBC television miniseries, Anne of Green Gables and several other television movies and programs, including Road to Avonlea, which ran in Canada and the U.S. from 1990-1996.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

(Letter from Anne Shirley, B.A., Principal of Summerside High School, to Gilbert Blythe, medical student at Redmond College, Kingsport.)

Windy Poplars,

Spook's Lane,

S'side, P. E. I.,

Monday, September 12th.

Dearest:

Isn't that an address! Did you ever hear anything so delicious? Windy Poplars is the name of my new home and I love it. I also love Spook's Lane, which has no legal existence. It should be Trent Street but it is never called Trent Street except on the rare occasions when it is mentioned in the Weekly Courier...and then people look at each other and say, "Where on earth is that?" Spook's Lane it is...although for what reason I cannot tell you. I have already asked Rebecca Dew about it, but all she can say is that it has always been Spook's Lane and there was some old yarn years ago of its being haunted. But she has never seen anything worse-looking than herself in it.

However, I mustn't get ahead of my story. You don't know Rebecca Dew yet. But you will, oh, yes, you will. I foresee that Rebecca Dew will figure largely in my future correspondence.

It's dusk, dearest. (In passing, isn't "dusk" a lovely word? I like it better than twilight. It sounds so velvety and shadowy and...and...dusky.) In daylight I belong to the world...in the night to sleep and eternity. But in the dusk I'm free from both and belong only to myself...and you. So I'm going to keep this hour sacred to writing to you. Though this won't be a love-letter. I have a scratchy pen and I can't write love-letters with a scratchy pen...or a sharp pen...or a stub pen. So you'll only get that kind of letter from me when I have exactly the right kind of pen. Meanwhile, I'll tell you about my new domicile and its inhabitants. Gilbert, they're such dears.

I came up yesterday to look for a boarding-house. Mrs. Rachel Lynde came with me, ostensibly to do some shopping but really, I know, to choose a boarding-house for me. In spite of my Arts course and my B.A., Mrs. Lynde still thinks I am an inexperienced young thing who must be guided and directed and overseen.

We came by train and oh, Gilbert, I had the funniest adventure. You know I've always been one to whom adventures came unsought. I just seem to attract them, as it were.

It happened just as the train was coming to a stop at the station. I got up and, stooping to pick up Mrs. Lynde's suitcase (she was planning to spend Sunday with a friend in Summerside), I leaned my knuckles heavily on what I thought was the shiny arm of a seat. In a second I received a violent crack across them that nearly made me howl. Gilbert, what I had taken for the arm of a seat was a man's bald head. He was glaring fiercely at me and had evidently just waked up. I apologized abjectly and got off the train as quickly as possible. The last I saw of him he was still glaring. Mrs. Lynde was horrified and my knuckles are sore yet!

I did not expect to have much trouble in finding a boarding-house, for a certain Mrs. Tom Pringle has been boarding the various principals of the High School for the last fifteen years. But, for some unknown reason, she has grown suddenly tired of "being bothered" and wouldn't take me. Several other desirable places had some polite excuse. Several other places weren't desirable. We wandered about the town the whole afternoon and got hot and tired and blue and headachy...at least I did. I was ready to give up in despair...and then, Spook's Lane just happened!

We had dropped in to see Mrs. Braddock, an old crony of Mrs. Lynde's. And Mrs. Braddock said she thought "the widows" might take me in.

"I've heard they want a boarder to pay Rebecca Dew's wages. They can't afford to keep Rebecca any longer unless a little extra money comes in. And if Rebecca goes, who is to milk that old red cow?"

Mrs. Braddock fixed me with a stern eye as if she thought I ought to milk the red cow but wouldn't believe me on oath if I claimed I could.

"What widows are you talking about?" demanded Mrs. Lynde.

"Why, Aunt Kate and Aunt Chatty," said Mrs. Braddock, as if everybody, even an ignorant B.A., ought to know that. "Aunt Kate is Mrs. Amasa MacComber (she's the Captain's widow) and Aunt Chatty is Mrs. Lincoln MacLean, just a plain widow. But everyone calls them ‘aunt.' They live at the end of Spook's Lane."

Spook's Lane! That settled it. I knew I just had to board with the widows.

"Let's go and see them at once," I implored Mrs. Lynde. It seemed to me if we lost a moment Spook's Lane would vanish back into fairyland.

"You can see them but it'll be Rebecca who'll really decide whether they'll take you or not. Rebecca Dew rules the roost at Windy Poplars, I can tell you."

Windy Poplars! It couldn't be true...no it couldn't. I must be dreaming. And Mrs. Rachel Lynde was actually saying it was a funny name for a place.

"Oh, Captain MacComber called it that. It was his house, you know. He planted all the poplars round it and was mighty proud of it, though he was seldom home and never stayed long. Aunt Kate used to say that was inconvenient, but we never got it figured out whether she meant his staying such a little time or his coming back at all. Well, Miss Shirley, I hope you'll get there. Rebecca Dew's a good cook and a genius with cold potatoes. If she takes a notion to you you'll be in clover. If she doesn't...well, she won't, that's all. I hear there's a new banker in town looking for a boarding-house and she may prefer him. It's kind of funny Mrs. Tom Pringle wouldn't take you. Summerside is full of Pringles and half Pringles. They're called "The Royal Family" and you'll have to get on their good side, Miss Shirley, or you'll never get along in Summerside High. They've always ruled the roost hereabouts...there's a street called after old Captain Abraham Pringle. There's a regular clan of them, but the two old ladies at Maplehurst boss the tribe. I did hear they were down on you."

"Why should they be?" I exclaimed. "I'm a total stranger to them."

"Well, a third cousin of theirs applied for the Principalship and they all think he should have got it. When your application was accepted the whole kit and boodle of them threw back their heads and howled. Well, people are like that. We have to take them as we find them, you know. They'll be as smooth as cream to you but they'll work against you every time. I'm not wanting to discourage you but forewarned is forearmed. I hope you'll make good just to spite them. If the widows take you, you won't mind eating with Rebecca Dew, will you? She isn't a servant, you know. She's a far-off cousin of the Captain's. She doesn't come to the table when there's company...she knows her place then...but if you were boarding there she wouldn't consider you company, of course."

I assured the anxious Mrs. Braddock that I'd love eating with Rebecca Dew and dragged Mrs. Lynde away. I must get ahead of the banker.

Mrs. Braddock followed us to the door.

"And don't hurt Aunt Chatty's feelings, will you? Her feelings are so easily hurt. She's so sensitive, poor thing. You see, she hasn't quite as much money as Aunt Kate...though Aunt Kate hasn't any too much either. And then Aunt Kate liked her husband real well...her own husband, I mean...but Aunt Chatty didn't...didn't like hers, I mean. Small wonder! Lincoln MacLean was an old crank...but she thinks people hold it against her. It's lucky this is Saturday. If it was Friday Aunt Chatty wouldn't even consider taking you. You'd think Aunt Kate would be the superstitious one, wouldn't you? Sailors are kind of like that. But it's Aunt Chatty...although her husband was a carpenter. She was very pretty in her day, poor thing."

I assured Mrs. Braddock that Aunt Chatty's feelings would be sacred to me, but she followed us down the walk.

"Kate and Chatty won't explore your belongings when you're out. They're very conscientious. Rebecca Dew may, but she won't tell on you. And I wouldn't go to the front door if I was you. They only use it for something real important. I don't think it's been opened since Amasa's funeral. Try the side door. They keep the key under the flowerpot on the windowsill, so if nobody's home just unlock the door and go in and wait. And whatever you do, don't praise the cat, because Rebecca Dew doesn't like him."

I promised I wouldn't praise the cat and we actually got away. Erelong we found ourselves in Spook's Lane. It is a very short side street, leading out to open country, and far away a blue hill makes a beautiful back-drop for it. On one side there are no houses at all and the land slopes down to the harbor. On the other side there are only three. The first one is just a house...nothing more to be said of it. The next one is a big, imposing, gloomy mansion of stone-trimmed red brick, with a mansard roof warty with dormer-windows, an iron railing around the flat top and so many spruces and firs crowding about it that you can hardly see the house. It must be frightfully dark inside. And the third and last is Windy Poplars right on the corner, with the grass-grown street on the front and a real country road, beautiful with tree shadows, on the other side.

I fell in love with it at once. You know there are houses which impress themselves upon you at first sight for some reason you can hardly define. Windy Poplars is like that. I may describe it to you as a white frame house...very white...with green shutters...very green...with a "tower" in the corner and a dormer-window on either side, a low stone wall dividing it from the street, with aspen poplars growing at intervals along it, and a big garden at the back where flowers and vegetables are delightfully jumbled up together...but all this can't convey its charm to you. In short, it is a house with a delightful personality and has something of the flavor of Green Gables about it.

"This is the spot for me...it's been foreordained," I said rapturously.

Mrs. Lynde looked as if she didn't quite trust foreordination.

"It'll be a long walk to school," she said dubiously.

"I don't mind that. It will be good exercise. Oh, look at that lovely birch and maple grove across the road."

Mrs. Lynde looked but all she said was, "I hope you won't be pestered with mosquitoes."

I hoped so, too. I detest mosquitoes. One mosquito can keep me "awaker" than a bad conscience.

I was glad we didn't have to go in by the front door. It looked so forbidding...a big, double-leaved, grained-wood affair, flanked by panels of red, flowered glass. It doesn't seem to belong to the house at all. The little green side door, which we reached by a darling path of thin, flat sandstones sunk at intervals in the grass, was much more friendly and inviting. The path was edged by very prim, well-ordered beds of ribbon grass and bleeding-heart and tiger lilies and sweet-William and southernwood and bride's bouquet and red-and-white daisies and what Mrs. Lynde calls "pinies." Of course they weren't all in bloom at this season, but you could see they had bloomed at the proper time and done it well. There was a rose plot in a far corner and between Windy Poplars and the gloomy house next a brick wall all overgrown with Virginia creeper, with an arched trellis above a faded green door in the middle of it. A vine ran right across it, so it was plain it hadn't been opened for some time. It was really only half a door, for its top half is merely an open oblong through which we could catch a glimpse of a jungly garden on the other side.

Just as we entered the gate of the garden of Windy Poplars I noticed a little clump of clover right by the path. Some impulse led me to stoop down and look at it. Would you believe it, Gilbert? There, right before my eyes, were three four-leafed clovers! Talk about omens! Even the Pringles can't contend against that. And I felt sure the banker hadn't an earthly chance.

The side door was open so it was evident somebody was at home and we didn't have to look under the flowerpot. We knocked and Rebecca Dew came to the door. We knew it was Rebecca Dew because it couldn't have been anyone else in the whole wide world. And she couldn't have had any other name.

Rebecca Dew is "around forty" and if a tomato had black hair racing away from its forehead, little twinkling black eyes, a tiny nose with a knobby end and a slit of a mouth, it would look exactly like her. Everything about her is a little too short...arms and legs and neck and nose...everything but her smile. It is long enough to reach from ear to ear.

But we didn't see her smile just then. She looked very grim when I asked if I could see Mrs. MacComber.

"You mean Mrs. Captain MacComber?" she said rebukingly, as if there were at least a dozen Mrs. MacCombers in the house.

"Yes," I said meekly. And we were forthwith ushered into the parlor and left there. It was rather a nice little room, a bit cluttered up with antimacassars but with a quiet, friendly atmosphere about it that I liked. Every bit of furniture had its own particular place which it had occupied for years. How that furniture shone! No bought polish ever produced that mirror-like gloss. I knew it was Rebecca Dew's elbow grease. There was a full-rigged ship in a bottle on the mantelpiece which interested Mrs. Lynde greatly. She couldn't imagine how it ever got into the bottle...but she thought it gave the room "a nautical air."

"The widows" came in. I liked them at once. Aunt Kate was tall and thin and gray, and a little austere...Marilla's type exactly; and Aunt Chatty was short and thin and gray, and a little wistful. She may have been very pretty once but nothing is now left of her beauty except her eyes. They are lovely...soft and big and brown.

I explained my errand and the widows looked at each other.

"We must consult Rebecca Dew," said Aunt Chatty.

"Undoubtedly," said Aunt Kate.

Rebecca Dew was accordingly summoned from the kitchen. The cat came in with her...a big fluffy Maltese, with a white breast and a white collar. I should have liked to stroke him, but, remembering Mrs. Braddock's warning, I ignored him.

Rebecca gazed at me without the glimmer of a smile.

"Rebecca," said Aunt Kate, who, I have discovered, does not waste words, "Miss Shirley wishes to board here. I don't think we can take her."

"Why not?" said Rebecca Dew.

"It would be too much trouble for you, I am afraid," said Aunt Chatty.

"I'm well used to trouble," said Rebecca Dew. You can't separate those names, Gilbert. It's impossible...though the widows do it. They call her Rebecca when they speak to her. I don't know how they manage it.

"We are rather old to have young people coming and going," persisted Aunt Chatty.

"Speak for yourself," retorted Rebecca Dew. "I'm only forty-five and I still have the use of my faculties. And I think it wou...

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Montgomery, L M
Published by Penguin Putnam (1993)
ISBN 10: 0140325689 ISBN 13: 9780140325683
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