The next three weeks were busy ones at Green Gables, for Anne was getting
ready to go to Queen's, and there was much sewing to be done, and many things to be talked over and arranged. Anne's outfit
was ample and pretty, for Matthew saw to that, and Marilla for once made no objections whatever to anything he purchased or
suggested. More-- one evening she went up to the east gable with her arms full of a delicate pale green material.
"Anne, here's something for a nice light dress for you. I don't suppose you
really need it; you've plenty of pretty waists; but I thought maybe you'd like something real dressy to wear if you were asked
out anywhere of an evening in town, to a party or anything like that. I hear that Jane and Ruby and Josie have got `evening
dresses,' as they call them, and I don't mean you shall be behind them. I got Mrs. Allan to help me pick it in town last week,
and we'll get Emily Gillis to make it for you. Emily has got taste, and her fits aren't to be equaled."
"Oh, Marilla, it's just lovely," said Anne. "Thank you so much. I don't believe
you ought to be so kind to me--it's making it harder every day for me to go away."
The green dress was made up with as many tucks and frills and shirrings as
Emily's taste permitted. Anne put it on one evening for Matthew's and Marilla's benefit, and recited "The Maiden's Vow" for
them in the kitchen. As Marilla watched the bright, animated face and graceful motions her thoughts went back to the evening
Anne had arrived at Green Gables, and memory recalled a vivid picture of the odd, frightened child in her preposterous yellowish-brown
wincey dress, the heartbreak looking out of her tearful eyes. Something in the memory brought tears to Marilla's own eyes.
"I declare, my recitation has made you cry, Marilla," said Anne gaily stooping
over Marilla's chair to drop a butterfly kiss on that lady's cheek. "Now, I call that a positive triumph."
"No, I wasn't crying over your piece," said Marilla, who would have scorned
to be betrayed into such weakness by any poetry stuff. "I just couldn't help thinking of the little girl you used to be, Anne.
And I was wishing you could have stayed a little girl, even with all your queer ways. You've grown up now and you're going
away; and you look so tall and stylish and so--so--different altogether in that dress--as if you didn't belong in Avonlea
at all-- and I just got lonesome thinking it all over."
"Marilla!" Anne sat down on Marilla's gingham lap, took Marilla's lined face
between her hands, and looked gravely and tenderly into Marilla's eyes. "I'm not a bit changed-- not really. I'm only just
pruned down and branched out. The real me--back here--is just the same. It won't make a bit of difference where I go or how
much I change outwardly; at heart I shall always be your little Anne, who will love you and Matthew and dear Green Gables
more and better every day of her life."
Anne laid her fresh young cheek against Marilla's faded one, and reached out
a hand to pat Matthew's shoulder. Marilla would have given much just then to have possessed Anne's power of putting her feelings
into words; but nature and habit had willed it otherwise, and she could only put her arms close about her girl and hold her
tenderly to her heart, wishing that she need never let her go.
Matthew, with a suspicious moisture in his eyes, got up and went out-of-doors.
Under the stars of the blue summer night he walked agitatedly across the yard to the gate under the poplars.
"Well now, I guess she ain't been much spoiled," he muttered, proudly. "I
guess my putting in my oar occasional never did much harm after all. She's smart and pretty, and loving, too, which is better
than all the rest. She's been a blessing to us, and there never was a luckier mistake than what Mrs. Spencer made--if it was
luck. I don't believe it was any such thing. It was Providence, because the Almighty saw we needed her, I reckon."