Sunday, November 7, 2010

An Unfortunate Lily Maid


My dearest of all girlfriends is packing her boxes in anticipation of going home. She wrote to me about how she was putting away her various volumes of poetry and how it reminded her of our huge fondness for Tennyson when we were little girls. If you'd happened to come wandering through our vicinity ten years ago you might have found us stretched out in the orchard reading pieces of The Lady of Shallot aloud between bites of apple.

An L.M. Montgomery fan can't think of that particular poem of Tennyson's without think of Anne of Green Gables. Those who know me know that I love those books, and that Anne and Gilbert are my favourite of all fictional couples. Their story is so sweet, so quiet, and so beautiful.

And so I re-read one of my favourite chapters from the book: An Unfortunate Lily Maid. Anne's impulsive and resentful nature reminds me of myself. But that expression in Gilbert's eyes helps me curb my tendency to hold grudges. "Can't we be good friends?" That scene from Montgomery's book, which I grew up on and re-read time and time again, somehow makes it very easy not just to hesitate and consider, but to say "yes."

Gilbert obligingly rowed to the landing and Anne, disdaining assistance, sprang nimbly on shore.

"I'm very much obliged to you," she said haughtily as she turned away. But Gilbert had also sprung from the boat and now laid a detaining hand on her arm.

"Anne," he said hurriedly, "look here. Can't we be good friends? I'm awfully sorry I made fun of your hair that time. I didn't mean to vex you and I only meant it for a joke. Besides, it's so long ago. I think your hair is awfully pretty now--honest I do. Let's be friends."

For a moment Anne hesitated. She had an odd, newly awakened consciousness under all her outraged dignity that the half-shy, half-eager expression in Gilbert's hazel eyes was something that was very good to see. Her heart gave a quick, queer little beat. But the bitterness of her old grievance promptly stiffened up her wavering determination. That scene of two years before flashed back into her recollection as vividly as if it had taken place yesterday. Gilbert had called her "carrots" and had brought about her disgrace before the whole school. Her resentment, which to other and older people might be as laughable as its cause, was in no whit allayed and softened by time seemingly. She hated Gilbert Blythe! She would never forgive him!

"No," she said coldly, "I shall never be friends with you, Gilbert Blythe; and I don't want to be!"

"All right!" Gilbert sprang into his skiff with an angry color in his cheeks. "I'll never ask you to be friends again, Anne Shirley. And I don't care either!"

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