Anne of Green Gables – Chapter 12 – A Solemn Vow

Mr. and Ms. Cuthbert are grumpy middle-aged siblings who need help on their farm on Prince Edward Island. They decide to adopt a boy, but what they get instead is an outspoken girl named Anne.

It wasn’t until the next Friday that Marilla heard the story of the flower garland on the hat. She heard the story from Mrs. Rachel. And when she came back home, she called Anne over to her.

“Anne, Mrs. Rachel says you went to church last Sunday with your hat looking ridiculous with roses and buttercups. What on earth were you thinking? You must have looked real silly!”

“Oh. I know pink and yellow don’t look good on me,” began Anne.

“Stop that nonsense! You shouldn’t have put any flowers on your hat at all, no matter what color they were. That was ridiculous. You are the most aggravating child!”

“What’s the difference between putting flowers on your hat and putting flowers on your dress?” protested Anne. “Lots of other girls had flowers pinned to their dresses. What’s the difference?”

Marilla was not about to be drawn into another abstract conversation.

“Don’t answer me back like that, Anne. It was very silly of you to do such a thing. Never let me catch you doing such a trick again. Mrs. Rachel says she thought she would sink through the floor when she saw you all decorated like that. She couldn’t get near enough to tell you to take them off. She says people talked about it all day. Of course, they would think I didn’t have any sense to let you go to church like that.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” said Anne, tears welling up in her eyes. “I never thought you’d mind. The roses and buttercups were so sweet and pretty. I thought they’d look lovely on my hat. Lots of the girls had artificial flowers on their hats. Oh, no. I’m afraid I’m going to cause you so much trouble. Maybe you’d better send me back to the asylum. No, that would be terrible. I don’t think I could endure it. I would most likely starve to death. I’m so thin already, you see. But that would be better than to trouble you further.”

“Nonsense,” said Marilla. She felt angry at herself for making the child cry. “I don’t want to send you back to the asylum, I’m sure. All I want is for you to behave like other little girls and not make yourself ridiculous. Don’t cry any more. I’ve got some news for you. Diana Barry came home this afternoon. I’m going up to see if I can borrow a skirt pattern from Mrs. Barry, and if you like, you can come with me and get acquainted with Diana.”

Anne rose to her feet, with clasped hand, the tears still glistening on her cheeks. The dish towel she had been hemming fell to the floor, forgotten.

“Oh, Marilla, I’m frightened! Now that the time has actually come, I’m frightened. What if she doesn’t like me? It would be the most tragical disappointment of my life.”

“Now, don’t get flustered. And don’t use such long words. It sounds so funny for a little girl to speak like that. I guess Diana will like you well enough. It’s her mother that you’ve got to worry about. If she doesn’t like you, it won’t matter how much Diana likes you or not. Hopefully she hasn’t heard about your outburst with Mrs. Rachel or going to church with buttercups on your hat. You must be polite and well-behaved. And don’t make any of your strange speeches. For goodness sake, are you trembling!?”

Anne was trembling. Her face was pale and tense.

“Oh, Marilla, you’d be excited, too, if you were going to meet a girl you hoped would be your best friend and whose mother might not like you,” she said as she rushed to get her hat.

They went over to Orchard Slope by the shortcut across the brook and up the hill. Mrs. Barry came to the front door when Marilla knocked. She was a tall woman with black eyes, black hair and a very resolute mouth. She had a reputation of being very strict with her children.

“How do you do, Marilla?” she said politely. “Come in. And this is the little girl you have adopted, I suppose?”

“Yes, this is Anne Shirley,” said Marilla.

“Spelled with an E,” gasped Anne, who, even though she was excited and shaky, didn’t want to be misunderstood on that very important point.

Mrs. Barry, who either hadn’t listened or hadn’t understood, shook Anne’s hank and said kindly, “How are you?”

“I’m well physically although I’m considerably rumpled up in spirit, thank you ma’am,” said Anne gravely. Then, she whispered to Marilla, “There wasn’t anything strange about that, was there, Marilla?”

Diana was sitting on the sofa, reading a book which she dropped when the visitors entered. She was a very pretty girl, with her mother’s black eyes and hair, rosy cheeks, and a happy expression which she must have inherited from her father.

“This is my little girl Diana,” said Mrs. Barry. “Diana, take Anne out into the garden and show her your flowers. It will be better for you than straining your eyes over that book.” She turned to Marilla and said, “she reads way too much. And I can’t stop her because her father encourages it. She’s always got her head in a book. I’m glad she has the prospect of a playmate. Hopefully it will get her outside more often.”

Outside in the garden, which was full of mellow light from the sunset over the forest, Anne and Diana stood. They looked at each other shyly next to beautiful tiger lilies.

The Barry garden was a grand field of flowers which would have normally delighted Anne’s heart. It was encircled by huge willow trees and tall fir trees. Thriving in the shade of the trees, red flowers were running riot. There were rosy bleeding hearts and large crimson peonies. There were sweet Scotch roses, pink and blue columbines, blue Bouncing Bets, clumps of ribbon grass and mint, sunny daffodils, masses of white clovers, and white musk flowers. Sunshine seemed to linger in the garden. Bees hummed around lazily. And the wind purred and rustled through.

However, Anne couldn’t appreciate the garden, yet. Now, this was a moment to discover her destiny.

“Oh, Diana,” said Anne at last, clasping her hands and speaking in a whisper, “oh, do you think you can like me a little? Like me enough to be my best friend?”

Diana laughed. Diana always laughed before she spoke.

“Well, I guess so,” she said. “I’m really glad you’ve come to live at Green Gables. It will be lovely to have somebody to play with. There isn’t any other girl who lives nearby. And I don’t have any older sisters.”

“Will you swear to be my friend forever and ever?” demanded Anne eagerly.

Diana looked shocked.

“You shouldn’t swear. It’s wicked to swear,” she said.

“Oh no, not that kind of swearing. There are two kinds, you know.”

“I only know one kind. A swear is a bad word, isn’t it?” said Diana doubtfully.

“There really is another. Oh, it isn’t wicked at all. It just means vowing and promising sincerly.”

“Oh, well I don’t mind doing that,” agreed Diana, relieved. “How do you do it?”

“We must hold hands, like this,” said Anne seriously. “It should be over running water… Let’s just imagine that there is a little brook here. I’ll say the oath first: I solemnly swear to be faithful to my best friend, Diana Barry, as long as the sun and moon endure. Now, you repeat it with my name.”

Diana repeated the oath with a laugh before and after. Then she said, “You’re a strange girl, Anne. I heard before that you were strange. But now that I’ve met you, I think I’m going to like you.”

When Marilla and Anne went home, Diana escorted them as far as the log bridge. The two girls walked arm in arm. At the brook, they said goodbye with many promises to spend the next afternoon together.

“Well, did you find that Diana was a kindred spirit?” asked Marilla as they went up through the garden of Green Gables.

“Oh yes,” said Anne blissfully. She was totally unconscious of Marilla’s sarcastic words. “Oh Marilla, I’m the happiest girl on Prince Edward Island this very moment. I assure you I’ll say my prayers with complete earnest tonight. Diana and I are going to build a playhouse in Mr. William Bell’s birch grove tomorrow. Can I have those broken dishes that are in the woodshed? Diana’s birthday is in February and mine is in March. Don’t you think that is a very strange coincidence? Diana is going to lend me a book to read. She says it’s perfectly splendid and tremendously exciting. She’s going to show me a place in the woods where rice lilies grow. Don’t you think Diana has very soulful eyes? I wish I had soulful eyes. Diana is going to teach me to sing a song called ‘Nelly in the Hazel Dell.’ She’s going to give me a picture to put up in my room. She says it’s a beautiful picture of a lovely lady in a pale blue silk dress. A sewing machine salesperson gave it to her. I wish I had something to give Diana. I’m an inch taller than Diana, but she is so much plumper. She says she’d like to be thin because it’s so much more graceful, but I think she only said that to make me feel better. We’re going to the shore someday to gather shells. We have agreed that the spring down by the log bridge should be named ‘Dryad’s Bubble.’ Isn’t that such a perfectly elegant name? I read a story once about a spring with that name. A dryad is a grown-up fairy, I think.”

“Well, the only thing I hope is that you won’t talk Diana to death,” said Marilla. “But remember, this was a plan that you came up with by yourself, Anne. You’re not going to play all the time. You’re not even going to play most of the time. You’ll have to do your work and it’ll have to be finished first.”

Anne’s cup of happiness was full, but when she met Matthew, her happiness cup overflowed. He had just come home from a trip to the store in Carmody. He sheepishly took a small parcel from his pocket and handed it to Anne. He gave a guilty look at Marilla.

“I heard you say you like chocolate sweets, so I got you some,” he said.

“Humph,” sniffed Marilla. “It’ll ruin her teeth and stomach. Oh, child, don’t look so sad. You can eat them, since Matthew went out of his way to get them. He should have brought you peppermints. They’re healthier. Don’t make yourself sick by eating them all at once.”

“Oh, no, I won’t,” said Anne eagerly. “I’ll just eat one tonight, Marilla. And I can give Diana half of them, can’t I? The other half will taste twice as sweet to me if I give some to her. It’s delightful to think I have something to share with her.”

When Anne had gone to her room, Marilla turned to Matthew and said, “Well, at least I can say that she isn’t stingy. I’m glad for that. Of all the faults that children can have, I detest stinginess the most. Dear me, it’s only been three weeks since she came, but it seems as if she’s been here forever. I can’t imagine the place without her. Now, don’t put on that ‘I told you so’ face, Matthew. I hate that face. I’m perfectly willing to admit that I’m glad we decided to keep the child. I’m getting fond of her, but you shouldn’t act smug, Matthew Cuthbert.”

About this story:

Anne of Green Gables was written in 1908 by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Here, it is rewritten by Judy Shinohara for advanced English learners to enjoy.

Published by Judy Shinohara

Hello! I’m Judy, living in Japan. I write fun stories for people who are studying English. I also teach English and study Japanese.

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