Anne of the Island – Chapter 3: Greeting and Farewell

Charlie Sloane, Gilbert Blythe and Anne Shirley left Avonlea the following Monday morning. Anne had hoped for a fine day. Diana was to drive her to the station and they wanted this, their last drive together for some time, to be a pleasant one. But when Anne went to bed Sunday night the east wind was moaning around Green Gables with an ominous prophecy which was fulfilled in the morning. Anne awoke to find raindrops pattering against her window and shadowing the pond’s gray surface with widening rings; hills and sea were hidden in mist, and the whole world seemed dim and dreary. Anne dressed in the cheerless gray dawn, for an early start was necessary to catch the boat train; she struggled against the tears that would well up in her eyes in spite of herself. She was leaving the home that was so dear to her, and something told her that she was leaving it forever, save as a holiday refuge. Things would never be the same again; coming back for vacations would not be living there. And oh, how dear and beloved everything was—that little white porch room, sacred to the dreams of girlhood, the old Snow Queen at the window, the brook in the hollow, the Dryad’s Bubble, the Haunted Woods, and Lover’s Lane—all the thousand and one dear spots where memories of the old years bided. Could she ever be really happy anywhere else?

Breakfast at Green Gables that morning was a rather doleful meal. Davy, for the first time in his life probably, could not eat, but blubbered shamelessly over his porridge. Nobody else seemed to have much appetite, save Dora, who tucked away her rations comfortably. Dora, like the immortal and most prudent Charlotte, who “went on cutting bread and butter” when her frenzied lover’s body had been carried past on a shutter, was one of those fortunate creatures who are seldom disturbed by anything. Even at eight it took a great deal to ruffle Dora’s placidity. She was sorry Anne was going away, of course, but was that any reason why she should fail to appreciate a poached egg on toast? Not at all. And, seeing that Davy could not eat his, Dora ate it for him.

Promptly on time Diana appeared with horse and buggy, her rosy face glowing above her raincoat. The good-byes had to be said then somehow. Mrs. Lynde came in from her quarters to give Anne a hearty embrace and warn her to be careful of her health, whatever she did. Marilla, brusque and tearless, pecked Anne’s cheek and said she supposed they’d hear from her when she got settled. A casual observer might have concluded that Anne’s going mattered very little to her—unless said observer had happened to get a good look in her eyes. Dora kissed Anne primly and squeezed out two decorous little tears; but Davy, who had been crying on the back porch step ever since they rose from the table, refused to say good-bye at all. When he saw Anne coming towards him he sprang to his feet, bolted up the back stairs, and hid in a clothes closet, out of which he would not come. His muffled howls were the last sounds Anne heard as she left Green Gables.

It rained heavily all the way to Bright River, to which station they had to go, since the branch line train from Carmody did not connect with the boat train. Charlie and Gilbert were on the station platform when they reached it, and the train was whistling. Anne had just time to get her ticket and trunk check, say a hurried farewell to Diana, and hasten on board. She wished she were going back with Diana to Avonlea; she knew she was going to die of homesickness. And oh, if only that dismal rain would stop pouring down as if the whole world were weeping over summer vanished and joys departed! Even Gilbert’s presence brought her no comfort, for Charlie Sloane was there, too, and Sloanishness could be tolerated only in fine weather. It was absolutely insufferable in rain.

But when the boat steamed out of Charlottetown harbor things took a turn for the better. The rain ceased and the sun began to burst out goldenly now and again between the rents in the clouds, burnishing the gray seas with copper-hued radiance, and lighting up the mists that curtained the Island’s red shores with gleams of gold foretokening a fine day after all. Besides, Charlie Sloane promptly became so seasick that he had to go below, and Anne and Gilbert were left alone on deck.

“I am very glad that all the Sloanes get seasick as soon as they go on water,” thought Anne mercilessly. “I am sure I couldn’t take my farewell look at the ‘ould sod’ with Charlie standing there pretending to look sentimentally at it, too.”

“Well, we’re off,” remarked Gilbert unsentimentally.

“Yes, I feel like Byron’s ‘Childe Harold’—only it isn’t really my ‘native shore’ that I’m watching,” said Anne, winking her gray eyes vigorously. “Nova Scotia is that, I suppose. But one’s native shore is the land one loves the best, and that’s good old P.E.I. for me. I can’t believe I didn’t always live here. Those eleven years before I came seem like a bad dream. It’s seven years since I crossed on this boat—the evening Mrs. Spencer brought me over from Hopetown. I can see myself, in that dreadful old wincey dress and faded sailor hat, exploring decks and cabins with enraptured curiosity. It was a fine evening; and how those red Island shores did gleam in the sunshine. Now I’m crossing the strait again. Oh, Gilbert, I do hope I’ll like Redmond and Kingsport, but I’m sure I won’t!”

“Where’s all your philosophy gone, Anne?”

“It’s all submerged under a great, swamping wave of loneliness and homesickness. I’ve longed for three years to go to Redmond—and now I’m going—and I wish I weren’t! Never mind! I shall be cheerful and philosophical again after I have just one good cry. I must have that, ‘as a went’—and I’ll have to wait until I get into my boardinghouse bed tonight, wherever it may be, before I can have it. Then Anne will be herself again. I wonder if Davy has come out of the closet yet.”

It was nine that night when their train reached Kingsport, and they found themselves in the blue-white glare of the crowded station. Anne felt horribly bewildered, but a moment later she was seized by Priscilla Grant, who had come to Kingsport on Saturday.

“Here you are, beloved! And I suppose you’re as tired as I was when I got here Saturday night.”

“Tired! Priscilla, don’t talk of it. I’m tired, and green, and provincial, and only about ten years old. For pity’s sake take your poor, broken-down chum to some place where she can hear herself think.”

“I’ll take you right up to our boardinghouse. I’ve a cab ready outside.”

“It’s such a blessing you’re here, Prissy. If you weren’t I think I should just sit down on my suitcase, here and now, and weep bitter tears. What a comfort one familiar face is in a howling wilderness of strangers!”