Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chapter 21: Ew

Avonlea acquires a new minister, and it's quite the small-town event:
"If Marilla, in going down to Mrs. Lynde's that evening, was actuated by any motive save her avowed one of returning the quilting frames she had borrowed the preceding winter, it was an amiable weakness shared by most of the Avonlea people. Many a thing Mrs. Lynde had lent, sometimes never expecting to see it again, came home that night in charge of the borrowers thereof. A new minister, and moreover a minister with a wife, was a lawful object of curiosity in a quiet little country settlement where sensations were few and far between."
I love it when Montgomery goes all dry-humor on us.

Anne, of course, was not left out of the process while the church decided which minister to call:
"These stood or fell by the judgment of the fathers and mothers in Israel; but a certain small, red-haired girl who sat meekly in the corner of the old Cuthbert pew also had her opinions about them and discussed the same in full with Matthew, Marilla always declining from principle to criticize ministers in any shape or form."
Part of the event nature of the minister's arrival is the obligation of every respectable family to invite him and his wife to their homes. Naturally, Anne is the one to feel the pressure.
"It's such a responsibility having a minister's family to tea."
And she subtly adds her own tweaks to Marilla's tea:
"'Mrs. Barry had HER table decorated,' said Anne, who was not entirely guiltless of the wisdom of the serpent, 'and the minister paid her an elegant compliment. He said it was a feast for the eye as well as the palate.'"
And not so subtly:
"Mercy on us, Anne, you've flavored that cake with ANODYNE LINIMENT. I broke the liniment bottle last week and poured what was left into an old empty vanilla bottle. I suppose it's partly my fault—I should have warned you—but for pity's sake why couldn't you have smelled it?"
No one was injured, of course.
"It's meant to be taken internally—although not in cakes."
Which doesn't mean the cake was a successful part of the meal.
"'Well, you'd better go and give that cake to the pigs,' said Marilla. 'It isn't fit for any human to eat, not even Jerry Boute.'"
Yup, couldn't let another chapter pass without getting in a dig at the help. Ah, well. Onward, Marilla!

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