AT DR. LESLIE’S
That evening Dr. Leslie made signs that he was not to be interrupted, and even shut the study doors, to which precaution he seldom resorted. He was evidently disturbed when an hour later a vigorous knocking was heard at the seldom-used front entrance, and Marilla ushered in with anything but triumph an elderly gentleman who had been his college classmate. Marilla’s countenance wore a forbidding expression, and as she withdrew she took pains to shut the door between the hall and dining-room with considerable violence. It was almost never closed under ordinary circumstances, but the faithful housekeeper was impelled to express her wrath in some way, and this was the first that offered itself. Nan was sitting peacefully in the kitchen playing with her black cat and telling herself stories no doubt, and was quite unprepared for Marilla’s change of temper. The bell for the Friday evening prayer-meeting was tolling its last strokes and it was Marilla’s habit to attend that service. She was apt to be kept closely at home, it must be acknowledged, and this was one of her few social indulgences. Since Nan had joined the family and proved that she could be trusted with a message, she had been left in charge of the house during this coveted hour on Friday evenings.
Marilla had descended from her room arrayed for church going, but now her bonnet was pulled off as if that were the prime offender, and when the child looked wonderingly around the kitchen, she saw the bread-box brought out from the closet and put down very hard on a table, while Marilla began directly afterward to rattle at the stove.
“I’d like to say to some folks that we don’t keep hotel,” grumbled the good woman, “I wish to my heart I’d stepped right out o’ the front door and gone straight to meetin’ and left them there beholdin’ of me. Course he hasn’t had no supper, nor dinner neither like’s not, and if men are ever going to drop down on a family unexpected it’s always Friday night when everything’s eat up that ever was in the house. I s’pose, after I bake double quantities to-morrow mornin’, he’ll be drivin’ off before noon-time, and treasure it up that we never have nothin’ decent to set before folks. Anna, you’ve got to stir yourself and help, while I get the fire started up; lay one o’ them big dinner napkins over the red cloth, and set a plate an’ a tea-cup, for as for laying the whole table over again, I won’t and I shan’t. There’s water to cart upstairs and the bed-room to open, but Heaven be thanked I was up there dustin’ to-day, and if ever you set a mug of flowers into one o’ the spare-rooms again and leave it there a week or ten days to spile, I’ll speak about it to the doctor. Now you step out o’ my way like a good girl. I don’t know whether you or the cat’s the worst for gettin’ before me when I’m in a drive. I’ll set him out somethin’ to eat, and then I’m goin’ to meetin’ if the skies fall.”