“Why, Sarah Kirk is a Methodist,” said Miss Cornelia, much as if Susan had suggested a Hottentot as a manse bride.
“She would likely turn Presbyterian if she married Mr. Meredith,” retorted Susan.
Miss Cornelia shook her head. Evidently with her it was, once a Methodist, always a Methodist.
“Sarah Kirk is entirely out of the question,” she said positively. “And so is Emmeline Drew—though the Drews are all trying to make the match. They are literally throwing poor Emmeline at his head, and he hasn’t the least idea of it.”
“Emmeline Drew has no gumption, I must allow,” said Susan. “She is the kind of woman, Mrs. Dr. dear, who would put a hot-water bottle in your bed on a dog-night and then have her feelings hurt because you were not grateful. And her mother was a very poor housekeeper. Did you ever hear the story of her dishcloth? She lost her dishcloth one day. But the next day she found it. Oh, yes, Mrs. Dr. dear, she found it, in the goose at the dinner-table, mixed up with the stuffing. Do you think a woman like that would do for a minister’s mother-in-law? I do not. But no doubt I would be better employed in mending little Jem’s trousers than in talking gossip about my neighbours. He tore them something scandalous last night in Rainbow Valley.”
“Where is Walter?” asked Anne.
“He is up to no good, I fear, Mrs. Dr. dear. He is in the attic writing something in an exercise book. And he has not done as well in arithmetic this term as he should, so the teacher tells me. Too well I know the reason why. He has been writing silly rhymes when he should have been doing his sums. I am afraid that boy is going to be a poet, Mrs. Dr. dear.”
“He is a poet now, Susan.”
“Well, you take it real calm, Mrs. Dr. dear. I suppose it is the best way, when a person has the strength. I had an uncle who began by being a poet and ended up by being a tramp. Our family were dreadfully ashamed of him.”
“You don’t seem to think very highly of poets, Susan,” said Anne, laughing.
“Who does, Mrs. Dr. dear?” asked Susan in genuine astonishment.
“What about Milton and Shakespeare? And the poets of the Bible?”
“They tell me Milton could not get along with his wife, and Shakespeare was no more than respectable by times. As for the Bible, of course things were different in those sacred days— although I never had a high opinion of King David, say what you will. I never knew any good to come of writing poetry, and I hope and pray that blessed boy will outgrow the tendency. If he does not—we must see what emulsion of cod-liver oil will do.”
Miss Cornelia descended upon the manse the next day and cross-questioned Mary, who, being a young person of considerable discernment and astuteness, told her story simple and truthfully, with an entire absence of complaint or bravado. Miss Cornelia was more favourably impressed than she had expected to be, but deemed it her duty to be severe.