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Of Cornerstones in Wonderland

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I.

Davy ran into the house as fast as his little legs could carry him. Miss Marilla, who had come to visit again today, always reminded him to take off his shoes, but those words were forgotten, forgotten. He'd found such a jolly big snail under a stone near the fence, he had to show it to Mommer now.

It was understandable, wasn't it, that he almost ran into the man by the door.

“Ouf,” said the man, reaching down to steady both of them. It was good luck he did so, thought Davy, after all, he didn't want to let go of his snail! Not before he'd showed it to Mommer, anyhow. But first,

“Who're you?” He must've been so busy looking underneath the stones outside, he hadn't noticed anyone came with Miss Marilla at all!

“I'm Gilbert Blythe,” said the man, “and you must be David.” He wasn't awful old at all, Davy could see now, it couldn't 've been that long since he was a little boy like Davy himself. Still,

“Davy,” corrected Davy, 'cause it was important, but not as important as, “What are you doing here?”

“Gilbert came all this way to bring me a special tea he read about in a journal,” said Mommer. “He is going to be a doctor, Davy.”

Davy looked at the strange man in sudden hope, but he could see the same sadness in his eyes that visitors always had. He remembered that Mommer had seen the doctor lots of times already and there was Nothing that can be done, the poor dear.

“It will be long years of study for me first,” explained Gilbert apologetically. Davy guessed he was probably sad 'cause Mommer would be in heaven when he'd be finished with his studying. But she always said she was tired of being sick, anyhow. And Miss Marilla was nice, even if she was staring at his dirty shoes and looking awful severe.

“It's alright,” he told Gilbert so the man wouldn't blame himself.

“What is it you have in your hand, Davy?” asked Miss Marilla, wishing to talk about happier things. Only then did Davy remember his beautiful snail. Solemn thoughts forgotten, he hopped toward the bench Mommer lay on, and opened his palm for her to see.

Gilbert took a step toward them and bent over Davy's hand also. Davy held absolutely still. After a while, the snail's head appeared. Miss Marilla shuddered at the sight.

“That is one slimy snail you have found there,“ said Gilbert, gentle laughter and mischief in his voice. Mommer reached out a finger and touched it against the tiny house. She smiled.

Davy glowed with pride.

 

II.

Davy was awful glad Gilbert had come to escort Anne to the Andrews' house that day. Gilbert always came to walk with Anne when he was back home, and he always bade her hello like he was expecting her to say she could walk perfectly well by herself!

That afternoon, they were to meet with the people Anne called Avonlea Village Improvement Society and Mrs Lynde called so-called Improvers, for, “Marilla, we must decide on our next project!” Mr Harrison still laughed about their first effort whenever someone brought it up to him, but Davy thought the blue house had improved the village lots.

All this was not why Davy was glad to see Gilbert. He'd been asked not once, but three times since breakfast to be more like Paul Irving, catch him, and now he simply needed to know.

“You're a true gemplum, aren't you, Gilbert. Have you ever pulled a girl's hair?”

For a heartbeat, it looked as if Gilbert would tell a whopper, but he must've been a true gemplum, for he became slightly red in the face and said, “Well, Davy, I must admit that I once did.”

Dora's eyes widened. Davy guessed she couldn't imagine Gilbert doing any such thing. He was always so polite! Across the table, Marilla was hiding a smile, one of those she always denied had ever been on her face. One had to look real hard to spot it, Davy barely could see it at all.

Gilbert was looking at Anne, eyes full of mischief again. “You can rest assured that Anne quickly showed me how grave a mistake I had made.”

“Anne is awful good at that, explaining why things are wrong, 'specially when it's dreadful confusing,” said Davy. He was in a much brighter mood already! Gaily, he went back to the boats he'd made out of peapods.

When the door closed, Davy heard Anne say, “Oh Gilbert, we swore we would never speak of that sorry affair again!” Marilla's eyes were still smiling, so Davy grinned.

 

III.

Anne was at home, and Davy thought it was even better than watching Paul Irving fall into a puddle of mud and winning four of St Clair's marbles at school combined. Davy was awful good friends with the fellows at school, but life was always fuller of sensation when Anne was home.

Even when all they were doing was sit still in a boat, waiting till a hungry fish ate the worm.

Dora sat in her corner with her hands folded in her lap, keeping a keen eye on the water, so calm, calm, calm.

Davy kind of wanted to push her into the pond, just to hear how high she'd squeal. But he'd spotted Gilbert watching them from back on the shore, and anyway Anne'd told them to keep the boat still, 'cause “We do not want to scare the fish away before we can eat them, do we?”

Gilbert was probably too much of a gemplum to push girls into the water, 'specially Anne. Davy didn't think he'd push Anne into the water, not ever. Davy wasn't friends with girls, but that was only 'cause he hadn't found one that wasn't squeamish all the time like Dora and Prillie Rogerson. There was no girl he could like as much as Gilbert liked Anne.

And 'cause Davy liked Gilbert lots more than Paul Irving, he left Dora be, though he really really wanted to hear the scream she'd make.

Just then, there was a tug on the line Davy was holding, and he had to hold on real hard so he didn't end up in the water himself.

“Do you need help?” called Gilbert over the pond.

“I can do it!” shouted Davy. With a mighty haul and a little help from Anne and Dora, he got the fish into the boat.

“Just look how big it is,“ marveled Anne. The fish was flapping around, twisting and turning and gasping. It brushed against Dora's legs and she shrieked 'cause she was a girl. Davy took the large stone he'd collected before and only had to hit the poor creature twice before it went still.

“One could feel rightly sorry,” said Davy when Anne rowed them toward the shore. “But I guess it's better 'n having no air to breathe. A man couldn't breathe underwater, could he, Anne?”

“No, he couldn't and I hope you will promise me you will never try it,” said Anne when they reached the land.

“It looks as if you have caught yourselves a good meal and then some,” said Gilbert, sounding mighty impressed.

“You must come with us for dinner, Gilbert,” said Dora, flushing when he helped her up like the true gemplum he was.

“I would love to, if Marilla does not mind,” answered Gilbert, but he was looking at Anne with the strange, hidden wistfulness that was always there.

“Oh, I don't mind, not at all!” laughed Anne. “Do you see the size of it? However would we achieve to eat it all, even with Davy and Dora both growing?”

Gilbert chuckled, the strange sadness dimmed in his eyes. “Then let us carry Davy's prize back to Green Gables!”

Davy thought it was the best idea he'd heard in ever 'n ever, 'cause “I'm awful hungry after all this ex'cise.”