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Patty's Place on a Wintery Friday Evening

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The denizens of Patty's Place were restless. It was early in the semester, but winter was a hard time to be out and doing to everyone's satisfaction. Phil and Stella had encouraged Priscilla and Anne to take a physical education course in addition to their regular studies, and Aunt Jimsie had concurred.

"If you don't work out your youth, one night I will find you crawling the walls or swinging from the chandeliers."

Anne kissed her cheek. "We aren't such hoydens as all that, but I admit, I've been tempted to buy a gramophone so we could dance."

Phil looked up from her book. "There will be plenty of dances, Queen Anne. And that money could be better spent on fabric for pretty new dresses to wear to them."

"Not all of us have your allowance. I will ask you to help me remake my green velvet so that it's more a la mode."

Phil shook her head. "It's too strong a color for you. I'll trade you, though, I have a marvelous dress, sort of bronze color, whose fabric would make you bewitching, and you can make over the green velvet for me."

Stella said, "Of all the impertinence. You can buy a green velvet and still let Anne have the copper satin -- it really is more of a copper Anne, and it really isn't the best color on Phil."

"It was a gift, my dears. I should never have bought it myself. And it's yours Anne."

Anne called to their fourth, "What do you think, Priscilla, should I make the exchange?"

Priscilla turned back to the room. "I think the snow has stopped. I also think I see several of Phil's young men coming for Friday evening."

Phil sighed. "How could they? They must have left while it still looked a blizzard."

Aunt Jimsie looked up from her needlework. "And speaking of blizzards, this room looks like it's been through one."

The girls looked around at their notes laying everywhere. They'd been studying intently since the day had not allowed for many other activities.

There was a knock at the door and the girls glanced at each other in a panic. Finally, Anne said, "There's space in the yard, and plenty of snow. We can build snowmen."

Once again, someone knocked.

Phil said, "It's better than meeting them in here. Priscilla, be a dear and answer the door."

"Why me?"

"Well, you're not planning to come out to the garden are you?"

"No."

"Then it's obvious, you'll tell them where to go because we're getting our coats on."

There was another knock. Priscilla went to get it, while Phil scrambled up the stairs for her heaviest scarf.

***
Throughout the evening, Priscilla stayed on door duty. Her main suitor phoned her for a little while, but she was pleased he had the good sense to stay home on an evening like this. As other men stopped by, mostly for Phil, but one for Stella and two for Anne as well, she directed them to the back yard.

After her beau's call, she headed to the kitchen. The apple cake Anne had made earlier was cool enough to frost, and she warmed some cider and milk for the end of the outdoor adventure.

***
They'd begun by taking out lanterns to hang, so they could see what they were doing. Snow people were vetoed for a snowball fight and teams were chosen -- and added to with new visitors -- as they made rudimentary forts and ammunition.

Phil threw the first snowball, hitting one of her beaus smack in the chest. It was a general signal for all of them to throw, and the teams were quickly forgotten as they threw the packed snow and chased each other around the yard and the orchard. It wasn't very Spofford Avenue, running and shrieking with laughter as snow slithered down various necks, but it was exhilarating after being cooped up the whole day.

At one point, Anne slipped and was caught by Gilbert, who'd come later in the evening with one of his friends who was courting Phil.

"I'm here to see Stella and Phil."

Anne nodded and said, "You're welcome any time, Gilbert, for your own sake with no excuse necessary."

"I… " They were both aware of his hands at her waist, where he'd checked her fall. "Anne, please…"

Her face closed off quickly. "Thank you for your help."

Gilbert took a step back, "It was nothing."

Their eyes were still locked when Priscilla came out the back door. "There's cake, cookies, cider, and cocoa in the kitchen. Come in and get warm before the gentlemen need to go home."

Anne averted her eyes first and walked briskly up to her friend, "How can I help?"

"Come on in and help me serve."

The sweets and warm drinks were popular as was the cozy fire in the parlor. Anne glanced at Aunt Jimsie, and raised an eyebrow. There was a small nod, and Anne smiled to herself. The party broke up soon after what with the snow making the journeys home more difficult.

Goodbyes were said, and, very quickly, it was just the five of them and the cats. Phil stretched out with a cushion under her head right in front of the fire. "I will sleep very well tonight. I am replete with cider and apple cake and fresh air and exercise."

Anne took the chair nearest her and said, "That was the point, dear heart. Though I must say, Aunt Jimsie, you and Priscilla made this room respectable in short order."

"Well Priscilla was kind enough to take all of your notes upstairs and the books are on the shelves higgledy-piggledy. There was just time to dust a little while Priscilla took care of the food."

Anne took Priscilla's hand as she walked past. "It was lovely. Thank you both."

"I'm just happy you'd baked that cake, Anne. The cookies were left from Wednesday, fortunately."

Stella snored softly from the couch and Priscilla woke her. "Come on, sleepy head, you'll get a cramp if you fall asleep here."

"Good night," Stella said.

Aunt Jimsie said, "I shall follow the good example set by Stella and Priscilla. You two bank the fire when you go upstairs."

"We will," Phil said.

"Anne will, you mean."

Phil grinned. "I may be useless, but I am decorative."

Aunt Jimsie chuckled her way out of the room.

They stayed by the fire listening to the crackle for awhile. Anne said, "I don't think the green velvet can be made over for you. You're just enough taller and it's a very short hemmed."

"The bronze or copper or whatever color dress is yours. Maybe if I find a complementary fabric we can do something with the… no. Make the green velvet over for yourself. You deserve more than one winter gown, and heaven knows I have plenty."

"You're a generous soul, Phil."

"Hmmm. I saw Gilbert here this evening."

"He said he'd come to see you and Stella."

"I'm sure he did. But the way you looked at him…"

Anne sighed, "Is the way I look at a friend. He's home to me, same as Charlie Sloane or Moody Spurgeon MacPherson."

Phil snorted, "Gilbert Blythe is nothing like either of those two boys, worthy and home-like as I'm sure they are. He's a man. He loves you."

"And I don't love him, not that way. Please don't press it, Phil."

"I won't." She stood up and put the cushion back in its place. "For all Aunt Jimsie's railing, I can bank a fire. Would you like me to?"

"Please. I'm going to warm a last cup of cocoa to take up with me. Would you like one, too?"

"Thank you. And thank you for the perfect way to wear out my beaus. I won't be surprised if they sleep through their Saturdays."

Anne came back with the quickly warmed cocoa. "To bed with us, or we'll do the same."