Or: Concerning raspberry cordial…
“You clutter up your room entirely too much with out-of-doors stuff, Anne. Bedrooms were made to sleep in.”
“Oh, and dream in, too, Marilla. And you know one can dream so much better in a room where there are pretty things. I’m going to put these boughs in the old blue jug and set them on my table.”
Marilla still hasn’t come around to Anne’s aesthetic tastes (mostly because it largely involves tracking leaves into the house), but she’s at least able to sense her desire to have Diana over to tea, which is just as well.
So Anne subsequently invites Diana over, and they both don their second best dresses and act all elegant and proper (aside from picking apples in the orchard).
Marilla told Anne she could serve Diana some raspberry cordial…
Diana poured herself out a tumblerful, looked at its bright red hue admiringly, and then sipped it daintily.
“That’s awful nice raspberry cordial, Anne,” she said. “I didn’t know raspberry cordial was so nice.”
Anne regales her friend with some of her cooking-related misadventures (including forgetting to put flour in a cake and letting a mouse drown in pudding sauce), but Diana is surprisingly uninterested, even when she relates to her a pathetic tale about Diana getting smallpox and Anne taking ill and dying after she’d nursed her back to health.
Diana stood up very unsteadily; then she sat down again, putting her hands to her head.
“I’m- I’m awful sick,” she said, a little thickly. “I- I- must go right home.”
“Oh, you mustn’t dream of going home without your tea,” cried Anne in distress. “I’ll get it right off – I’ll go and put the tea down this very minute.”
“I must go home,” repeated Diana, stupidly but determinedly.
But Diana going home without her tea isn’t the titular tragedy. That doesn’t come to light until Anne runs an errand to Mrs. Lynde’s house the next day.
“Mrs. Lynde was up to see Mrs. Barry today and Mrs. Barry was in an awful state,” she wailed. “She says that I set Diana drunk Saturday and sent her home in a disgraceful condition. She says I must be a thoroughly bad, wicked little girl and she’s never, never going to let Diana play with me again. Oh Marilla, I’m just overcome with woe.”
Upon further investigation, Marilla discovers that the bottle in the pantry was in fact some of her currant wine which she kept for medicinal purposes. Marilla, realizing that she was mostly to blame for the situation, offers to go and smooth things over with Mrs. Barry. It doesn’t go quite as planned.
“Oh, Marilla, I know by your face that it’s been no use,” she said sorrowfully. “Mrs. Barry won’t forgive me?”
“Mrs. Barry indeed!” snapped Marilla. “Of all the unreasonable women I ever saw she’s the worst. I told her it was all a mistake and you weren’t to blame, but she simply didn’t believe me. And she rubbed it well in about my currant wine and how I’d always said it couldn’t have the least effect on anybody. I just told her plainly that currant wine wasn’t meant to be drunk three tumblerfuls at a time and that if a child I had to do with was so greedy I’d sober her up with a right good spanking.”
I mean, it’s poor form to criticize a mother’s child rearing techniques, but Marilla is understandably angry and hence not inclined to be particularly forgiving. Thus Anne pleas her suit to Mrs. Barry directly, but to no avail.
This speech, which would have softened good Mrs. Lynde’s heart in a twinkling, had no effect on Mrs. Barry except to irritate her still more. She was suspicious of Anne’s big words and dramatic gestures and imagined that the child was making fun of her. So she said, coldly and cruelly:
“I don’t think you are a fir little girl for Diana to associate with. You’d better go home and behave yourself.”
Marilla does have a laugh at Anne’s misfortunes, just because she has such a genius for getting into trouble, but she still sympathizes with the girl.
“Poor little soul,” she murmured, lifting a loose curl of hair from the child’s tear-stained face. Then she bent down and kissed the flushed chook on the pillow.
Until next time…