I’m so glad Mrs. Hammond had three pairs of twins after all…
The events of this chapter are all set up because Mrs. Lynde, Marilla, and the Barrys are all out of town to see the Canadian Premier. Matthew and Anne are cozy in the kitchen (or as cozy as she can be when studying geometry), when Diana appears at the door in a rush. I love how Anne’s first thought is that Mrs. Barry has finally “relented”, but it turns out to be a far more urgent matter.
“Oh, Anne, do come quick,” implored Diana nervously. “Minnie May is awful sick – she’s got croup, Young Mary Joe says – and father and mother are away to town and there’s nobody to go for the doctor. Minnie May is awful bad and Young Mary Joe doesn’t know what to do – and oh, Anne, I’m so scared!”
Matthew, without a word, reached out for cap and coat, slipped past Diana away into the darkness of the yard.
“He’s gone to harness the sorrel mare to go to Carmody for the doctor,” said Anne, who was hurrying on hood and jacket. “I know it as well as if he’d said so. Matthew and I are such kindred spirits I can read his thoughts without words at all.”
Diana points out that that he’ll probably have to search around for a doctor, since basically everyone of importance has gone to meet the Premier, but the chapter isn’t called “Anne to the Rescue” for nothing.
“I know exactly what to do for croup. You forget that Mrs. Hammond had twins three times. When you look after three pairs of twins you naturally get a lot of experience. They all had croup regularly. […]”
The two little girls hastened out hand in hand and hurried toward Lovers’ Lane and across the crusted fields beyond, for the snow was too deep to go by the shorter wood way. Anne, although sincerely sorry for Minnie May, was far from being insensible to the romance of the situation and to the sweetness of once more sharing that romance with a kindred spirit.
This is what Anne lives for.
Minnie May did not take kindly to the ipecac, but Anne had not brought up three pairs of twins for nothing. Down that ipecac went, not only once, but many times during that anxious night when the two girls worked patiently over the suffering Minnie May […].
Matthew doesn’t come back with a doctor until three in the morning, when all the excitement is over,
“I was awfully near giving up in despair,” explained Anne. “She got worse and worse until she was sicker than ever the Hammond twins were, even the last pair. I actually thought she was going to choke to death. I gave her every last drop of ipecac in that bottle, and when the last dose went down, I said to myself – not to Diana or Young Mary Joe, because I didn’t want to worry them any more than they were worried, but I had to say it to myself just to relieve my feelings – ‘This is the last lingering hope and I fear ’tis a vain one.’ But in three minutes she coughed up the phlegm and began to get better right away. You must just imagine my relief, doctor, because I can’t express it in words. You know there are some things that cannot be expressed in words.”
“Yes, I know,” nodded the doctor. He looked at Anne as if he were thinking some things about her that couldn’t be expressed in words. Later on, however, he expressed them to Mr. and Mrs. Barry.
“That little red-headed girl they have over at the Cuthbert’s is as smart as they make ’em. I tell you she saved that baby’s life, for it would have been too late by the time I got here. She seems to have a skill and presence of mind perfectly wonderful in a child of her age. I never saw anything like the eyes of her when she was explaining the case out to me.”
Mrs. Barry wouldn’t believe the words Anne said, but actions speak far louder than words. And she subsequently forgives her for the currant wine incident, inviting Anne to tea to express her gratitude and generally show that she’s buried the hatchet.
“You see before you a perfectly happy person, Marilla,” she announced. “I’m perfectly happy – yes, in spite of my red hair. Just at present I have a soul above red hair. Mrs. Barry kissed me and cried and said she was so sorry and she could never repay me. I felt fearfully embarrassed, Marilla, but I just said as politely as I could, ‘I have no hard feelings for you, Mrs. Barry. I assure you once for all that I did not mean to intoxicate Diana and henceforth I shall cover the past with the mantle of oblivion.’ That was a pretty dignified way of speaking, wasn’t it, Marilla?”
Anne pretty clearly isn’t over it just yet, but she also wants to put the past behind her just as much as Mrs. Barry, so they’ll get along just fine in the future.
Until next time…