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Anne of the Island Lucy Maud Montgomery

"Averil's Atonement"

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Diana prudently refrained from any further criticism, but Mr. Harrison was much harder to please. First he told her there was entirely too much description in the story.

"Cut out all those flowery passages," he said unfeelingly.

Anne had an uncomfortable conviction that Mr. Harrison was right, and she forced herself to expunge most of her beloved descriptions, though it took three re-writings before the story could be pruned down to please the fastidious Mr. Harrison.

"I've left out ALL the descriptions but the sunset," she said at last. "I simply COULDN'T let it go. It was the best of them all."

"It hasn't anything to do with the story," said Mr. Harrison, "and you shouldn't have laid the scene among rich city people. What do you know of them? Why didn't you lay it right here in Avonlea -- changing the name, of course, or else Mrs. Rachel Lynde would probably think she was the heroine."

"Oh, that would never have done," protested Anne. "Avonlea is the dearest place in the world, but it isn't quite romantic enough for the scene of a story."

"I daresay there's been many a romance in Avonlea -- and many a tragedy, too," said Mr. Harrison drily. "But your folks ain't like real folks anywhere. They talk too much and use too high-flown language. There's one place where that DALRYMPLE chap talks even on for two pages, and never lets the girl get a word in edgewise. If he'd done that in real life she'd have pitched him."

"I don't believe it," said Anne flatly. In her secret soul she thought that the beautiful, poetical things said to AVERIL would win any girl's heart completely. Besides, it was gruesome to hear of AVERIL, the stately, queen-like AVERIL, "pitching" any one. AVERIL "declined her suitors."

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"Anyhow," resumed the merciless Mr. Harrison, "I don't see why MAURICE LENNOX didn't get her. He was twice the man the other is. He did bad things, but he did them. Perceval hadn't time for anything but mooning."

"Mooning." That was even worse than "pitching!"

"MAURICE LENNOX was the villain," said Anne indignantly. "I don't see why every one likes him better than PERCEVAL."

"Perceval is too good. He's aggravating. Next time you write about a hero put a little spice of human nature in him."

"AVERIL couldn't have married MAURICE. He was bad."

"She'd have reformed him. You can reform a man; you can't reform a jelly-fish, of course. Your story isn't bad -- it's kind of interesting, I'll admit. But you're too young to write a story that would be worth while. Wait ten years."

Anne made up her mind that the next time she wrote a story she wouldn't ask anybody to criticize it. It was too discouraging. She would not read the story to Gilbert, although she told him about it.

"If it is a success you'll see it when it is published, Gilbert, but if it is a failure nobody shall ever see it."

Marilla knew nothing about the venture. In imagination Anne saw herself reading a story out of a magazine to Marilla, entrapping her into praise of it -- for in imagination all things are possible -- and then triumphantly announcing herself the author.

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Anne of the Island
Lucy Maud Montgomery

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