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|Chronicles of Avonlea||Lucy Maud Montgomery|
VII. Aunt Olivia's Beau
|Page 7 of 10||
"As if there was going to be a funeral in the house," sniffed Peggy.
Peggy and I were up in the south-west room at dusk that evening, piecing a quilt, when we heard Mr. Malcolm MacPherson shouting out in the hall below to know if anyone was home. I ran out to the landing, but as I did so Aunt Olivia came out of her room, brushed past me, and flitted downstairs.
"Mr. MacPherson," I heard her say with double-distilled primness, "will you please come into the parlour? I have something to say to you."
They went in, and I returned to the south-west room.
"Peg, there's trouble brewing," I said. "I'm sure of it by Aunt Olivia's face, it was GRAY. And she has gone down ALONE-- and shut the door."
"I am going to hear what she says to him," said Peggy resolutely. "It is her own fault--she has spoiled us by always insisting that we should be present at their interviews. That poor man has had to do his courting under our very eyes. Come on, Mary."
The south-west room was directly over the parlour and there was an open stovepipe-hole leading up therefrom. Peggy removed the hat box that was on it, and we both deliberately and shamelessly crouched down and listened with all our might.
It was easy enough to hear what Mr. Malcolm MacPherson was saying.
"I've come up to get the date settled, Nillie, as I told you. Come now, little woman, name the day."
"Don't, Mr. MacPherson," said Aunt Olivia. She spoke as a woman who has keyed herself up to the doing of some very distasteful task and is anxious to have it over and done with as soon as possible. "There is something I must say to you. I cannot marry you, Mr. MacPherson."
There was a pause. I would have given much to have seen the pair of them. When Mr. Malcolm MacPherson spoke his voice was that of blank, uncomprehending amazement.
"Nillie, what is it you are meaning?" he said.
"I cannot marry you, Mr. MacPherson," repeated Aunt Olivia.
"Why not?" Surprise was giving way to dismay.
"I don't think you will understand, Mr. MacPherson," said Aunt Olivia, faintly. "You don't realize what it means for a woman to give up everything--her own home and friends and all her past life, so to speak, and go far away with a stranger."
"Why, I suppose it will be rather hard. But, Nillie, Avonlea isn't very far away--not more than twelve miles, if it will be that."
"Twelve miles! It might as well be at the other side of the world to all intents and purposes," said Aunt Olivia obstinately. "I don't know a living soul there, except Rachel Lynde."
"Why didn't you say so before I bought the place, then? But it's not too late. I can be selling it and buying right here in East Grafton if that will please you--though there isn't half as nice a place to be had. But I'll fix it up somehow!"
"No, Mr. MacPherson," said Aunt Olivia firmly, "that doesn't cover the difficulty. I knew you would not understand. My ways are not your ways and I cannot make them over. For--you track mud in--and--and--you don't care whether things are tidy or not."
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|Chronicles of Avonlea
Lucy Maud Montgomery
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