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The Golden Road Lucy Maud Montgomery

We Visit Peg Bowen

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"I suppose he finds it easier to talk to God than to people," suggested Peter reflectively.

"Well, anyway, I belong to the round church," said Peg comfortably, "and so the devil can't catch ME at the corners. I haven't been to Carlisle church for over three years. I thought I'd a-died laughing the last time I was there. Old Elder Marr took up the collection that day. He'd on a pair of new boots and they squeaked all the way up and down the aisles. And every time the boots squeaked the elder made a face, like he had toothache. It was awful funny. How's your missionary quilt coming on, Cecily?"

Was there anything Peg didn't know?

"Very well," said Cecily.

"You can put my name on it, if you want to."

"Oh, thank you. Which section--the five-cent one or the ten-cent one?" asked Cecily timidly.

"The ten-cent one, of course. The best is none too good for me. I'll give you the ten cents another time. I'm short of change just now--not being as rich as Queen Victory. There's her picture up there--the one with the blue sash and diamint crown and the lace curting on her head. Can any of yez tell me this--is Queen Victory a married woman?"

"Oh, yes, but her husband is dead," answered the Story Girl.

"Well, I s'pose they couldn't have called her an old maid, seeing she was a queen, even if she'd never got married. Sometimes I sez to myself, 'Peg, would you like to be Queen Victory?' But I never know what to answer. In summer, when I can roam anywhere in the woods and the sunshine--I wouldn't be Queen Victory for anything. But when it's winter and cold and I can't git nowheres--I feel as if I wouldn't mind changing places with her."

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Peg put her pipe back in her mouth and began to smoke fiercely. The candle wick burned long, and was topped by a little cap of fiery red that seemed to wink at us like an impish gnome. The most grotesque shadow of Peg flickered over the wall behind her. The one-eyed cat remitted his grim watch and went to sleep. Outside the wind screamed like a ravening beast at the window. Suddenly Peg removed her pipe from her mouth, bent forward, gripped my wrist with her sinewy fingers until I almost cried out with pain, and gazed straight into my face. I felt horribly frightened of her. She seemed an entirely different creature. A wild light was in her eyes, a furtive, animal-like expression was on her face. When she spoke it was in a different voice and in different language.

"Do you hear the wind?" she asked in a thrilling whisper. "What IS the wind? What IS the wind?"

"I--I--don't know," I stammered.

"No more do I," said Peg, "and nobody knows. Nobody knows what the wind is. I wish I could find out. I mightn't be so afraid of the wind if I knew what it was. I am afraid of it. When the blasts come like that I want to crouch down and hide me. But I can tell you one thing about the wind--it's the only free thing in the world--THE--ONLY--FREE--THING. Everything else is subject to some law, but the wind is FREE. It bloweth where it listeth and no man can tame it. It's free--that's why I love it, though I'm afraid of it. It's a grand thing to be free--free free--free!"

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The Golden Road
Lucy Maud Montgomery

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