"To think that this is my twentieth birthday, and that I've left my teens behind me forever," said Anne, who was curled up on the hearth-rug with Rusty in her lap, to Aunt Jamesina who was reading in her pet chair. They were alone in the living room. Stella and Priscilla had gone to a committee meeting and Phil was upstairs adorning herself for a party.
"I suppose you feel kind of, sorry" said Aunt Jamesina. "The teens are such a nice part of life. I'm glad I've never gone out of them myself."
"You never will, Aunty. You'll be eighteen when you should be a hundred. Yes, I'm sorry, and a little dissatisfied as well. Miss Stacy told me long ago that by the time I was twenty my character would be formed, for good or evil. I don't feel that it's what it should be. It's full of flaws."
"So's everybody's," said Aunt Jamesina cheerfully. "Mine's cracked in a hundred places. Your Miss Stacy likely meant that when you are twenty your character would have got its permanent bent in one direction or 'tother, and would go on developing in that line. Don't worry over it, Anne. Do your duty by God and your neighbor and yourself, and have a good time. That's my philosophy and it's always worked pretty well. Where's Phil off to tonight?"
"She's going to a dance, and she's got the sweetest dress for it—creamy yellow silk and cobwebby lace. It just suits those brown tints of hers."
"There's magic in the words 'silk' and 'lace,' isn't there?" said Aunt Jamesina. "The very sound of them makes me feel like skipping off to a dance. And YELLOW silk. It makes one think of a dress of sunshine. I always wanted a yellow silk dress, but first my mother and then my husband wouldn't hear of it. The very first thing I'm going to do when I get to heaven is to get a yellow silk dress."
Amid Anne's peal of laughter Phil came downstairs, trailing clouds of glory, and surveyed herself in the long oval mirror on the wall.
"A flattering looking glass is a promoter of amiability," she said. "The one in my room does certainly make me green. Do I look pretty nice, Anne?"
"Do you really know how pretty you are, Phil?" asked Anne, in honest admiration.
"Of course I do. What are looking glasses and men for? That wasn't what I meant. Are all my ends tucked in? Is my skirt straight? And would this rose look better lower down? I'm afraid it's too high—it will make me look lop-sided. But I hate things tickling my ears."
"Everything is just right, and that southwest dimple of yours is lovely."
"Anne, there's one thing in particular I like about you—you're so ungrudging. There isn't a particle of envy in you."
"Why should she be envious?" demanded Aunt Jamesina. "She's not quite as goodlooking as you, maybe, but she's got a far handsomer nose."
"I know it," conceded Phil.
"My nose always has been a great comfort to me," confessed Anne.
"And I love the way your hair grows on your forehead, Anne. And that one wee curl, always looking as if it were going to drop, but never dropping, is delicious. But as for noses, mine is a dreadful worry to me. I know by the time I'm forty it will be Byrney. What do you think I'll look like when I'm forty, Anne?"
"Like an old, matronly, married woman," teased Anne.
"I won't," said Phil, sitting down comfortably to wait for her escort. "Joseph, you calico beastie, don't you dare jump on my lap. I won't go to a dance all over cat hairs. No, Anne, I WON'T look matronly. But no doubt I'll be married."
"To Alec or Alonzo?" asked Anne.
"To one of them, I suppose," sighed Phil, "if I can ever decide which."
"It shouldn't be hard to decide," scolded Aunt Jamesina.
"I was born a see-saw Aunty, and nothing can ever prevent me from teetering."
"You ought to be more levelheaded, Philippa."
"It's best to be levelheaded, of course," agreed Philippa, "but you miss lots of fun. As for Alec and Alonzo, if you knew them you'd understand why it's difficult to choose between them. They're equally nice."
"Then take somebody who is nicer" suggested Aunt Jamesina. "There's that Senior who is so devoted to you—Will Leslie. He has such nice, large, mild eyes."
"They're a little bit too large and too mild—like a cow's," said Phil cruelly.
"What do you say about George Parker?"
"There's nothing to say about him except that he always looks as if he had just been starched and ironed."
"Marr Holworthy then. You can't find a fault with him."
"No, he would do if he wasn't poor. I must marry a rich man, Aunt Jamesina. That—and good looks—is an indispensable qualification. I'd marry Gilbert Blythe if he were rich."
"Oh, would you?" said Anne, rather viciously.
"We don't like that idea a little bit, although we don't want Gilbert ourselves, oh, no," mocked Phil. "But don't let's talk of disagreeable subjects. I'll have to marry sometime, I suppose, but I shall put off the evil day as long as I can."
"You mustn't marry anybody you don't love, Phil, when all's said and done," said Aunt Jamesina.
"'Oh, hearts that loved in the good old way
Have been out o' the fashion this many a day.'"
trilled Phil mockingly. "There's the carriage. I fly—Bi-bi, you two old-fashioned darlings."
When Phil had gone Aunt Jamesina looked solemnly at Anne.
"That girl is pretty and sweet and goodhearted, but do you think she is quite right in her mind, by spells, Anne?"
"Oh, I don't think there's anything the matter with Phil's mind," said Anne, hiding a smile. "It's just her way of talking."
Aunt Jamesina shook her head.
"Well, I hope so, Anne. I do hope so, because I love her. But I can't understand her—she beats me. She isn't like any of the girls I ever knew, or any of the girls I was myself."
"How many girls were you, Aunt Jimsie?"
"About half a dozen, my dear."