Anne, walking home from school
through the Birch Path one November
afternoon, felt convinced afresh
that life was a very wonderful
thing. The day had been a good
day; all had gone well in her
little kingdom. St. Clair Donnell
had not fought any of the other
boys over the question of his
name; Prillie Rogerson's face
had been so puffed up from the
effects of toothache that she
did not once try to coquette
with the boys in her vicinity.
Barbara Shaw had met with only
ONE accident. . .spilling a dipper
of water over the floor. . .and
Anthony Pye had not been in school
"What a nice month this November
has been!" said Anne, who had
never quite got over her childish
habit of talking to herself. "November
is usually such a disagreeable
month. . .as if the year had
suddenly found out that she was
growing old and could do nothing
but weep and fret over it. This
year is growing old gracefully.
. .just like a stately old lady
who knows she can be charming
even with gray hair and wrinkles.
We've had lovely days and delicious
twilights. This last fortnight
has been so peaceful, and even
Davy has been almost well-behaved.
I really think he is improving
a great deal. How quiet the woods
are today. . . not a murmur except
that soft wind purring in the
treetops! It sounds like surf
on a faraway shore. How dear
the woods are! You beautiful
trees! I love every one of you
as a friend."
Anne paused to throw her arm
about a slim young birch and
kiss its cream-white trunk. Diana,
rounding a curve in the path,
saw her and laughed.
you're only pretending to be
grown up. I
believe when you're alone you're
as much a little girl as you
"Well, one can't get over the
habit of being a little girl
all at once," said Anne gaily. "You
see, I was little for fourteen
years and I've only been grown-uppish
for scarcely three. I'm sure
I shall always feel like a child
in the woods. These walks home
from school are almost the only
time I have for dreaming. . .
except the half-hour or so before
I go to sleep. I'm so busy with
teaching and studying and helping
Marilla with the twins that I
haven't another moment for imagining
things. You don't know what splendid
adventures I have for a little
while after I go to bed in the
east gable every night. I always
imagine I'm something very brilliant
and triumphant and splendid.
. . a great prima donna or a
Red Cross nurse or a queen. Last
night I was a queen. It's really
splendid to imagine you are a
queen. You have all the fun of
it without any of the inconveniences
and you can stop being a queen
whenever you want to, which you
couldn't in real life. But here
in the woods I like best to imagine
quite different things. . .I'm
a dryad living in an old pine,
or a little brown wood-elf hiding
under a crinkled leaf. That white
birch you caught me kissing is
a sister of mine. The only difference
is, she's a tree and I'm a girl,
but that's no real difference.
Where are you going, Diana?"
"Down to the
Dicksons. I promised to help
Alberta cut out her new
dress. Can't you walk down in
the evening, Anne, and come home
"I might. . .since Fred Wright
is away in town," said Anne with
a rather too innocent face.
Diana blushed, tossed her head,
and walked on. She did not look
Anne fully intended to go down
to the Dicksons' that evening,
but she did not. When she arrived
at Green Gables she found a state
of affairs which banished every
other thought from her mind.
Marilla met her in the yard.
. .a wild-eyed Marilla.
"Dora! Lost!" Anne looked at
Davy, who was swinging on the
yard gate, and detected merriment
in his eyes. "Davy, do you know
where she is?"
"No, I don't," said Davy stoutly. "I
haven't seen her since dinner
time, cross my heart."
"I've been away ever since
one o'clock," said Marilla. "Thomas
Lynde took sick all of a sudden
and Rachel sent up for me to
go at once. When I left here
Dora was playing with her doll
in the kitchen and Davy was making
mud pies behind the barn. I only
got home half an hour ago . .
.and no Dora to be seen. Davy
declares he never saw her since
"Neither I did," avowed
"She must be somewhere around," said
Anne. "She would never wander
far away alone. . .you know how
timid she is. Perhaps she has
fallen asleep in one of the rooms."
Marilla shook her head.
the whole house through. But
she may be in some
of the buildings."
A thorough search followed.
Every corner of house, yard,
and outbuildings was ransacked
by those two distracted people.
Anne roved the orchards and the
Haunted Wood, calling Dora's
name. Marilla took a candle and
explored the cellar. Davy accompanied
each of them in turn, and was
fertile in thinking of places
where Dora could possibly be.
Finally they met again in the
"It's a most mysterious thing," groaned
"Where can she be?" said
"Maybe she's tumbled into the
well," suggested Davy cheerfully.
Anne and Marilla looked fearfully
into each other's eyes. The thought
had been with them both through
their entire search but neither
had dared to put it into words.
"She. . .she might have," whispered
Anne, feeling faint and sick,
went to the wellbox and peered
over. The bucket sat on the shelf
inside. Far down below was a
tiny glimmer of still water.
The Cuthbert well was the deepest
in Avonlea. If Dora. . .but Anne
could not face the idea. She
shuddered and turned away.
"Run across for Mr. Harrison," said
Marilla, wringing her hands.
and John Henry are both away.
. .they went to
town today. I'll go for Mr. Barry."
Mr. Barry came back with Anne,
carrying a coil of rope to which
was attached a claw-like instrument
that had been the business end
of a grubbing fork. Marilla and
Anne stood by, cold and shaken
with horror and dread, while
Mr. Barry dragged the well, and
Davy, astride the gate, watched
the group with a face indicative
of huge enjoyment.
Finally Mr. Barry shook his
head, with a relieved air.
be down there. It's a mighty
curious thing where
she could have got to, though.
Look here, young man, are you
sure you've no idea where your
"I've told you a dozen times
that I haven't," said Davy, with
an injured air. "Maybe a tramp
come and stole her."
"Nonsense," said Marilla sharply,
relieved from her horrible fear
of the well. "Anne, do you suppose
she could have strayed over to
Mr. Harrison's? She has always
been talking about his parrot
ever since that time you took
"I can't believe Dora would
venture so far alone but I'll
go over and see," said Anne.
Nobody was looking at Davy
just then or it would have been
seen that a very decided change
came over his face. He quietly
slipped off the gate and ran,
as fast as his fat legs could
carry him, to the barn.
Anne hastened across the fields
to the Harrison establishment
in no very hopeful frame of mind.
The house was locked, the window
shades were down, and there was
no sign of anything living about
the place. She stood on the veranda
and called Dora loudly.
Ginger, in the kitchen behind
her, shrieked and swore with
sudden fierceness; but between
his outbursts Anne heard a plaintive
cry from the little building
in the yard which served Mr.
Harrison as a toolhouse. Anne
flew to the door, unhasped it,
and caught up a small mortal
with a tearstained face who was
sitting forlornly on an upturned
Dora, what a fright you have
given us! How came you
to be here?"
"Davy and I came over to see
Ginger," sobbed Dora, "but we
couldn't see him after all, only
Davy made him swear by kicking
the door. And then Davy brought
me here and run out and shut
the door; and I couldn't get
out. I cried and cried, I was
frightened, and oh, I'm so hungry
and cold; and I thought you'd
never come, Anne."
Anne could say no more. She
carried Dora home
with a heavy heart. Her joy at
finding the child safe and sound
was drowned out in the pain caused
by Davy's behavior. The freak
of shutting Dora up might easily
have been pardoned. But Davy
had told falsehoods. . .downright
coldblooded falsehoods about
it. That was the ugly fact and
Anne could not shut her eyes
to it. She could have sat down
and cried with sheer disappointment.
She had grown to love Davy dearly.
. .how dearly she had not known
until this minute. . .and it
hurt her unbearably to discover
that he was guilty of deliberate
Marilla listened to Anne's
tale in a silence that boded
no good Davy-ward; Mr. Barry
laughed and advised that Davy
be summarily dealt with. When
he had gone home Anne soothed
and warmed the sobbing, shivering
Dora, got her her supper and
put her to bed. Then she returned
to the kitchen, just as Marilla
came grimly in, leading, or rather
pulling, the reluctant, cobwebby
Davy, whom she had just found
hidden away in the darkest corner
of the stable.
She jerked him to the mat on
the middle of the floor and then
went and sat down by the east
window. Anne was sitting limply
by the west window. Between them
stood the culprit. His back was
toward Marilla and it was a meek,
subdued, frightened back; but
his face was toward Anne and
although it was a little shamefaced
there was a gleam of comradeship
in Davy's eyes, as if he knew
he had done wrong and was going
to be punished for it, but could
count on a laugh over it all
with Anne later on.
But no half hidden smile answered
him in Anne's gray eyes, as there
might have done had it been only
a question of mischief. There
was something else. . .something
ugly and repulsive.
"How could you behave so, Davy?" she
Davy squirmed uncomfortably.
"I just did
it for fun. Things have been
so awful quiet here
for so long that I thought it
would be fun to give you folks
a big scare. It was, too."
In spite of fear and a little
remorse Davy grinned over the
"But you told a falsehood about
it, Davy," said Anne, more sorrowfully
Davy looked puzzled.
"What's a falsehood?
Do you mean a whopper?"
"I mean a story
that was not true."
"Course I did," said Davy frankly. "If
I hadn't you wouldn't have been
scared. I HAD to tell it."
Anne was feeling the reaction
from her fright and exertions.
Davy's impenitent attitude gave
the finishing touch. Two big
tears brimmed up in her eyes.
"Oh, Davy, how could you?" she
said, with a quiver in her voice. "Don't
you know how wrong it was?"
Davy was aghast. Anne crying.
. .he had made Anne cry! A flood
of real remorse rolled like a
wave over his warm little heart
and engulfed it. He rushed to
Anne, hurled himself into her
lap, flung his arms around her
neck, and burst into tears.
"I didn't know it was wrong
to tell whoppers," he sobbed. "How
did you expect me to know it
was wrong? All Mr. Sprott's children
told them REGULAR every day,
and cross their hearts too. I
s'pose Paul Irving never tells
whoppers and here I've been trying
awful hard to be as good as him,
but now I s'pose you'll never
love me again. But I think you
might have told me it was wrong.
I'm awful sorry I've made you
cry, Anne, and I'll never tell
a whopper again."
Davy buried his face in Anne's
shoulder and cried stormily.
Anne, in a sudden glad flash
of understanding, held him tight
and looked over his curly thatch
know it was wrong to tell falsehoods,
I think we must forgive him for
that part of it this time if
he will promise never to say
what isn't true again."
"I never will, now that I know
it's bad," asseverated Davy between
sobs. "If you ever catch me telling
a whopper again you can. . ." Davy
groped mentally for a suitable
penance. . ."you can skin me
"Don't say `whopper,' Davy.
. .say `falsehood,'" said the
"Why?" queried Davy, settling
comfortably down and looking
up with a tearstained, investigating
face. "Why ain't whopper as good
as falsehood? I want to know.
It's just as big a word."
and it's wrong for little boys
to use slang."
"There's an awful lot of things
it's wrong to do," said Davy
with a sigh. "I never s'posed
there was so many. I'm sorry
it's wrong to tell whop. . .
falsehoods, 'cause it's awful
handy, but since it is I'm never
going to tell any more. What
are you going to do to me for
telling them this time? I want
to know." Anne looked beseechingly
"I don't want to be too hard
on the child," said Marilla. "I
daresay nobody ever did tell
him it was wrong to tell lies,
and those Sprott children were
no fit companions for him. Poor
Mary was too sick to train him
properly and I presume you couldn't
expect a six-year-old child to
know things like that by instinct.
I suppose we'll just have to
assume he doesn't know ANYTHING
right and begin at the beginning.
But he'll have to be punished
for shutting Dora up, and I can't
think of any way except to send
him to bed without his supper
and we've done that so often.
Can't you suggest something else,
Anne? I should think you ought
to be able to, with that imagination
you're always talking of."
"But punishments are so horrid
and I like to imagine only pleasant
things," said Anne, cuddling
Davy. "There are so many unpleasant
things in the world already that
there is no use in imagining
In the end Davy was sent to
bed, as usual, there to remain
until noon next day. He evidently
did some thinking, for when Anne
went up to her room a little
later she heard him calling her
name softly. Going in, she found
him sitting up in bed, with his
elbows on his knees and his chin
propped on his hands.
"Anne," he said solemnly, "is
it wrong for everybody to tell
whop. . . falsehoods? I want
"Is it wrong
for a grown-up person?"
"Then," said Davy decidedly, "Marilla
is bad, for SHE tells them. And
she's worse'n me, for I didn't
know it was wrong but she does."
"Davy Keith, Marilla never
told a story in her life," said
"She did so. She told me last
Tuesday that something dreadful
WOULD happen to me if I didn't
say my prayers every night. And
I haven't said them for over
a week, just to see what would
happen. . . and nothing has," concluded
Davy in an aggrieved tone.
Anne choked back a mad desire
to laugh with the conviction
that it would be fatal, and then
earnestly set about saving Marilla's
"Why, Davy Keith," she said
solemnly, "something dreadful
HAS happened to you this very
Davy looked sceptical.
"I s'pose you mean being sent
to bed without any supper," he
said scornfully, "but THAT isn't
dreadful. Course, I don't like
it, but I've been sent to bed
so much since I come here that
I'm getting used to it. And you
don't save anything by making
me go without supper either,
for I always eat twice as much
"I don't mean your being sent
to bed. I mean the fact that
you told a falsehood today. And,
Davy,". . .Anne leaned over the
footboard of the bed and shook
her finger impressively at the
culprit. . ."for a boy to tell
what isn't true is almost the
worst thing that could HAPPEN
to him. . .almost the very worst.
So you see Marilla told you the
"But I thought the something
bad would be exciting," protested
Davy in an injured tone.
to blame for what you thought.
aren't always exciting. They're
very often just nasty and stupid."
"It was awful funny to see
Marilla and you looking down
the well, though," said Davy,
hugging his knees.
Anne kept a sober face until
she got downstairs and then she
collapsed on the sitting room
lounge and laughed until her
"I wish you'd tell me the joke," said
Marilla, a little grimly. "I
haven't seen much to laugh at
"You'll laugh when you hear
this," assured Anne. And Marilla
did laugh, which showed how much
her education had advanced since
the adoption of Anne. But she
sighed immediately afterwards.
I shouldn't have told him that,
although I heard
a minister say it to a child
once. But he did aggravate me
so. It was that night you were
at the Carmody concert and I
was putting him to bed. He said
he didn't see the good of praying
until he got big enough to be
of some importance to God. Anne,
I do not know what we are going
to do with that child. I never
saw his beat. I'm feeling clean
say that, Marilla. Remember
how bad I was when I
never were bad. . .NEVER. I
see that now, when
I've learned what real badness
is. You were always getting into
terrible scrapes, I'll admit,
but your motive was always good.
Davy is just bad from sheer love
"Oh, no, I don't think it is
real badness with him either," pleaded
Anne. "It's just mischief. And
it is rather quiet for him here,
you know. He has no other boys
to play with and his mind has
to have something to occupy it.
Dora is so prim and proper she
is no good for a boy's playmate.
I really think it would be better
to let them go to school, Marilla."
"No," said Marilla resolutely, "my
father always said that no child
should be cooped up in the four
walls of a school until it was
seven years old, and Mr. Allan
says the same thing. The twins
can have a few lessons at home
but go to school they shan't
till they're seven."
"Well, we must try to reform
Davy at home then," said Anne
cheerfully. "With all his faults
he's really a dear little chap.
I can't help loving him. Marilla,
it may be a dreadful thing to
say, but honestly, I like Davy
better than Dora, for all she's
"I don't know but that I do,
myself," confessed Marilla, "and
it isn't fair, for Dora isn't
a bit of trouble. There couldn't
be a better child and you'd hardly
know she was in the house."
"Dora is too good," said Anne. "She'd
behave just as well if there
wasn't a soul to tell her what
to do. She was born already brought
up, so she doesn't need us; and
I think," concluded Anne, hitting
on a very vital truth, "that
we always love best the people
who need us. Davy needs us badly."
"He certainly needs something," agreed
Marilla. "Rachel Lynde would
say it was a good spanking."