An unexpected laugh is always on time.
I’ve been moving through Lucy Maud Montgomery’s delightful novels about Anne Shirley Cuthbert Blythe, starting with the best-known, Anne of Green Gables, and following our heroine as she grows to adulthood and now motherhood.
I bought the eight-pack of paperback novels and a six-pack of audiobooks via Audible — through trying to figure out the difference, I learned that Montgomery wrote six Anne books between 1908 and 1921 and 15 years later doubled back and wrote the “fourth” book in 1936 and the “sixth” book in 1939; the audiobooks cover the original half-dozen.
I’m reading and listening to the actual fifth book, Rainbow Valley, which finds Anne and her beloved Gilbert with six of the seven children they’ll eventually have. We’re in the early chapters, and Anne is gossiping with two old friends about the new pastor, who is a widower and the father of four precocious children of his own.
When we reach my laugh out loud, Susan Baker is telling Anne about the Reverend Meredith’s daughter Faith, who is 11 when we meet. “She looks like an angel but is a holy terror for mischief,” Susan says and describes what happened when a neighbor brought the Merediths a dozen eggs and a little pail of milk.
“Faith took them and whisked down the cellar with them. Near the bottom of the stairs, she caught her toe and fell the rest of the way, milk and eggs and all. You can imagine the result … But that child came up laughing. ‘I don’t know whether I’m myself or a custard pie,’ she said.”
I honestly don’t know precisely why, but Faith’s reaction to her mishap produced a guffaw as I cruised down Highway 57. Anne decides she’s going to like the little girl, and I’m with her.
Montgomery has a wonderful light touch in these books, and I find myself smiling — and, as you see, occasionally laughing out loud — during these visits to Prince Edward Island of a century ago. They make me want to visit P.E.I. in person someday.
Smiles and laughter are so precious, and I am grateful whenever I find them.