my, I am really very sorry for the size of this chapter. there was a lot to take in and a lot to pass on.

as for the formalities: the underlined part comes from LMM's 'Anne's House of Dreams.' two characters introduced here are my own creation, but based on LMMs snipepts about Anne's old college friend, while Willmouse and Joss are entirely my own, introduced in my previous story. as for the rationings- I'm not sure whether they would kick in as early as in September 1914, I couldn't find any proper Canada-related info. help?

* the name comes from Jill Barklem's Brambly Hedge. I needed a queer, funny name- and in came my little godson, asking me to read to him. I was half ashamed at using it- but it seemes to suit Mrs. Violet as well as her little ones far too much.

and last but not least- thank you a thousand times for reviews, favorites and follows. it really means a lot- and I'm sorry if it doesn't show how grateful I am.

They waited for Persis at the station, emburdened with their own trunks, a cover basket with Nan's cat, snorting wildly, Mrs. Elliott's quilts- the kind-hearted lady had made each for every one of them, poring over the embroidery all too devotedly to think of the nuisance they would make while traveling- and Rosemary's plum cake, properly purplish and tawny now, in September. If Anne Blythe were to watch Kingsport, enshrouded in the last of a sunrise of blue, white and pallid gold, together with her girls she would have remarked that Kingsport had not changed much. It was louder, faster, more evolved, no doubt, but its air was no less quaint and secretive than it had been in her day.

But the girls were not appreciative of the beauties which lay around them, their minds given to things infinitely more trivial. Faith kept glancing on her watch impatiently and Nan toddled around the platform. It had been her call to 'greet the house properly', all inmates in one fell swoop, but it was also she who was saying presently,

"I'm half-inclined to think it was Persis's own doing. She likes to make an entrance."

"Pot, kettle, black," was Di's answer, at which Nan threw one of her gloves onto her twin's lap, missing her face quite considerably.

The train was late by over an hour. Di didn't mind having to wait too much; for as long as they waited, Walter stayed with them. They would be going together to the Students' Crescent, for Walter's had decalred to help them carry the quilts, but then he would have to depart swiftly as his boarding house was on the other end of the town.

"I hope you do appreciate," Di murmured from her more comfortable spot on the bench which Walter had gallantly ceded; he was sitting close on her right, where the planks were threatening to snap under his weight, his shoulder serving as a bolster for her and lowered his head, intrigued, as she went on moodily, "that I've kept mum about you persisting on not taking Jem's old apartment. We would have been much closer."

He smiled.

"I do."

The people of Kingsport cruised next to them, and Di felt slightly startled. They paid no attention to them whatsoever, save one tall, pretty girl who greeted Faith with much fuss and cheek-kissing, but soon proclaimed to have to 'dash'. It was quite different from the usual smiles and nods they would have received in Glen St. Mary.

"Finally!" Faith flounced from her bench, as they heard the train's sharp whistle.

The train pulled up- the doors were flung open and they all rushed to them, expecting Persis to need help with her likely overwhelming suitcase. As Di stood on her toes, trying to find a familiar face and failing, a well-remembered voice was heard behind her back.

"Dianne! Nannette!" in the crowd of passengers, they only saw two little hands thrown out of the window, waving briskly, and they knew, they would have known even if they had not recognized the voice; only Persis Ford would have addressed the Blythe twins with those.

She made it to the platform soon enough, as two young men in khaki elbowed her way out for her and another two handed her suitcase and yet another meowing cover basket out the window and surrendered them into Walter's stretched out arms.

"Thanks, boys, it's been a lark! Take care!" Persis waved jauntily and, never minding the lingering looks the whole four sent her, threw herself into the twins' open arms. After they'd had enough of bumbling around the station and giggling, Persis turned to Walter.

"Walter, Walter, do you ever change- just the tiniest little bit? Non?" she asked, laughingly, and kissed him on the cheek; something most girls would dream of doing, but never dare to. But Persis was, by Ken proxy, as much of a favorite with Walter, as she was with 'Uncle Gil.'

"No, I'm still my old boring self, as you see. With good purpose, though- I counterbalance you," he sent her an eloquent look. Di, who only now had the chance to take a good look, knew exactly how he meant.

Persis was a vivid, glittering birdie of a girl, she had always been so, but she looked decidedly different. Her travel suit was a bold, ungirdled affair in sea blue and her cap an outlandish, large thing with a narrow, turned up brim. She wore her hair almost loose, tied with a careless ribbon low at the nape of her neck, and Di noticed it was much lighter than the honey-tinted waves she had remembered; she could have little doubt that it was not the result of the Japanese sun. Her sky-blue eyes had remained the same, but the gentle bows of her eyebrows had twisted into an arched shape and taken on the color of ebony. She did not have the gentle, questioning look like Little Rilla's. Rather, in Persis's face, people- men- found the answers to questions they were afraid to ask. The red of her lips was only matched by that on her fingernails- and her accent was a curious mixture of vowels that were a little too tense and too rounded and a strange blend of s's and t's all over her rendition of demonstratives.

She was not similar to Aunty Leslie in the least, despite this newly acquired similarity in the coloring; she and Ken both belonged undoubtedly more among the Ford rather than the West lot, but, in short, she was gorgeous beyond belief.

She turned from Walter and faced Faith- then tilted her head a little, with a smile that was both anticipatory and puzzling, at least to poor Faith, who stretched out a stiff hand.

"Hello, Persis, nice to-"

But Persis didn't let her finish, failing to smother a chuckle.

"Oh, come on, Faith, spare poor me the formalities," she put her hands flat on Faith's forearms, clearly not yet comfortable enough for a proper embrace, and plopped a peck on Faith's flushed cheek. "I've had a year of talking to diplomats, writers and grand figures. Surely we can all just be young and easy, non?"

Faith laughed, nodding- and they were good to go. They hopped into the cab summoned by Walter and they headed 'home' as Faith had put it- and no one protested to giving the yet unknown house that name, at least for the time being.

Dearwums, Di wrote to Mother, as all Ingleside children had taken to use Jem's old endearment phrase in his absence, 'please be informed' that we are all well and safe and tucked in at Apple Drop.

Isn't it a darling of a name? It took a while for us to settle on something proper; from the start we knew that all the old -nooks and -sides and -lodges wouldn't do for a house as special as ours- by rights, all houses on the street have such uncommon names. The boys next door live in the Burrow- oh, but I'm getting everything mixed up something scandalous! Let me begin properly.

Apple Drop is nestled snuggly in what Kingsport calls Students' Crescent and I swear I haven't found a plate with its real name nor have I managed to find out anything about it from our neighbors, which makes me worry about the post a bit. But the street lives up to its name- it's full to the brim with our Redmond lot and, if I'm not mistaken, none other than Dr. Parker's daughter, Alice herself lives just around the corner- or else she has a friend whom she visits very frequently. But it would be just the scenario in which Susan would quote: 'Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour's lest...' and I don't suspect poor Alice of being so intruding.

That said, the street could just as well be called Cats' Crescent, for we seem to have an abundance of that meowling lot. Pine Drop itself has two declared inhabitants, Nan's Crumble and Persis's Minette, and at least one speckled stowaway which Faith had christened Catkin and who has become very much her own cat even if she never lets her in. Incidentally, our closest neighbors on the left have a little kitten of the name Pipkin- and those directly in front of us a dignified Maltese whom they address as 'Shakespeare.'

But we don't limit ourselves to cats, no, we're by no means so discriminatory. Just on her second day Persis came back home with a little white terrier. Upon my protestations, she just said I should be glad she didn't go for the parrot as she had originally planned- so I was glad. That one goes by Oscar. Persis promised that he would be unnoticeable, but for now it is Nan who takes him out on the morning walk, when she goes to collect our post and pick up the bakery, and Faith and I do rounds taking him out in the evening.

The walks are very educational- for the Students Crescent is in fact just one offshoot of a complicated labrinth of streets and we haven't gotten our heads around it as yet- and perfectly enjoyable, too, as it is a very decorative offshoot. We live in the old part of the city, reasonably close to the university, and so the street seems literally sunk in green. We pass a willow on our way whose withes hang upon the sidewalk like a sun-weaved curtain. Walter is absolutely in love with that tree.

But the delights of the street are really nothing compared to Apple Drop and its garden. When we arrived there for the first time, Nan stopped so abruptly that the jerk woke Crumble in his basket.

"Why, Faith, this is straight out of Hodgson Burnett!" she cried- and she wasn't wrong with that one.

The house itself seems to be changing size depending on who's looking at it. Sometimes it seems very grand and imposing- and yet Persis refers to it as 'this dear little place'. It is a simple stone lump surrounded by a juniper hedge, a twisting little path leading the way to the only door which is on the back, pines guarding our little conk of a porch facing the garden, which takes up really quite extraordinally large portion of the plot. Vines must have climbed its gray walls for years, there is a pattern of leaves and stalks chiseled on one side of the house, and the other side is being reclaimed again. Faith said we should ask Walter to dig it out- but one look on his face told her that the vines were here to stay. And very well, too, for our big, maroon-shuttered windows do need a frame.

The garden is a real delight; an irrepressible riot of late freesias, carnations and shy little rose buds. There is a crabapple tree snuggled in the corner, dwarfed by our six pines, but not nearly enough not to bear an overwhelming abundance of fruit which we have to turn, on and off, into jams, tarts and pies as we find red balls in the lush grass every other day without a fail. It's ridiculous, really, and we would appreciate if Susan could pass on some creativity. The trees sway with the wind very gracefully, letting through fleeting shafts of sun- was it as pallidly golden here in your day?- which dance on our windows every day. The ground, Faith assures us, is good and we will be able to grow our own raspberries, tomatoes and other such little things. I'm inclined to think she's got it right, judging by the abundance of herbs which weave their way among our flowers. There's mint with its coolness, lemon balm as fresh as you could wish for and sage with its nice, unassuming smell. Going outside is like entering a dining room in fairy land- Nan's expression, not mine, of course. They'll be good for the colds we'll likely be getting in the winter- those dear old houses come with a price to pay- and they make a good addition to Persis's queer, hot ginger and honey drink which we like to take with our supper.

There was, however, one greater delight found in the garden- Nan had the pleasure.

Walter distributed their luggages as they ordered him about, briefly marvelled at the house and bid the girls goodbye. In a confusion of excited squeels, Faith, Di and Persis flew up the stairs to see the bathroom, or the kitchen, or the hall- but she felt a keen need to get acquainted with the garden. It was possessed of freesias far fuller and taller than Susan's- and that required a certain dose of respect in one's treatment of it.

She breathed in the resinous, balmy air which surrounded the house and walked among the rose bushes- there were red, and pink and tea roses, but no whites, which she took for a good omen. Love hopeful and expectant, and triumphant, but not dead or forsaken. And the tea roses, well- who could mind tea roses?

Bending to pick a pine needle off her shoe, she noticed a late blueberry shrub which by rights belonged to the garden neighboring theirs, but whose sprigs reached over the fence planks.

She looked around; surely her neighbors wouldn't begrudge her this little handful- and in any case, nobody had to know. When she smacked her lips on the sweet blue beads, a laughing voice from the other garden resounded with surprizing closeness.

"Enjoy your meal- or should I say my meal?"

Nan cried something inarticulate and tripped. She would have fallen to the ground in her new white travel costume if it hadn't been for a well-meaning juniper shrub. She looked around anxiously, still spreadagled across the prickly branches.

Behind the fence, a young man jumped out of the hammock and rushed to the barrier, leaning over it with a stretched hand. He was laughing at her quite openly, but still said amiably,

"Oh, boy, I'm terribly sorry! Didn't mean to scare you, honest!"

Nan looked at him gingerly which only prompted him to laugh more. She did not find reproach in his face, only a well-known Josephy race quality around the eyes.

"I should be the one apologizing," she said and her cheeks suffused with color, not the pretty girlish pink but rather the brick red of a culprit, before taking the hand he offered and allowing herself to be pulled to her feet.

"Not at all!" he said briskly. "I'm happy to share, as long as I'll still be allowed my share of your apples."

Nan laughed and assured him he was more than welcome. She looked at the stranger with the same curiosity with which he watched her. In all honesty, it was rather improper and even more awakward to regard one another so silently, but they were both too preoccupied.

He was rather hard to put down on the age line, but certainly very handsome with the irregular, frisky sort of good looks. There was a brown gloss on his smooth hair, his eyes, below the oddly-pointed black eyebrows, were as nut-brown as Nan's own- and his mouth curled in a puzzled smirk.

"Do you have the impression, too?" he asked suddenly, freely propping both elbows on the mossy fence.

"And what would that be?"

"That we've met each other before."

As Nan about to cut him short, disappointed by the first intriguing impression gone so wrong, she beheld the one fissure in the niceness of his face, which was his crooked nose. Likely broken in a school fight, only- in truth, it seemed bent on progressing towards greater aquiline arch of its own accord rather than through a school boy's doing.

"Indeed," she had to say. Then she shook her head, recovering her usual aplomb. "We're both being silly, though- perhaps an introduction will help? I'm Nan."

He tilted his head and his fingers drummed on the fence.

"It might help indeed. May I just ask- is the ginger one that just bolted to the house Diana, by any chance?"

"How do- why- she is," poor Nan gasped, before going on to council good-naturedly, "But you'd be better off not calling her that."

"What, ginger? Ah, that's right, she's the edgy one, I remember!"

Nan threw her hands up.

"I'm not so lucky, I'm afraid- I'm sorry."

"Come on, put your mind to it. You may remember this," he tapped on a small scar on the inside of his right wrist. "That's your doing. You had very sharp milk teeth."

"How-" Nan began asking, then looked at his nose again- and dissolved into laughter. "Of course! Philippe-with-an-E, I remember now!"

For a while he looked as though he was torn between smiling at being recognized and wincing upon remembering his childish insistence upon that nonsense of a name.

"I've thought better of it since," he replied sheepishly. "It's just Philip now."

"I'm awfully sorry- I almost had you as a flirt," Nan said openly. "But it's been a while since you all wisited us. Also, why are you not-" she broke off.

"Overseas?" he finished for her, miraculously still no sign of annoyance.

Nan nodded apologetically.

"I didn't mean- I'm sorry. Aunt Phil wrote Mother that you and your brother both went immediately."

"That we did. Only Gordy passed the final examination at Valcartier, I didn't," he winced impatiently. "Pneumonia, last spring."

She nodded again, with fresh understanding.

"And your brothers?"

"Jem's there. We expect he'll be leaving for Europe soon. Walter couldn't- typhoid, last winter," mirroring his curt way of speaking. "Don't mind me, but I think your Mother will take it better this way."

He looked grateful.

"I think so to- though that's not to say I won't try again. She'll take it even better, though, when I tell her about this- her 'Queen Anne's daughters right under my nose! She'll be getting on poor Dad to come and visit now, I bet."

"I hope so!" Nan smiled sincerely before stretching her hand out for a good-bye shake and receiving a kiss on it instead. "And I hope you'll be coming over often enough- after we've put everything to order!" she added laughingly, seeing his willingness to breach the fence by jumping over it. "I haven't even seen my own room yet!"

The rooms are three, as you know, and all very different. Faith's taken up the littlest one, right next to the kitchen- which is good with her night-owlish ways, as the light she keeps until the wee hours does not reach up to the upper part of the house where Persis, Nan and I sleep at that time. I asked Nan whether Faith has been pursuing a career as a contortionist that we did not know of before, but she pursed her lips with her severe look- you know which one, don't you, Dearwums? the one that could send anyone except Mary Vance off P.E.I.- and mumbled something about finances making people more flexible. I thought you would like to know in case they should need something at the Manse and you, being your lovable self, wanted to help; I suppose with Jerry- and his scholarship- gone, they must be feeling the pinch, even with Mr. Douglas's hefty donations. I never gave a single thought to why Una never went to Queens with us, but knowing her propensity for sacrifice, there might be something... but I've deviated from the subject.

The kitchen is not very big, but it is the dearest place in the house with furnitures of very different provenances each. Even the cabinets are not one set; on the surface at least, because they do seem to belong together inextricably. I especially happen to like the one with the drawers, which are all different colors: blue, green, red and yellow. It should make it easy for us to remember what is kept where, but it doesn't, of course. Nan and I still follow Susan's scheme, Faith- Mrs. Meredith's and Persis just scatters everything around however the fancy takes her. The table is far too big for such a small place, objectively, but with the four of us, Walter and Phil, a self-proclaimed conversationalist- he is here often enough to be actually deemed a housemate- it makes for the most comfortable gathering place, never lacking space for another crabapple pie and our tea cups. The cups-as well as the cutlery- are chipped and cracked enough to have a homey feel about them and they came with the house in a ludicrous abundance. The only problem was, we got tens and tens of tea spoons, but not a single knife sharp enough to slice through bread, so Susan's and Mrs. Meredith's emergency packets stood us in good stead. We're much obliged.

The chairs are likewise each to their own- Nan and I settled for the plain, wooden type, Faith was even more austere by choosing a little leather stool, while Persis occupies a wing chair of faded purple brocade. I thought it unfair that Persis should have both the best room and the best chair, but it really fits all her kinks. And, anyhow, Faith didn't seem bent on that chair. She and Persis have proved surprizingly compatible. They weren't entirely so at first- we only have one bathroom- until Persis despaired over a beau dilemma in Faith's presence.

"He really is a sore to watch," she was explaining to helpless Nan as Faith walked in with Walter. "But he says the nicest things- and with the nicest of accents."

"Well, you can't spend a date, let alone a life, with your eyes closed, can you now?" Faith said sensibly between swinging her hat onto her shoulders and reaching for a shoe-hook. "And in any case, accents are a tricky thing, you never know where you are with them and how they're going to change. The most important thing I've learned about people's looks is ears is ears from start to finish and that's what you should look at to get at least a modern degree of stability. Although I can't for the life of me remember where I got that from."

Nan and I could- and had a rather unsolidary giggle- and we teased her mercilessly that she only said it because Jem's ears are so nice.

Our room is upstairs, and it's the middle one in size. Here, to make up for the thrown-together look of the kitchen, everything is white. The walls, the floor, the carpet on it, the beds, the shelves above them- everything is the same, unbroken shining whiteness. The only splashes of color are our books, the odd pieces of clothing that I scatter around- Susan need not know, does she?- and the embroidery on our bedclothes. Mrs. Elliott has marked each of our quilts with our names in different colors; mine is blue and Nan's pink. It could turn your head around, especially given that the room is designed for twins more twinnish than Nan and myself; its both sides are a mirror reflection of one another. This is the work of Apple Drop's owner who was overjoyed to hear she's going to be landladying twins. Mrs. Crustybread* is her name- I swear to Gog and Magog!- and, as it turned out, she is possesed of a pair of her own; Winnifred and Wilfred, aged ten, freckled, pale and lanky things both of them. It seems that your luck- or misfortune- with twins was carried onto Nan and myself with the Shirley noses.

Persis's room is the biggest one, next to ours, but it really is more of a budoir than a student's bedroom. The walls are mauve, this toned, muted shade of pink that somehow escapes looking faded which I like especially- why, Dearwums, did you have to pass on the hair color onto my poor, innocent head, too? I could have done with black or brown at least, really! The furniture is white, Hepplewhite- what a pun!- and arranged into several 'cosy corners' for Minette and Oscar to curl up in. Mrs. Elliott's quilt doesn't really fit in there with its vivid sea-green 'PERSIS' and it's a bit short, too. The bed is enormous- so is the wardrobe- but Persis is much more expansive than that. She has arranged our tiny garret into the cosiest den where we like to sit on our big cushions when there are no guests calling. She and Faith even hung up a hammock on the rafters; it has only rained once so far and all four of us instinctly scrambled up to the garret to listen to the droplets plip- plopping through the pine branches onto our roof.

We've managed to arrive at a sensible scheme of housemaking chores; Faith does the windows, Nan the sweeping, Persis attends to the dusting and the bathrooms; she has a fluffy colorful duster of the kind that you would only expect to see in Gibson to be scoffed at by Susan. That leaves me with the dishes. I must say I'm enjoying it, not unlike Una Meredith; she always says it gives her the time to think without leaving her guilty about wasted time. We all take turns cooking- well, all except Persis, as she couldn't scramble an egg to save her life. But Faith's scones have no match, neither do Nan's pies- and Susan needn't be ashamed of my own skills either.

You can see, dearest, that you're fretting- because I know you are- for no reason at all. We will have many happy times here- we've already had- and we will stay safe, rest assured, the pines will be watching over us, and not just in the garden, but in all of Kingsport.

It was Phil who suggested going to the park as he sat with Di and Nan in Apple Drop's little kitchen, one elbow propped languidly on the table, scooping up some sugar from the bowl nearby and watching it pour back down, one white crystal after another, as he tilted the spoon. Before him lay a plate, licked clean of any remnants of Faith's crabapple tart and his tossed-aside Panama.

"We might," Nan answered, slamming the green drawer back in before moving to a cupboard beside the spice rack. "I think it was one of those places Mother also stressed specifically. Oh, where, on earth, and why did you move cocoa again?

Philip looked alarmed and put down the spoon, before Di answered calmly,

"The blue drawer, I think, but that was Persis."

Nan tried that- gave a little irritated snort and peeked into a half-empty box.

"Should be enough, but I'll leave that," she indicated the drawer and Phil stood up to find the Manse kitchen utensils in spilled cocoa powder, "for Persis."

"I'm sure she'll be delighted," he laughed, propped his hands on the top of the cabinet this time and leaned on them. "Do you need any help?"

Di remarked that Aunt Phil's son was everything like what she remebered of her in always looking languid and comfortable, even as well-turned out as he was now in his light summer suit. He was likewise easy to be quiet with and when Nan refused the offer, slightly testily, he just watched her splash rum onto cocoa-filled saucer and grind it before pouring it all to the plums simmering on the stove. He had brought them a sizeable hamper as an excuse for calling at Apple Drop fourth day in a row and Nan had promptly decided that they could do with preserves that were not crabapple-based in the winter to come.

Di raised her cup and found the tea gone. Phil pushed the pot to her.

"Tell me now," she demanded of him, taking particular care to keep the chipped lid in its place, "how do you ever get your names right in the house?"

"What- oh, you mean Mother and I?" he laughed a little distractedly. "There really is no plane for misunderstandings, if you think about it. Gordon and myself have her as Mums- Dad has a whole host of petnames- some of the usual material, you know, the darlings, dears, wifeys and some of his own, too, though I couldn't be pressed for examples just now. And she's only Mrs. Blake to all and soundry from the parish."

Nan stretched her hand out and he handed over a wooden ladle she had left at the table.

"She must be missing the 'Phil', don't you think?" she smoothly joined their conversation, as if she hadn't been stirring the plums, three times left, five times right, most of the time he spoke. "I dread the day I stop being Nan and become Anne- or a Mrs. Someone."

"Nah, that you won't be," Phil said, having in mind the first rather than the second, and only then realized how his comment may be understood. "I meant-"

"Give it up," Nan said, turning back around. "There, done with you."

Phil was halfway through an apology, when the twins dissolved into a peal of laughter. Nan motioned to the stove.

"I meant the preserves, you-"

"You conversationalist," Di finished for her, catching the disconnected note in her voice. She smacked his shoulder lightly. "Get up and bring those new jars from the pantry."

Nan ladled the sweet out to five jars, failing to distribute it justly- Di covered them with pieces of red gingham and tied bands around the lids and Phil scrubbed the leftovers from the cooling pot and they went out into a lovely, golden Kingsport evening. At the gate they met Walter who had really only come to see Diana, but instantly saw the merit of visiting the famous park.

"Is that chocoplum?" he asked unerringly as Nan walked through the gate he held open for them in a cloud of sweet smell.

"I put aside a jarful for you," Nan assured him, "although I won't vouch it's as half as good as Susan's. Faith had a reading for the Collegiate Reds yesterday about getting used to the rationings, so there you go."

"I think Una makes it very little sugar also," Walter said uncertainly, wagging his chin. "And it's perfectly nice."

At this, not only Di, but Nan pricked up her ears- then, to cover a langushing look she sent him,

"Of course, but that's Una for you. She could probably add salt- if that isn't rationed, too- and still make it 'perfectly nice'. I could do with half her knack for cooking."

"I could do with her lemon snaps."

Walter smiled wistfully and, bending to pick up an apple from the grass, he didn't notice Nan pinching Di's arm with the silent sisterly we'll have to talk later.

They entered into the still, calm beauty of the Kingsport Park paired off, Nan and Phil loitering a little behind. Di caught snatches of her twin trying to explain to the poor boy the connections they had to the Wrights and Keiths and Spencers in Avonlea where Delia's wedding was to take place in two days' time.

Di, for her part, walked silently beside Walter, guessing he was talking to the towering pines around them. Kingsport didn't do him half as well as Di had hoped it to; sometimes, when they sequestered together in the garden at Apple Drop and he would just lay with his head on her lap and talk nonsense, he looked again as the Walter of old; but the city was full to the brim with Collegiate Reds running errands, mothers seeing sons off to the stations and whole cohorts of boys in khaki who wandered around the city, shouting with all the vigor of youthful lungs and it all made him transform again into this distant figure she could hardly recognize although she tried, she stried with all her might.

One such cohort was now walking right in front of them in the opposite direction- and, by the looks of it, heading for a collision. Di frowned before recognizing waving Faith among them. They were soon surrounded by a merry crowd looking at them curiously. Phil knew some of the boys, despite being a natural enemy as a Law School attendant on the homestretch, and took it upon himself to introduce the freshettes.

"Blythe!" ejaculated on of the boys, Frank, if Di remembered correctly in the commotion. "You must be Jem's sisters, surely?"

"That we are," Nan smiled pleasantly.

"And which one is Carrots?"

"I'd go with the dark-haired one," David, the handsome one, slapped him on the back of the head. "Softy much?"

"What did you call me?"

"And you're Walter, right?"

In the confusion of laughs and handshakes, Di noticed a face that seems familiar even though it shouldn't. One of the boys- tall, dark, with a peaked, distant look of a faun that reminded her of Walter, only assured enough in his white suit- surely she had seen him somewhere?

"I thought we should have run into each other by know," Nan said suddenly, as she approached him with a smile and a stretched hand.

"I have been looking round, I won't lie," he replied in a pleasantly low and deep voice and with steadiness that made not only Nan, but even Di blush slightly when Nan turned around to introduce her. "Di, you remember Willmouse? We met on the train on my way from Avonlea in June? You should, really, you've been teasing me about him all summer."

Di sent her a terrified look, at which the boy laughed.

"My pleasure," he replied to her awkward greeting with a firm handshake. "You've lived up to expectations, might I add. And you," this to Nan again, "remembered the nickname, of course. I shall woe the day I ever told you about it."

Phil was at a loss with girls, but it soon turned out that the twins would do without his assitance; Nan had met Joss, William's sister and one of the other girls was none other than Alice Parker.

"I thought I saw you around," Di smiled while being embraced warmly; the girl seemed to have taken the whole share of warmth and kindness that had been meant originally for her entire family. Perhaps that was the reason she was the only one of them you could truly like, even if Dad had nothing but appreciation for Dr. Parker's experience.

"A tad stick-in-the-muddy, but a solid specialist," he would say.

Alice didn't seem either of those with her golden, dimpled loveliness. She and Walter greeted as old friends. Di saw a well known spark kindle in his eyes when he watched Alice's bouncing curls. He reached into his pocket for a little notebook he always carried around and smiled archly, when he saw Di notice.

Just as she was beginning to unfurrow her brow, the last one of the girls approached her- and Di scowled again.

"I, ah, I'm afraid I can't help you here, either," Phil said apologetically- but was soon enough interrupted- and not by Diana who stood transfixed and more than anything, wished only to ask Nan whether she had the same mirage impression as she did.

"Oh, but there is no need at all!" her voice still had that little, dreadful quaver Di had remembered so well from her school days.

Delilah Green had once been the bitterest disappointment in Di's ten-year-old universe. She had been more than glad to see the back of her when she moved to Charlottetown. And now she was left to wonder what, in the name of all that's holy, had brought her to Redmond- for she was wearing the white and scarlett, rather ostentatiously pinned to her lapels?! She seemed not to have changed at all, only grown rather tall and shapely- her full figure yet another clear sign her mother was not the dragon she had made her out to be. Her eyes were still large and dark- blue, her hair a sleek sugar-brown knot under a rather festive hat and her small rosy mouth could still warp itself into that sugar-coated smile. She slipped her arm around Di's waist and turned to Phil.

"Diana and I know each other very well. We've been such friends when I still lived in that dear tiny Glen!" she still italicized as much as she had used to. Di was too appalled to speak. Delilah went on glibly when Nan returned to Phil for a handkerchief he had taken, "And with Nan, too, of course!"

Poor Delilah was not to know that the little flashes in Nan's eyes did not bode her well.

"Yes, indeedy," she said with a smile that could match Delilah's own in its sickening sweetness. "That is, of course, after I've matured enough not to pinch Di black and blue. Scandalous behavior on my part!" she addressed Phil directly.

Delilah blushed, maybe for a third time in her life, and withdrew her arm, at which Di went about fixing her jackets ostentatiously. But Delilah's colors added to her beauty- drat her- and Phil didn't give Nan an answer, almost oblivious to her meaningful tone.

He did not recover until after she had departed to the little pavillon with Faith and some of the boys. Willmouse, Joss and Alice stayed with the Student Crescent lot outside and reveled in the warmth of the evening, settling right on the lush grass of the Park. Di sat leaning on Walter's back. Alice plopped down next to her and, much to her amazement, took out a little notebook, similar to the one Walter presently pored over.

"I didn't realize you write," Di probed.

"I don't," Alice stretched out her hand to reveal a sketch of a road that climbed and twisted among the pines behind them.

"Why, that is lovely!"

Alice turned a page around, before stretching out in a languid pose that made her look nothing like the proper, ladylike family friend she had been on a few occasions. And Di hated proper, ladylike family friends.

"That's good to hear- I did want to study art, only Dad said if I wanted to go to college in the first place, it better be something sensible. And I enjoyed my English well enough at first," Di watched her apply sure, but gentle strokes to the paper, not once halting in the conversation, "but, honestly, I'm a little fed up with all the wise things I'v had to take in." She blurred a line with her finger, then jerked her head, smiling wilfully. "Does that make me sound unambitious?"

"Not at all," Di lied chummily, at which Alice raised one eyebrow, making her laugh. "Ask me again when I'm taking my exams. I'll be more inclined to agree with you then, probably."

To their left lay Kingsport with its roofs and spires that Walter was likely making sound poetic at the very moment; and to their right lay the harbor which was poetic of its own accord. Di wanted to see Alice's sketch; she had been looking around rather furtively, making Di wonder why she wouldn't be more open about it, as she was about any other thing. She craned her neck-

Alice had not been drawing the harbor. The sketch was a very good rendition of a boy's head; the hair was too fair for Will's and a little too mussed for Walter's. Then Alice tsk'd her tongue exasperatedly as the firm hand with which she had tried to draw the crook of a broken nose had proven too firm and pierced the paper.

She lifted her head, saw Di's prying eyes and didn't grow angry- she just put one finger to her lips, asking silently for a secret.