As ever, these characters are not mine.
'I do not think 'As Pants the Hart' a suitable hymn for a wedding, Mrs. Dor. Dear, and that you may tie to,' said Susan comfortably, sitting down in her preferred chair on the Ingleside veranda.
'Don't you Susan? I thought the sentiment was right somehow,' said Anne, from her place surveying the garden. It was nice to have a garden again.
'I don't pretend to know about sentiment,' said Susan robustly, 'but I do know there were words in that hymn as should not be said in church,' and she gave her knitting a vigorous shake to unroll it as she said so.
'I don't suppose one of those words was 'God,' Susan,' said Rilla impishly. She had baby Gilbert on her lap and just at that moment, everything about the world felt right. Susan made a noise that conveyed that Rilla had quite missed the point, without saying so, and went on knitting.
'It wasn't the music I noticed,' said Mrs. Marshall Eliot, by turns Miss Cornelia to friends, 'but a wedding in church. It did feel Roman, didn't it Susan?'
'Well…' said Susan reluctantly, for she did not like to criticize anything to do with her little brown boy, nor if she could help it, to agree with Mrs. Marshall Eliot, whatever she might think of weddings in churches, 'no more so than those evening weddings with nothing but candles.'
Mrs. Marshall Eliot sniffed, for certainly Mary's wedding had been an evening affair and there was no getting around the candles, nor indeed were their uncomfortably catholic connotations immediately escapable.* She said instead,
'I suppose we learn habits from the people around us, even if they are Episcopalian ones.'
'There is really nothing wrong,' said Susan tartly, 'in being close to those that love you,' for she felt quite absurdly protective of Una Meredith as had been, even if she were responsible for depriving Susan of her dear brown boy. If she managed to imply that Mary had caught the notion of evening ceremonies and candles off of Mrs. Marshall Eliot, there was no harm done there either.
'Go softly, both of you,' said Anne and raised a hand in greeting to Rosemary Meredith as she came up the walk.
Rosemary sat down on the Ingelside steps and said contentedly, 'your June Lilies smell heavenly this evening, Anne, and they always come up nicer than anyone else's. What do you do to them?'
'Oh, this and that,' said Anne vaguely. 'I talk an awful lot to them, Gilbert and Susan will tell you I talk too much to them, but I don't really feel that's possible. They just look like good listeners, those lilies.'
'They do, rather,' said Rosemary smiling. She had not her friend's fancies, but she did feel just then she could do with someone to talk to, and she supposed the Manse tiger lilies would do as well as anything else, in the absence of her almost-daughter. Oh, she was glad, very glad, to see her happy, but it did not mean she would miss her any less. Who now was going to suggest mid-afternoon tea purely so that the mending could be delayed and secrets traded? Not Bruce, he was growing ever up, and John was working more than usually furiously at his sermons and intercessions because that was his particular way of managing.
'You look,' said Anne, migrating to the steps and drawing her knees to her chest, as she had in girlhood, 'as if all the cares of the world have just descended on you.'
Rosemary shook her head. 'I swear the house is growing,' she said absently. 'Where are all my children going to Anne?'
It occurred to Miss Cornelia just then that she could point out that saving Bruce, none of the Meredith children was really Rosemary's but did not for two reasons; in the first instance it would be unkind and she was fond of Rosemary. In the second, you could be forgiven for thinking that all the Manse children, Una especially, were Rosemary's, for they had always been a very close family.
'I have a notion Carl went off to the Amazon, or some such thing, though why the Almighty thought it to the good I do not know,' said the prosaic Susan. They laughed and Rilla murmured something about putting Gilbert down for the evening and rose to leave, kissing her mother as she went.
'I do hope I haven't chased her away,' said Rosemary anxiously.
'That you have not,' said Susan just as Anne began to answer, 'for she came up with that blessed boy after supper and has been here ever since. Kenneth will be wondering where she and his child have got to.'
'She did too,' said Anne reassuringly. 'And houses do grow; Ingleside never used to feel so big, not even when half my children were overseas. I suppose I knew they were coming back, then.'
'They have not gone so far that they cannot visit often, Mrs. Dr. dear, and that I will tie to. That they do visit I don't need to tell you.' She was really telling herself, and Anne felt this, for Shirley had always been Susan's favourite and it was no secret she would miss him.
'Yes,' agreed Rosemary, 'it won't be very hard to call on Una, the house is so very nearby. I did wonder she shouldn't want to be further from home but she only said she had never wanted to travel much.'
'Is it true,' said Miss Cornelia now, 'that the only way into that house is through the back door?' This in such a way that anyone listening could be forgiven for thinking, thought Rosemary with a smile, that there was no sin worse than forcing one's company to enter a house from the back door.
'Not exactly true,' said Rosemary, who had seen the house with the greengage tree, 'only, the front door opens onto a slope and it's awkward to get to. But the letterbox and milk pantry seem to be on that side of the house, so some people must make use of it.'
'Whyever did the builder set it so that it fronted a slope?' Miss Cornelia asked now.
'I think it was a farm before, the river at the base of the hill made a natural barrier against dogs if you put animals to pasture. It's Mr. Taylor's pasture now but the house still fronts the river and there are lilacs and a plum tree, so it will take a month of Sundays for Una to see a fault in it.'
'I shall never understand about the lilacs,' said Susan, who had been hearing her boy talk of little else, in spite of his claims not to be poetic, 'though I concede they do smell pretty in their turn.' She looked now at the mothers on the steps, but Anne only said, 'I have always loved lilacs, and I think there is a memory they share tied in with them Susan, but I couldn't say what.'
Rosemary was quiet. She did know, Una had told her ages ago, of an evening late in the year when the lilacs needed cutting back, but she did not feel it was her memory to share. She could only sit and look with mixed feelings at the June lilies in the Ingleside garden, and wonder why God saw fit to mix up private happiness with just enough of its opposite that you could never be quite sure which way was up for a little while after any event that meant anything.
The passage marked by * is not really a private sentiment; it was, however, my Grandmother's and her mother's also, which is why I have given it to Susan here.