Chapter XXXIV. Mr. Hyde Goes to His Own Place and Susan Takes a Honeymoon
 

Early in November Jims left Ingleside. Rilla saw him go with many tears but a heart free from boding. Mrs. Jim Anderson, Number Two, was such a nice little woman that one was rather inclined to wonder at the luck which bestowed her on Jim. She was rosy-faced and blue-eyed and wholesome, with the roundness and trigness of a geranium leaf. Rilla saw at first glance that she was to be trusted with Jims.

"I'm fond of children, miss," she said heartily. "I'm used to them-- I've left six little brothers and sisters behind me. Jims is a dear child and I must say you've done wonders in bringing him up so healthy and handsome. I'll be as good to him as if he was my own, miss. And I'll make Jim toe the line all right. He's a good worker--all he needs is some one to keep him at it, and to take charge of his money. We've rented a little farm just out of the village, and we're going to settle down there. Jim wanted to stay in England but I says 'No.' I hankered to try a new country and I've always thought Canada would suit me."

"I'm so glad you are going to live near us. You'll let Jims come here often, won't you? I love him dearly."

"No doubt you do, miss, for a lovabler child I never did see. We understand, Jim and me, what you've done for him, and you won't find us ungrateful. He can come here whenever you want him and I'll always be glad of any advice from you about his bringing up. He is more your baby than anyone else's I should say, and I'll see that you get your fair share of him, miss."

So Jims went away--with the soup tureen, though not in it. Then the news of the Armistice came, and even Glen St. Mary went mad. That night the village had a bonfire, and burned the Kaiser in effigy. The fishing village boys turned out and burned all the sandhills off in one grand glorious conflagration that extended for seven miles. Up at Ingleside Rilla ran laughing to her room.

"Now I'm going to do a most unladylike and inexcusable thing," she said, as she pulled her green velvet hat out of its box. "I'm going to kick this hat about the room until it is without form and void; and I shall never as long as I live wear anything of that shade of green again."

"You've certainly kept your vow pluckily," laughed Miss Oliver.

"It wasn't pluck--it was sheer obstinacy--I'm rather ashamed of it," said Rilla, kicking joyously. "I wanted to show mother. It's mean to want to show your own mother--most unfilial conduct! But I have shown her. And I've shown myself a few things! Oh, Miss Oliver, just for one moment I'm really feeling quite young again--young and frivolous and silly. Did I ever say November was an ugly month? Why it's the most beautiful month in the whole year. Listen to the bells ringing in Rainbow Valley! I never heard them so clearly. They're ringing for peace --and new happiness--and all the dear, sweet, sane, homey things that we can have again now, Miss Oliver. Not that I am sane just now--I don't pretend to be. The whole world is having a little crazy spell today. Soon we'll sober down--and 'keep faith'--and begin to build up our new world. But just for today let's be mad and glad."

Susan came in from the outdoor sunlight looking supremely satisfied.

"Mr. Hyde is gone," she announced.

"Gone! Do you mean he is dead, Susan?"

"No, Mrs. Dr. dear, that beast is not dead. But you will never see him again. I feel sure of that."

"Don't be so mysterious, Susan. What has happened to him?"

"Well, Mrs. Dr. dear, he was sitting out on the back steps this afternoon. It was just after the news came that the Armistice had been signed and he was looking his Hydest. I can assure you he was an awesome looking beast. All at once, Mrs. Dr. dear, Bruce Meredith came around the corner of the kitchen walking on his stilts. He has been learning to walk on them lately and came over to show me how well he could do it. Mr. Hyde just took a look and one bound carried him over the yard fence. Then he went tearing through the maple grove in great leaps with his ears laid back. You never saw a creature so terrified, Mrs. Dr. dear. He has never returned."

"Oh, he'll come back, Susan, probably chastened in spirit by his fright."

"We will see, Mrs. Dr. dear--we will see. Remember, the Armistice has been signed. And that reminds me that Whiskers-on-the-moon had a paralytic stroke last night. I am not saying it is a judgment on him, because I am not in the counsels of the Almighty, but one can have one's own thoughts about it. Neither Whiskers-on-the-moon or Mr. Hyde will be much more heard of in Glen St. Mary, Mrs. Dr. dear, and that you may tie to."

Mr. Hyde certainly was heard of no more. As it could hardly have been his fright that kept him away the Ingleside folk decided that some dark fate of shot or poison had descended on him--except Susan, who believed and continued to affirm that he had merely "gone to his own place." Rilla lamented him, for she had been very fond of her stately golden pussy, and had liked him quite as well in his weird Hyde moods as in his tame Jekyll ones.

"And now, Mrs. Dr, dear," said Susan, "since the fall house-cleaning is over and the garden truck is all safe in cellar, I am going to take a honeymoon to celebrate the peace."

"A honeymoon, Susan?"

"Yes, Mrs. Dr. dear, a honeymoon," repeated Susan firmly. "I shall never be able to get a husband but I am not going to be cheated out of everything and a honeymoon I intend to have. I am going to Charlottetown to visit my married brother and his family. His wife has been ailing all the fall, but nobody knows whether she is going to die not. She never did tell anyone what she was going to do until she did it. That is the main reason why she was never liked in our family. But to be on the safe side I feel that I should visit her. I have not been in town for over a day for twenty years and I have a feeling that I might as well see one of those moving pictures there is so much talk of, so as not to be wholly out of the swim. But have no fear that I shall be carried away with them, Mrs. Dr. dear. I shall be away a fortnight if you can spare me so long."

"You certainly deserve a good holiday, Susan. Better take a month--that is the proper length for a honeymoon."

"No, Mrs. Dr. dear, a fortnight is all I require. Besides, I must be home for at least three weeks before Christmas to make the proper preparations. We will have a Christmas that is a Christmas this year, Mrs. Dr. dear. Do you think there is any chance of our boys being home for it?"

"No, I think not, Susan. Both Jem and Shirley write that they don't expect to be home before spring--it may be even midsummer before Shirley comes. But Carl Meredith will be home, and Nan and Di, and we will have a grand celebration once more. We'll set chairs for all, Susan, as you did our first war Christmas--yes, for all--for my dear lad whose chair must always be vacant, as well as for the others, Susan."

"It is not likely I would forget to set his place, Mrs. Dr. dear," said Susan, wiping her eyes as she departed to pack up for her "honeymoon."