These back-of-page seemingly random, out-of-order scrap pieces are drafts of Montgomery’s early short stories and poems. Some were already published when she drafted Anne in 1905 and 1906, and others were probably typed up and kept elsewhere. Some verso scrap sheets show early experiments: “A Baking of Gingersnaps” (1895) was her first published short story; she tests the pen names Maud Cavendish and Maud Eglinton. After Chapter 15, she started writing Anne front-to-back. Why did she switch from scrap pages to fresh sheets?
View an index of the verso contents here, or explore the full collection of Verso pages below:
mint upon which Louisa was trampling.
“I’m glad; I was afraid to come back for fear you would have improved the old garden out of existence, or else into some prim, orderly lawn, which would have been worse. It’s as magnificently untidy as ever, and the fence still wobbles. It can’t be the same fence, but it looks exactly like it. No, nothing is much changed. Thank you, Louisa.”
Louisa had not the faintest idea what Nancy was thanking her for; but then she had never been able to fathom Nancy, much as she had always liked her in the old girlhood days that now seemed much further away to Louisa than they did to Nancy. Louisa was separated from them by the fullness of wifehood and motherhood
thought anybody who was thirty eight was a perfect female Methuselah. And now I feel so horribly, ridiculously young, Louisa. Every morning when I get up I have to say solemnly to myself three times, ‘You’re an old maid, Nancy Rogerson,’ to tone myself down to anything like a becoming attitude for the day.”
“I guess you don’t mind being an old maid much,” said Louisa, shrugging her shoulders. She would not have been an old maid herself for anything; yet she inconsistently envied Nancy her freedom, her wide life in the world, her unlined brow, and care-free lightness of spirit.
“Oh, but I do mind,” said Nancy frankly. “I hate being an old maid.”
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“Nancy!” said Louisa in a shocked tone.
Nancy laughed, a mellow gurgle that rippled through the garden like a brook.
“Oh, Louisa, I can shock you yet. That was just how you used to say ‘Nancy!’ long ago, as if I’d broken all the commandments at once.”
“You do say such queer things,” protested Louisa, “and half the time I don’t know what you mean.”
“Bless you, dear coz., half the time I don’t myself. Perhaps the joy of coming back to the old spot has slightly turned my brain. I’ve found my lost girlhood here. I’m not thirty-eight in this garden – it is a flat impossibility. I’m sweet eighteen, with a
She slipped the thin parcel through the slit in the door, and then stole home again, feeling a strange sense of loss and loneliness. It was as if she had given away the last link between herself and her youth. But she did not regret it. It would give Sylvia pleasure, and that had come to be the overmastering passion of the Old Lady’s heart.
The next night the light in Sylvia’s room burned very late, and the Old Lady watched it triumphantly, knowing the meaning of it. Sylvia was reading her father’s poems and the Old Lady in her darkness read them too, murmuring the lines over and over to herself. After all, giving away the book
had not mattered so very much. She had the soul of it still – and the fly-leaf with the name, in Leslie’s writing, by which nobody ever called her now.
The Old Lady was sitting on the Marshall sofa the next Sewing Circle afternoon when Sylvia Gray came and sat down beside her. The Old Lady[’]s hands trembled a little and one side of a handkerchief, which was afterwards given as a Christmas present to a little olive-skinned coolie in Trinidad, was not quite so exquisitely done as the other three sides.
Sylvia at first talked of the circle, and Mrs. Marshall’s dahlias, and the Old Lady was in the seventh
“How very interesting,” she said, in aud indifferently.
“Isn’t it? I am so grateful to her and I have wished so much she might know how much pleasure she has given me. I have found lovel lovely flowers and delicious berries on my path all summer; I feel sure she sent me my party dress. But the dearest gift came last week on my birthday – a little volume of my father’s poems. I can’t express what I felt on receiving them. But I longed to meet my fairy godmother and thank her.”
“Quite a fascinating mystery, isn’t it? Have you really no idea who she is?”
The Old Lady asked this
dangerous question with marked success. She would not have been so successful if she had not been so sure that Sylvia had no idea of the old romance between her and Leslie Gray. As it was, she had a comfortable conviction that she herself was the very last person Sylvia would be likely to suspect.
Sylvia hesitated for an almost unnoticeable moment. Then she said,
“I haven’t tried to find out, because I don’t think she wants me to know. At first, of course, in the matter of the flowers and dress, I did try to solve the mystery; but, since I received the book, I became convinced that it was my fairy godmother who was doing it all, and I have
respected her wish for concealment and always shall. Perhaps some day she will reveal herself to me. I hope so, at least.”
“I wouldn’t hope it,” said the Old Lady discouragingly. “Fairy godmothers—at least, in all the fairy tales I ever read,—are somewhat apt to be queer, crochety people, much more agreeable when wrapped up in mystery than when met face to face.”
“I’m convinced that mine is the very opposite, and that the better I became acquainted with her, the more charming a personage I should find her,” said Sylvia gaily.
Mrs. Marshall came up at this juncture and entreated Miss Gray to sing for them, Miss Gray consenting
sweetly, the Old Lady was left alone and was rather glad of it. She enjoyed her conversation with Sylvia much more in thinking it over after she got home than while it was taking place. When an Old Lady has a guilty conscience it is apt to make her nervous and distract her thoughts from immediate pleasure. She wondered a little uneasily if Sylvia really did suspect her. Then she concluded that it was out of the question. Who would suspect a mean, unsociable Old Lady, who had no friends, and who gave only five cents to the Sewing Circle when everyone else gave ten or fifteen, to be a fairy godmother godmother, the donor of beautiful party dresses, and the recipient of
themselves, you know. It was really over a question of syntax we quarrelled. Peter told me I’d have to take him as he was, grammar and all, or go without him. I went without him—and ever since I’ve been wondering if I were really sorry, or if it were merely a pleasantly sentimental regret I was hugging to my heart. I daresay it’s the latter. Now, Louisa, I see the beginning of the plot far down in those placid eyes of yours. Strangle it at birth, dear Louisa. There is no use in your trying to make up a match between Peter and me now—no, nor in slyly inviting him up here to tea some evening,
as you are even this moment thinking of doing.”
“Well, I must go and milk the cows,” gasped Louisa, rather glad to make her escape. Nancy’s power of thought reading struck her as uncanny. She felt afraid to remain with her cou cousin any longer, lest Nancy should drag to light all the secrets of her being.
Nancy sat long on the steps after Louisa had gone—sat until the night came down, darkly and sweetly, over the garden, and the stars twinkled out above the firs. This had been her home in girlhood. Here she had lived and kept
fort of his own providing.
“Well, he should have got married,” she said snappishly. “I am not going to worry because he is a lonely old bachelor when all these years I have supposed him a comfy Benedict. Why doesn’t he hire him a housekeeper, at least? He can afford it; the place looks prosperous. Ugh! I’ve a fat bank account, and I’ve seen almost everything in the world worth seeing; but I’ve got several carefully hidden gray hairs and a horrible conviction that grammar isn’t one of the essential things in life after all. Well, I’m not going to moon out here in the dew any longer. I’m going in to read the smartest, frilliest, frothiest
Over his pallid brow where one might trace
Some lingering remnant of its childhood grace
The death damp fell; but even as they said
With tender reverent sadness, “He is dead,”
His dark eyes opened; thro’ the shades of night
They seemed to pierce with strange unearthly light.
Where looked those bright eyes? Far beyond the stars
Where Heaven sets its utmost purple bars?
Or did they see across the restless sea
A spot where daisies starred an English lea,?
Shrinking and shamed the mantle of the night.
All seemed at rest when from the twilight skies
The stars looked down like pitying angels eyes
On that dread field which since the Dawn’s first ray
Had purpled o’er the cheek of pallid Day
Had echoed to the battle thunder’s roll—
The mighty dirge of many a brave man’s soul.
And one was there who ’mid the smoke and flame
Of Death’s wild has havoc bore a soldier’s name,
A mere youth still who on that alien strand
Address: – At usual rates
Miss L.M. Montgomery
P.E. Island Can.
The Last Prayer
(A young soldier was found mortally wounded on the field after a hard-fought battle. As they bent over him he opened his eyes and murmuring, “Now I lay me down to sleep,” died).
The carnage of the battlefield was done,
Behind the red hills sank the shamed sun,
And shuddering nature drew across her sight,
Where, in the sunshine of her cottage door
Whose porch would echo to his step once no more,
His aged mother sat, her gentle eyes
Bright with reflected light from Paradise,
Lovingly thinking of her wandering boy,
Her widow’s comfort and her mother’s joy.
Saw he himself again, life but begun,
Kneeling hands clasped by her at set of sun,
While dimly conscious of some angel near
He lisped the little prayer to childhood dear?
Perchance he felt her toil-worn hand once more
In tender benediction as of yore
Rest its light touch upon his curly head
And her dear kiss when the “good-night” was said.
His pale lips move as Death’s dark shadows creep
And softly murmur, “Lay me down to sleep.”
A shuddering breath – a sigh – his spirit fled
To that far land where pain and grief are dead,
Where glory sleeps upon a tideless shore
And Earth’s dark vapours dim our eyes no more.
Address:- At usual rates.
Miss L.M. Montgomery
P.E. Island. Can.
The Violet’s Spell
Lucy Maud Montgomery
Only a violet in the trodden street
Breathing its purple life out ‘neath the tread
Of hundreds restless, eager, hurrying feet
Ere set of sun the frail thing will be dead,
“Only a violet”, so its loser said.
As in a dream the dusty street passed then,
Unheeded on my ear its tumult fell,
I saw a vision from the past again
T That wove across my heart a nameless spell,
Fond memories of a spot I once loved well.
A woodland lane where ferns grew green and tall,
And beeches wove their branches overhead,
All silence save some wild bird’s passing call
Or the swift echoing of a rabbit’s tread,
‘Neath those green arches fear and strife were dead.
Blue smiled the sky where thro’ the fir-trees green
The summer sunshine fell in golden sheaves,
And shyly from beneath their mossy screen
With half averted face as one who grieves,
Blue violets peeped thro’ last
And one was there with me whose voice and smile
In keeping seemed with those fair joyous hours!
A face where Nature set her every wile
And laughing leaves eyes blue as the sweet spring flowers
When wet with tear-drops of the Maytime showers