Welcome to Part 2 of The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900.
In last week’s post, I promised that this one would detail the “culmination of a summer romance” and I shall endeavor not to disappoint!
In her budding sexuality, Maud is confused by Mr. Mustard’s evening calls in which he sits and talks of pre-destination and the desire to be a minister, and judging by the entries, bores her to tears. Maud’s innocent attempts to ward off “that detestable Mustard’s” (65) visits are not to be missed, some of the comic highlights of the year’s entries.
As much as Maud attempts to shake off the unwelcome suitor, she embraces the flirtatious adventures with William ‘Will’ Pritchard (Laura Pritchard’s brother) and though it is obvious that she likes him, he likes her a good deal better than she does him.
Although there are some mentions of Nate being away to college, he does not factor in Maud’s life at this point as a romantic interest, only as a happy memory. It is on a warm July evening that Mr. Mustard builds up to his inevitable question regarding Maud’s affections and I’ll leave it to you to guess what her journal might have to say on that subject!
Towards the latter half of August, the end of summer means that Maud will return home to PEI, leaving behind her father and stepmother (and new baby brother); her newly-formed chums, Laura and Will; and return to her old haunts in Cavendish, now seemingly emptier by the absence of her old schoolmates. Maud and Will’s goodbye, it should be noted, was poignant. If you’re reading along, see the entry dated ‘Wednesday, August 26th, 1891’.
AGG fans will appreciate that in Maud’s documenting of life on PEI, are the first mentions of The Lake of Shining Waters (probably Long Pond), and Lover’s Lane, “the walk from the schoolhouse towards the home of David and Margaret Macneill” (footnote, 103). Maud’s Uncle Cuthbert gets married this year to a Miss Mary McLeod, and this is of course the famous surname used for Matthew and Marilla in AGG (now we know!)
Maud is such a character. She continues to get into so much mischief and yet, is rarely caught, like sneaking into an abandoned home, or the closed schoolhouse, and giving themselves a good fright in the Haunted Wood (133). There is so much of Anne in Maud’s childhood, although I suspect that Maud was more interested in boys all around than Anne, who held a grudge forever against Gilbert Blythe. As far as I can tell, Gilbert is, thus far, a fanciful myth, there is no basis for a character out of her school chums that matches the charming, infuriating boy who calls Anne “Carrots”.
I love how Maud goes to the “Literary” meetings, a sort of society for folks who want to discuss literature and what not. We get some idea of Maud’s taste in literature, such as preferring Irving, who “has the greater heart” to Emerson, who “has the greater intellect” (111). At one meeting in November, she does a recitation from The Lady of the Lake (1810) by Sir Walter Scott. These attempts are not merely to pass the time as Maud struggles to continue educating herself while trying to convince her grandparents to allow her to go back to school and continue her study for a teacher’s certificate, this time at a college in Charlottetown. They finally relent and she is to return when classes resume.
Maud is a spirited young woman, perhaps a bit too innocent (and this gets her in trouble), with a definite “type” of person she’s attracted to — men who like books, but not are not stuffy, these fellows like to ramble with her on walks and have a good time. Maud doesn’t have the suitors as some of her friends do (Laura Pritchard) but she is comely. Growing up under her grandparents’ care didn’t seem to prepare her for this coming of age. Although her father does dote upon her, Maud doesn’t confide in him as it seems to upset his pretty young wife.
Maud also has an interesting view towards the death of one of her classmates, Will Spear, which she describes as “the first bead on the string has slipped off and one by one, sooner or later, all the rest must follow” (68). I wonder whether this is a result of her Presbyterian faith or how she came to develop this picturesque and abstract view of death. Further reading perhaps?
Maud doesn’t comment much upon her writing endeavors but there are hints at this stage of her life that she is getting her work (articles, poems) out there and getting positive feedback. Her Grandpa Montgomery, during the summer, met Lieutenant-Governor Schultz, who:
“had read my article on Saskatchewan and admired it very much, and he told grandpa to ask me for my photo and anything I might have written since! Quite a compliment for little me, isn’t it?” (128)
Already she is a budding writer and although Maud doesn’t comment upon it, I can only hope that perhaps her maternal grandparents (depicted as stern) might begin to see her in a better light. I wonder if her depiction of Matthew and Marilla were in some way a reflection upon her own childhood, but it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to surmise as much.
We leave Maud for now, a spirited 18 and what new adventures shall we discover next week?
The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900, edited by Mary Hensley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston, Oxford University Press (published in Canada), 2012, hardcover, 484 pages.