Friday, 21 December 2012

L. M. Montgomery

Lucy Maud |Montgomery
"The Quarantine at Alexander Abraham's"

I found this story in my copy of The Oxford Book of Stories by Canadian Women in English, but it was originally published in Chronicles of Avonlea (which is available online here).  A stand-alone story, it is only loosely tied to the other stories in the collection through setting, and minor characters.  Those familiar with the "Anne" books will recognise the names of the Reverend Mr. Allan and his wife, and Dr. Blair from Carmody who play minor roles, along with a mention of Anne Shirley herself.

"The Quarantine at Alexander Abraham's" is the story of Miss MacPherson, a cantankerous unmarried lady, and lover of cats who is thrown together with Mr. Alexander Abraham, a cantankerous bachelor, and lover of dogs.  Miss MacPherson tells the story just as though she were relating the experience to a friend, with a strong and distinct narrative voice.  The story is well paced and humorous, slightly farcical, slightly sentimental, but wholly enjoyable.

The first paragraph:
I refused to take that class in Sunday School the first time I was asked.  It was not that I objected to teaching in the Sunday School.  On the contrary, I rather liked the idea; but it was the Rev. Mr. Allan who asked me, and it had always been a matter of principle with me never to do anything a man asked me to do if I could help it.  I was noted for that.  It saves a great deal of trouble and it simplifies everything beautifully.  I had always disliked men.  It must have been born in me, because as far back as I can remember, an antipathy to men and dogs was one of my strongest characteristics.  I was noted for that.  My experiences through life only served to deepen it.  The more I saw of men, the more I liked cats.

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