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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #70


    Veronique knew the landscape of the island as well as she knew the landscape of her own home.  She knew the old houses of St. Pierre climbing up the steep rock above the harbor, the deep gardens with their magnolia trees and hydrangea and bushes of jessamine, the rocky bays and cliffs covered with purple heather, the windmills on their green knolls, and the sandy roads arched over by storm-twisted stunted oaks.  Three children played with Veronique on the island, Papa, Mama, and Aunt Marguerite when they were little.  Papa had described them so vividly that Veronique was well acquainted with the rosy-cheeked boy with the torn, untidy clothes, the small brown girl whose nurse had said she was a fairy changeling, and the other little girl who was very like Veronique herself, except that she was fatter and laughed louder.  It was this little girl, Marguerite, who was the most important person in the island world, as Captain O'Hara was in the Green Dolphin world.  She was so important that the whole of the Island world seemed to group itself about her, and she was in the center of it all like a picture in a frame.       But the odd thing about her was that she did not stay in her frame.  She was not only with Veronique in the Island world but in the everyday world too.  If Veronique was playing by herself in the garden and suddenly felt lonely, she would find that Marguerite in her blue frock was running up the garden path beside her, tossing the curls out of her eyes.  And if she woke up in the night and was frightened, she would see Marguerite sitting on the bed, laughing and swinging her legs in their long white pantalettes.  She was always laughing, and when she was there, one did not feel afraid.  Veronique's instinct was to tell no one, not even Papa, about Marguerite coming out of her frame; but one day when she had been talking to Marguerite, Mamma came in and said, "Who in the world are you talking to, child?"  And Veronique, a truthful little girl, had replied instantly, "Aunt Marguerite."  And Mamma had looked startled and then had said sharply, "Nonsense!  Aunt Marguerite lives on the other side of the world.  She lives in France in a convent.  She's a nun.  You must not talk to people who aren't there, Veronique.  It's very silly."      But Veronique had not been discouraged by Mamma's sharp remarks.  She understood perfectly well that there were two Aunt Marguerites.  One was old, nearly as old as Papa, and was called Sister Clare and lived in France, and wrote her rather boring letters in a beautiful, pointed handwriting about being a good girl and saying her prayers; but the other was the little girl Marguerite, who was never boring but was the most exciting person in the whole world.  But she was very careful never to mention Marguerite to Mamma.  -Elizabeth Goudge, Green Dolphin Street (1944), p. 206






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