B1 Intermediate US 892 Folder Collection
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Dramatis Personae of Anne of Green Gables. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery.
Dramatis Personae: Anne/Narrator: read by Arielle Lipshaw
Marilla Cuthbert: read by Elizabeth Klett Matthew Cuthbert: read by Bruce Pirie
Mrs. Rachel Lynde: read by Amy Gramour Diana Barry: read by Sally McConnell
Gilbert Blythe: read by mb Stationmaster: read by Phil Chenevert
Mrs. Spencer: read by Sally McConnell Flora Jane Spencer: read by sherlock85
Mrs. Blewett: read by Tricia G Mrs. Barry: read by Linette Geisel
Mr. Phillips: read by David Lawrence Jimmy Glover/Boys: read by Peter Bishop
Ruby Gillis: read by ESFJ Girl Doctor: read by Phil Chenevert
Miss Josephine Barry: read by ashleyspence Mrs. Allan: read by Sarah Jennings
Josie Pye: read by rashada Carrie Sloane: read by Laura Payne
Miss Lucilla Harris: read by Sally McConnell Jane Andrews: read by Elizabeth Barr
Miss Stacy: read by Amy Gramour Moody Spurgeon McPherson: read by Peter Bishop
Lady: read by Availle CHAPTER I. Mrs. Rachel Lynde is Surprised
MRS. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow,
fringed with alders and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source
away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate,
headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and
cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde's Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little
stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde's door without due regard
for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window,
keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she
noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the
whys and wherefores thereof.
There are plenty of people in Avonlea and out of it, who can attend closely to their
neighbor's business by dint of neglecting their own; but Mrs. Rachel Lynde was one of
those capable creatures who can manage their own concerns and those of other folks into
the bargain. She was a notable housewife; her work was always done and well done; she
“ran” the Sewing Circle, helped run the Sunday-school, and was the strongest prop
of the Church Aid Society and Foreign Missions Auxiliary. Yet with all this Mrs. Rachel found
abundant time to sit for hours at her kitchen window, knitting “cotton warp” quilts—she
had knitted sixteen of them, as Avonlea housekeepers were wont to tell in awed voices—and keeping
a sharp eye on the main road that crossed the hollow and wound up the steep red hill
beyond. Since Avonlea occupied a little triangular peninsula jutting out into the Gulf of St.
Lawrence with water on two sides of it, anybody who went out of it or into it had to pass
over that hill road and so run the unseen gauntlet of Mrs. Rachel's all-seeing eye.
She was sitting there one afternoon in early June. The sun was coming in at the window
warm and bright; the orchard on the slope below the house was in a bridal flush of pinky-white
bloom, hummed over by a myriad of bees. Thomas Lynde—a meek little man whom Avonlea people
called “Rachel Lynde's husband”—was sowing his late turnip seed on the hill field
beyond the barn; and Matthew Cuthbert ought to have been sowing his on the big red brook
field away over by Green Gables. Mrs. Rachel knew that he ought because she had heard him
tell Peter Morrison the evening before in William J. Blair's store over at Carmody
that he meant to sow his turnip seed the next afternoon. Peter had asked him, of course,
for Matthew Cuthbert had never been known to volunteer information about anything in
his whole life.
And yet here was Matthew Cuthbert, at half-past three on the afternoon of a busy day, placidly
driving over the hollow and up the hill; moreover, he wore a white collar and his best suit of
clothes, which was plain proof that he was going out of Avonlea; and he had the buggy
and the sorrel mare, which betokened that he was going a considerable distance. Now,
where was Matthew Cuthbert going and why was he going there?
Had it been any other man in Avonlea, Mrs. Rachel, deftly putting this and that together,
might have given a pretty good guess as to both questions. But Matthew so rarely went
from home that it must be something pressing and unusual which was taking him; he was the
shyest man alive and hated to have to go among strangers or to any place where he might have
to talk. Matthew, dressed up with a white collar and driving in a buggy, was something
that didn't happen often. Mrs. Rachel, ponder as she might, could make nothing of it and
her afternoon's enjoyment was spoiled.
“I'll just step over to Green Gables after tea and find out from Marilla where he's
gone and why,” the worthy woman finally concluded. “He doesn't generally go to
town this time of year and he never visits; if he'd run out of turnip seed he wouldn't
dress up and take the buggy to go for more; he wasn't driving fast enough to be going
for a doctor. Yet something must have happened since last night to start him off. I'm clean
puzzled, that's what, and I won't know a minute's peace of mind or conscience until
I know what has taken Matthew Cuthbert out of Avonlea today.”
Accordingly after tea Mrs. Rachel set out; she had not far to go; the big, rambling,
orchard-embowered house where the Cuthberts lived was a scant quarter of a mile up the
road from Lynde's Hollow. To be sure, the long lane made it a good deal further. Matthew
Cuthbert's father, as shy and silent as his son after him, had got as far away as
he possibly could from his fellow men without actually retreating into the woods when he
founded his homestead. Green Gables was built at the furthest edge of his cleared land and
there it was to this day, barely visible from the main road along which all the other Avonlea
houses were so sociably situated. Mrs. Rachel Lynde did not call living in such a place
living at all.
“It's just staying, that's what,” she said as she stepped along the deep-rutted,
grassy lane bordered with wild rose bushes. “It's no wonder Matthew and Marilla are
both a little odd, living away back here by themselves. Trees aren't much company, though
dear knows if they were there'd be enough of them. I'd ruther look at people. To be
sure, they seem contented enough; but then, I suppose, they're used to it. A body can
get used to anything, even to being hanged, as the Irishman said.”
With this Mrs. Rachel stepped out of the lane into the backyard of Green Gables. Very green
and neat and precise was that yard, set about on one side with great patriarchal willows
and the other with prim Lombardies. Not a stray stick nor stone was to be seen, for
Mrs. Rachel would have seen it if there had been. Privately she was of the opinion that
Marilla Cuthbert swept that yard over as often as she swept her house. One could have eaten
a meal off the ground without over-brimming the proverbial peck of dirt.
Mrs. Rachel rapped smartly at the kitchen door and stepped in when bidden to do so.
The kitchen at Green Gables was a cheerful apartment—or would have been cheerful if
it had not been so painfully clean as to give it something of the appearance of an unused
parlor. Its windows looked east and west; through the west one, looking out on the back
yard, came a flood of mellow June sunlight; but the east one, whence you got a glimpse
of the bloom white cherry-trees in the left orchard and nodding, slender birches down
in the hollow by the brook, was greened over by a tangle of vines. Here sat Marilla Cuthbert,
when she sat at all, always slightly distrustful of sunshine, which seemed to her too dancing
and irresponsible a thing for a world which was meant to be taken seriously; and here
she sat now, knitting, and the table behind her was laid for supper.
Mrs. Rachel, before she had fairly closed the door, had taken a mental note of everything
that was on that table. There were three plates laid, so that Marilla must be expecting some
one home with Matthew to tea; but the dishes were everyday dishes and there was only crab-apple
preserves and one kind of cake, so that the expected company could not be any particular
company. Yet what of Matthew's white collar and the sorrel mare? Mrs. Rachel was getting
fairly dizzy with this unusual mystery about quiet, unmysterious Green Gables.
“Good evening, Rachel,” Marilla said briskly. “This is a real fine evening, isn't it?
Won't you sit down? How are all your folks?”
Something that for lack of any other name might be called friendship existed and always
had existed between Marilla Cuthbert and Mrs. Rachel, in spite of—or perhaps because of—their
dissimilarity.
Marilla was a tall, thin woman, with angles and without curves; her dark hair showed some
gray streaks and was always twisted up in a hard little knot behind with two wire hairpins
stuck aggressively through it. She looked like a woman of narrow experience and rigid
conscience, which she was; but there was a saving something about her mouth which, if
it had been ever so slightly developed, might have been considered indicative of a sense
of humor.
“We're all pretty well,” said Mrs. Rachel. “I was kind of afraid you weren't, though,
when I saw Matthew starting off today. I thought maybe he was going to the doctor's.”
Marilla's lips twitched understandingly. She had expected Mrs. Rachel up; she had known
that the sight of Matthew jaunting off so unaccountably would be too much for her neighbor's
curiosity.
“Oh, no, I'm quite well although I had a bad headache yesterday,” she said. “Matthew
went to Bright River. We're getting a little boy from an orphan asylum in Nova Scotia and
he's coming on the train tonight.”
If Marilla had said that Matthew had gone to Bright River to meet a kangaroo from Australia
Mrs. Rachel could not have been more astonished. She was actually stricken dumb for five seconds.
It was unsupposable that Marilla was making fun of her, but Mrs. Rachel was almost forced
to suppose it.
“Are you in earnest, Marilla?” she demanded when voice returned to her.
“Yes, of course,” said Marilla, as if getting boys from orphan asylums in Nova Scotia
were part of the usual spring work on any well-regulated Avonlea farm instead of being
an unheard of innovation.
Mrs. Rachel felt that she had received a severe mental jolt. She thought in exclamation points.
A boy! Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of all people adopting a boy! From an orphan asylum!
Well, the world was certainly turning upside down! She would be surprised at nothing after
this! Nothing!
“What on earth put such a notion into your head?” she demanded disapprovingly.
This had been done without her advice being asked, and must perforce be disapproved.
“Well, we've been thinking about it for some time—all winter in fact,” returned
Marilla. “Mrs. Alexander Spencer was up here one day before Christmas and she said
she was going to get a little girl from the asylum over in Hopeton in the spring. Her
cousin lives there and Mrs. Spencer has visited here and knows all about it. So Matthew and
I have talked it over off and on ever since. We thought we'd get a boy. Matthew is getting
up in years, you know—he's sixty—and he isn't so spry as he once was. His heart
troubles him a good deal. And you know how desperate hard it's got to be to get hired
help. There's never anybody to be had but those stupid, half-grown little French boys;
and as soon as you do get one broke into your ways and taught something he's up and off
to the lobster canneries or the States. At first Matthew suggested getting a Home boy.
But I said 'no' flat to that. 'They may be all right—I'm not saying they're
not—but no London street Arabs for me,' I said. 'Give me a native born at least.
There'll be a risk, no matter who we get. But I'll feel easier in my mind and sleep
sounder at nights if we get a born Canadian.' So in the end we decided to ask Mrs. Spencer
to pick us out one when she went over to get her little girl. We heard last week she was
going, so we sent her word by Richard Spencer's folks at Carmody to bring us a smart, likely
boy of about ten or eleven. We decided that would be the best age—old enough to be of
some use in doing chores right off and young enough to be trained up proper. We mean to
give him a good home and schooling. We had a telegram from Mrs. Alexander Spencer today—the
mail-man brought it from the station—saying they were coming on the five-thirty train
tonight. So Matthew went to Bright River to meet him. Mrs. Spencer will drop him off there.
Of course she goes on to White Sands station herself.”
Mrs. Rachel prided herself on always speaking her mind; she proceeded to speak it now, having
adjusted her mental attitude to this amazing piece of news.
“Well, Marilla, I'll just tell you plain that I think you're doing a mighty foolish
thing—a risky thing, that's what. You don't know what you're getting. You're
bringing a strange child into your house and home and you don't know a single thing about
him nor what his disposition is like nor what sort of parents he had nor how he's likely
to turn out. Why, it was only last week I read in the paper how a man and his wife up
west of the Island took a boy out of an orphan asylum and he set fire to the house at night—set
it on purpose, Marilla—and nearly burnt them to a crisp in their beds. And I know
another case where an adopted boy used to suck the eggs—they couldn't break him
of it. If you had asked my advice in the matter—which you didn't do, Marilla—I'd have said
for mercy's sake not to think of such a thing, that's what.”
This Job's comforting seemed neither to offend nor to alarm Marilla. She knitted steadily
on.
“I don't deny there's something in what you say, Rachel. I've had some qualms myself.
But Matthew was terrible set on it. I could see that, so I gave in. It's so seldom Matthew
sets his mind on anything that when he does I always feel it's my duty to give in. And
as for the risk, there's risks in pretty near everything a body does in this world.
There's risks in people's having children of their own if it comes to that—they don't
always turn out well. And then Nova Scotia is right close to the Island. It isn't as
if we were getting him from England or the States. He can't be much different from
ourselves.”
“Well, I hope it will turn out all right,” said Mrs. Rachel in a tone that plainly indicated
her painful doubts. “Only don't say I didn't warn you if he burns Green Gables
down or puts strychnine in the well—I heard of a case over in New Brunswick where an orphan
asylum child did that and the whole family died in fearful agonies. Only, it was a girl
in that instance.”
“Well, we're not getting a girl,” said Marilla, as if poisoning wells were a purely
feminine accomplishment and not to be dreaded in the case of a boy. “I'd never dream
of taking a girl to bring up. I wonder at Mrs. Alexander Spencer for doing it. But there,
she wouldn't shrink from adopting a whole orphan asylum if she took it into her head.”
Mrs. Rachel would have liked to stay until Matthew came home with his imported orphan.
But reflecting that it would be a good two hours at least before his arrival she concluded
to go up the road to Robert Bell's and tell the news. It would certainly make a sensation
second to none, and Mrs. Rachel dearly loved to make a sensation. So she took herself away,
somewhat to Marilla's relief, for the latter felt her doubts and fears reviving under the
influence of Mrs. Rachel's pessimism.
“Well, of all things that ever were or will be!” ejaculated Mrs. Rachel when she was
safely out in the lane. “It does really seem as if I must be dreaming. Well, I'm
sorry for that poor young one and no mistake. Matthew and Marilla don't know anything
about children and they'll expect him to be wiser and steadier that his own grandfather,
if so be's he ever had a grandfather, which is doubtful. It seems uncanny to think of
a child at Green Gables somehow; there's never been one there, for Matthew and Marilla
were grown up when the new house was built—if they ever were children, which is hard to
believe when one looks at them. I wouldn't be in that orphan's shoes for anything.
My, but I pity him, that's what.”
So said Mrs. Rachel to the wild rose bushes out of the fulness of her heart; but if she
could have seen the child who was waiting patiently at the Bright River station at that
very moment her pity would have been still deeper and
more profound.
CHAPTER II. Matthew Cuthbert is surprised MATTHEW Cuthbert and the sorrel mare jogged
comfortably over the eight miles to Bright River. It was a pretty road, running along
between snug farmsteads, with now and again a bit of balsamy fir wood to drive through
or a hollow where wild plums hung out their filmy bloom. The air was sweet with the breath
of many apple orchards and the meadows sloped away in the distance to horizon mists of pearl
and purple; while
“The little birds sang as if it were The one day of summer in all the year.”
Matthew enjoyed the drive after his own fashion, except during the moments when he met women
and had to nod to them—for in Prince Edward island you are supposed to nod to all and
sundry you meet on the road whether you know them or not.
Matthew dreaded all women except Marilla and Mrs. Rachel; he had an uncomfortable feeling
that the mysterious creatures were secretly laughing at him. He may have been quite right
in thinking so, for he was an odd-looking personage, with an ungainly figure and long
iron-gray hair that touched his stooping shoulders, and a full, soft brown beard which he had
worn ever since he was twenty. In fact, he had looked at twenty very much as he looked
at sixty, lacking a little of the grayness.
When he reached Bright River there was no sign of any train; he thought he was too early,
so he tied his horse in the yard of the small Bright River hotel and went over to the station
house. The long platform was almost deserted; the only living creature in sight being a
girl who was sitting on a pile of shingles at the extreme end. Matthew, barely noting
that it was a girl, sidled past her as quickly as possible without looking at her. Had he
looked he could hardly have failed to notice the tense rigidity and expectation of her
attitude and expression. She was sitting there waiting for something or somebody and, since
sitting and waiting was the only thing to do just then, she sat and waited with all
her might and main.
Matthew encountered the stationmaster locking up the ticket office preparatory to going
home for supper, and asked him if the five-thirty train would soon be along.
“The five-thirty train has been in and gone half an hour ago,” answered that brisk official.
“But there was a passenger dropped off for you—a little girl. She's sitting out there
on the shingles. I asked her to go into the ladies' waiting room, but she informed me
gravely that she preferred to stay outside. 'There was more scope for imagination,'
she said. She's a case, I should say.”
“I'm not expecting a girl,” said Matthew blankly. “It's a boy I've come for.
He should be here. Mrs. Alexander Spencer was to bring him over from Nova Scotia for
me.”
The stationmaster whistled.
“Guess there's some mistake,” he said. “Mrs. Spencer came off the train with that
girl and gave her into my charge. Said you and your sister were adopting her from an
orphan asylum and that you would be along for her presently. That's all I know about
it—and I haven't got any more orphans concealed hereabouts.”
“I don't understand,” said Matthew helplessly, wishing that Marilla was at hand to cope with
the situation.
“Well, you'd better question the girl,” said the station-master carelessly. “I dare
say she'll be able to explain—she's got a tongue of her own, that's certain.
Maybe they were out of boys of the brand you wanted.”
He walked jauntily away, being hungry, and the unfortunate Matthew was left to do that
which was harder for him than bearding a lion in its den—walk up to a girl—a strange
girl—an orphan girl—and demand of her why she wasn't a boy. Matthew groaned in
spirit as he turned about and shuffled gently down the platform towards her.
She had been watching him ever since he had passed her and she had her eyes on him now.
Matthew was not looking at her and would not have seen what she was really like if he had
been, but an ordinary observer would have seen this: A child of about eleven, garbed
in a very short, very tight, very ugly dress of yellowish-gray wincey. She wore a faded
brown sailor hat and beneath the hat, extending down her back, were two braids of very thick,
decidedly red hair. Her face was small, white and thin, also much freckled; her mouth was
large and so were her eyes, which looked green in some lights and moods and gray in others.
So far, the ordinary observer; an extraordinary observer might have seen that the chin was
very pointed and pronounced; that the big eyes were full of spirit and vivacity; that
the mouth was sweet-lipped and expressive; that the forehead was broad and full; in short,
our discerning extraordinary observer might have concluded that no commonplace soul inhabited
the body of this stray woman-child of whom shy Matthew Cuthbert was so ludicrously afraid.
Matthew, however, was spared the ordeal of speaking first, for as soon as she concluded
that he was coming to her she stood up, grasping with one thin brown hand the handle of a shabby,
old-fashioned carpet-bag; the other she held out to him.
“I suppose you are Mr. Matthew Cuthbert of Green Gables?” she said in a peculiarly
clear, sweet voice. “I'm very glad to see you. I was beginning to be afraid you
weren't coming for me and I was imagining all the things that might have happened to
prevent you. I had made up my mind that if you didn't come for me to-night I'd go
down the track to that big wild cherry-tree at the bend, and climb up into it to stay
all night. I wouldn't be a bit afraid, and it would be lovely to sleep in a wild cherry-tree
all white with bloom in the moonshine, don't you think? You could imagine you were dwelling
in marble halls, couldn't you? And I was quite sure you would come for me in the morning,
if you didn't to-night.”
Matthew had taken the scrawny little hand awkwardly in his; then and there he decided
what to do. He could not tell this child with the glowing eyes that there had been a mistake;
he would take her home and let Marilla do that. She couldn't be left at Bright River
anyhow, no matter what mistake had been made, so all questions and explanations might as
well be deferred until he was safely back at Green Gables.
“I'm sorry I was late,” he said shyly. “Come along. The horse is over in the yard.
Give me your bag.”
“Oh, I can carry it,” the child responded cheerfully. “It isn't heavy. I've got
all my worldly goods in it, but it isn't heavy. And if it isn't carried in just a
certain way the handle pulls out—so I'd better keep it because I know the exact knack
of it. It's an extremely old carpet-bag. Oh, I'm very glad you've come, even if
it would have been nice to sleep in a wild cherry-tree. We've got to drive a long piece,
haven't we? Mrs. Spencer said it was eight miles. I'm glad because I love driving.
Oh, it seems so wonderful that I'm going to live with you and belong to you. I've
never belonged to anybody—not really. But the asylum was the worst. I've only been
in it four months, but that was enough. I don't suppose you ever were an orphan in
an asylum, so you can't possibly understand what it is like. It's worse than anything
you could imagine. Mrs. Spencer said it was wicked of me to talk like that, but I didn't
mean to be wicked. It's so easy to be wicked without knowing it, isn't it? They were
good, you know—the asylum people. But there is so little scope for the imagination in
an asylum—only just in the other orphans. It was pretty interesting to imagine things
about them—to imagine that perhaps the girl who sat next to you was really the daughter
of a belted earl, who had been stolen away from her parents in her infancy by a cruel
nurse who died before she could confess. I used to lie awake at nights and imagine things
like that, because I didn't have time in the day. I guess that's why I'm so thin—I
am dreadful thin, ain't I? There isn't a pick on my bones. I do love to imagine I'm
nice and plump, with dimples in my elbows.”
With this Matthew's companion stopped talking, partly because she was out of breath and partly
because they had reached the buggy. Not another word did she say until they had left the village
and were driving down a steep little hill, the road part of which had been cut so deeply
into the soft soil, that the banks, fringed with blooming wild cherry-trees and slim white
birches, were several feet above their heads.
The child put out her hand and broke off a branch of wild plum that brushed against the
side of the buggy.
“Isn't that beautiful? What did that tree, leaning out from the bank, all white and lacy,
make you think of?” she asked.
“Well now, I dunno,” said Matthew.
“Why, a bride, of course—a bride all in white with a lovely misty veil. I've never
seen one, but I can imagine what she would look like. I don't ever expect to be a bride
myself. I'm so homely nobody will ever want to marry me—unless it might be a foreign
missionary. I suppose a foreign missionary mightn't be very particular. But I do hope
that some day I shall have a white dress. That is my highest ideal of earthly bliss.
I just love pretty clothes. And I've never had a pretty dress in my life that I can remember—but
of course it's all the more to look forward to, isn't it? And then I can imagine that
I'm dressed gorgeously. This morning when I left the asylum I felt so ashamed because
I had to wear this horrid old wincey dress. All the orphans had to wear them, you know.
A merchant in Hopeton last winter donated three hundred yards of wincey to the asylum.
Some people said it was because he couldn't sell it, but I'd rather believe that it
was out of the kindness of his heart, wouldn't you? When we got on the train I felt as if
everybody must be looking at me and pitying me. But I just went to work and imagined that
I had on the most beautiful pale blue silk dress—because when you are imagining you
might as well imagine something worth while—and a big hat all flowers and nodding plumes,
and a gold watch, and kid gloves and boots. I felt cheered up right away and I enjoyed
my trip to the Island with all my might. I wasn't a bit sick coming over in the boat.
Neither was Mrs. Spencer although she generally is. She said she hadn't time to get sick,
watching to see that I didn't fall overboard. She said she never saw the beat of me for
prowling about. But if it kept her from being seasick it's a mercy I did prowl, isn't
it? And I wanted to see everything that was to be seen on that boat, because I didn't
know whether I'd ever have another opportunity. Oh, there are a lot more cherry-trees all
in bloom! This Island is the bloomiest place. I just love it already, and I'm so glad
I'm going to live here. I've always heard that Prince Edward Island was the prettiest
place in the world, and I used to imagine I was living here, but I never really expected
I would. It's delightful when your imaginations come true, isn't it? But those red roads
are so funny. When we got into the train at Charlottetown and the red roads began to flash
past I asked Mrs. Spencer what made them red and she said she didn't know and for pity's
sake not to ask her any more questions. She said I must have asked her a thousand already.
I suppose I had, too, but how you going to find out about things if you don't ask questions?
And what does make the roads red?”
“Well now, I dunno,” said Matthew.
“Well, that is one of the things to find out sometime. Isn't it splendid to think
of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive—it's
such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything,
would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there? But am I talking too much?
People are always telling me I do. Would you rather I didn't talk? If you say so I'll
stop. I can stop when I make up my mind to it, although it's difficult.”
Matthew, much to his own surprise, was enjoying himself. Like most quiet folks he liked talkative
people when they were willing to do the talking themselves and did not expect him to keep
up his end of it. But he had never expected to enjoy the society of a little girl. Women
were bad enough in all conscience, but little girls were worse. He detested the way they
had of sidling past him timidly, with sidewise glances, as if they expected him to gobble
them up at a mouthful if they ventured to say a word. That was the Avonlea type of well-bred
little girl. But this freckled witch was very different, and although he found it rather
difficult for his slower intelligence to keep up with her brisk mental processes he thought
that he “kind of liked her chatter.” So he said as shyly as usual:
“Oh, you can talk as much as you like. I don't mind.”
“Oh, I'm so glad. I know you and I are going to get along together fine. It's such
a relief to talk when one wants to and not be told that children should be seen and not
heard. I've had that said to me a million times if I have once. And people laugh at
me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas you have to use big words to express
them, haven't you?”
“Well now, that seems reasonable,” said Matthew.
“Mrs. Spencer said that my tongue must be hung in the middle. But it isn't—it's
firmly fastened at one end. Mrs. Spencer said your place was named Green Gables. I asked
her all about it. And she said there were trees all around it. I was gladder than ever.
I just love trees. And there weren't any at all about the asylum, only a few poor weeny-teeny
things out in front with little whitewashed cagey things about them. They just looked
like orphans themselves, those trees did. It used to make me want to cry to look at
them. I used to say to them, 'Oh, you poor little things! If you were out in a great
big woods with other trees all around you and little mosses and June bells growing over
your roots and a brook not far away and birds singing in you branches, you could grow, couldn't
you? But you can't where you are. I know just exactly how you feel, little trees.'
I felt sorry to leave them behind this morning. You do get so attached to things like that,
don't you? Is there a brook anywhere near Green Gables? I forgot to ask Mrs. Spencer
that.”
“Well now, yes, there's one right below the house.”
“Fancy. It's always been one of my dreams to live near a brook. I never expected I would,
though. Dreams don't often come true, do they? Wouldn't it be nice if they did? But
just now I feel pretty nearly perfectly happy. I can't feel exactly perfectly happy because—well,
what color would you call this?”
She twitched one of her long glossy braids over her thin shoulder and held it up before
Matthew's eyes. Matthew was not used to deciding on the tints of ladies' tresses,
but in this case there couldn't be much doubt.
“It's red, ain't it?” he said.
The girl let the braid drop back with a sigh that seemed to come from her very toes and
to exhale forth all the sorrows of the ages.
“Yes, it's red,” she said resignedly. “Now you see why I can't be perfectly
happy. Nobody could who has red hair. I don't mind the other things so much—the freckles
and the green eyes and my skinniness. I can imagine them away. I can imagine that I have
a beautiful rose-leaf complexion and lovely starry violet eyes. But I cannot imagine that
red hair away. I do my best. I think to myself, 'Now my hair is a glorious black, black
as the raven's wing.' But all the time I know it is just plain red and it breaks
my heart. It will be my lifelong sorrow. I read of a girl once in a novel who had a lifelong
sorrow but it wasn't red hair. Her hair was pure gold rippling back from her alabaster
brow. What is an alabaster brow? I never could find out. Can you tell me?”
“Well now, I'm afraid I can't,” said Matthew, who was getting a little dizzy. He
felt as he had once felt in his rash youth when another boy had enticed him on the merry-go-round
at a picnic.
“Well, whatever it was it must have been something nice because she was divinely beautiful.
Have you ever imagined what it must feel like to be divinely beautiful?”
“Well now, no, I haven't,” confessed Matthew ingenuously.
“I have, often. Which would you rather be if you had the choice—divinely beautiful
or dazzlingly clever or angelically good?”
“Well now, I—I don't know exactly.”
“Neither do I. I can never decide. But it doesn't make much real difference for it
isn't likely I'll ever be either. It's certain I'll never be angelically good.
Mrs. Spencer says—oh, Mr. Cuthbert! Oh, Mr. Cuthbert!! Oh, Mr. Cuthbert!!!”
That was not what Mrs. Spencer had said; neither had the child tumbled out of the buggy nor
had Matthew done anything astonishing. They had simply rounded a curve in the road and
found themselves in the “Avenue.”
The “Avenue,” so called by the Newbridge people, was a stretch of road four or five
hundred yards long, completely arched over with huge, wide-spreading apple-trees, planted
years ago by an eccentric old farmer. Overhead was one long canopy of snowy fragrant bloom.
Below the boughs the air was full of a purple twilight and far ahead a glimpse of painted
sunset sky shone like a great rose window at the end of a cathedral aisle.
Its beauty seemed to strike the child dumb. She leaned back in the buggy, her thin hands
clasped before her, her face lifted rapturously to the white splendor above. Even when they
had passed out and were driving down the long slope to Newbridge she never moved or spoke.
Still with rapt face she gazed afar into the sunset west, with eyes that saw visions trooping
splendidly across that glowing background. Through Newbridge, a bustling little village
where dogs barked at them and small boys hooted and curious faces peered from the windows,
they drove, still in silence. When three more miles had dropped away behind them the child
had not spoken. She could keep silence, it was evident, as energetically as she could
talk.
“I guess you're feeling pretty tired and hungry,” Matthew ventured to say at last,
accounting for her long visitation of dumbness with the only reason he could think of. “But
we haven't very far to go now—only another mile.”
She came out of her reverie with a deep sigh and looked at him with the dreamy gaze of
a soul that had been wondering afar, star-led.
“Oh, Mr. Cuthbert,” she whispered, “that place we came through—that white place—what
was it?”
“Well now, you must mean the Avenue,” said Matthew after a few moments' profound
reflection. “It is a kind of pretty place.”
“Pretty? Oh, pretty doesn't seem the right word to use. Nor beautiful, either. They don't
go far enough. Oh, it was wonderful—wonderful. It's the first thing I ever saw that couldn't
be improved upon by imagination. It just satisfies me here”—she put one hand on her breast—“it
made a queer funny ache and yet it was a pleasant ache. Did you ever have an ache like that,
Mr. Cuthbert?”
“Well now, I just can't recollect that I ever had.”
“I have it lots of time—whenever I see anything royally beautiful. But they shouldn't
call that lovely place the Avenue. There is no meaning in a name like that. They should
call it—let me see—the White Way of Delight. Isn't that a nice imaginative name? When
I don't like the name of a place or a person I always imagine a new one and always think
of them so. There was a girl at the asylum whose name was Hepzibah Jenkins, but I always
imagined her as Rosalia DeVere. Other people may call that place the Avenue, but I shall
always call it the White Way of Delight. Have we really only another mile to go before we
get home? I'm glad and I'm sorry. I'm sorry because this drive has been so pleasant
and I'm always sorry when pleasant things end. Something still pleasanter may come after,
but you can never be sure. And it's so often the case that it isn't pleasanter. That
has been my experience anyhow. But I'm glad to think of getting home. You see, I've
never had a real home since I can remember. It gives me that pleasant ache again just
to think of coming to a really truly home. Oh, isn't that pretty!”
They had driven over the crest of a hill. Below them was a pond, looking almost like
a river so long and winding was it. A bridge spanned it midway and from there to its lower
end, where an amber-hued belt of sand-hills shut it in from the dark blue gulf beyond,
the water was a glory of many shifting hues—the most spiritual shadings of crocus and rose
and ethereal green, with other elusive tintings for which no name has ever been found. Above
the bridge the pond ran up into fringing groves of fir and maple and lay all darkly translucent
in their wavering shadows. Here and there a wild plum leaned out from the bank like
a white-clad girl tip-toeing to her own reflection. From the marsh at the head of the pond came
the clear, mournfully-sweet chorus of the frogs. There was a little gray house peering
around a white apple orchard on a slope beyond and, although it was not yet quite dark, a
light was shining from one of its windows.
“That's Barry's pond,” said Matthew.
“Oh, I don't like that name, either. I shall call it—let me see—the Lake of Shining
Waters. Yes, that is the right name for it. I know because of the thrill. When I hit on
a name that suits exactly it gives me a thrill. Do things ever give you a thrill?”
Matthew ruminated.
“Well now, yes. It always kind of gives me a thrill to see them ugly white grubs that
spade up in the cucumber beds. I hate the look of them.”
“Oh, I don't think that can be exactly the same kind of a thrill. Do you think it
can? There doesn't seem to be much connection between grubs and lakes of shining waters,
does there? But why do other people call it Barry's pond?”
“I reckon because Mr. Barry lives up there in that house. Orchard Slope's the name
of his place. If it wasn't for that big bush behind it you could see Green Gables
from here. But we have to go over the bridge and round by the road, so it's near half
a mile further.”
“Has Mr. Barry any little girls? Well, not so very little either—about my size.”
“He's got one about eleven. Her name is Diana.”
“Oh!” with a long indrawing of breath. “What a perfectly lovely name!”
“Well now, I dunno. There's something dreadful heathenish about it, seems to me.
I'd ruther Jane or Mary or some sensible name like that. But when Diana was born there
was a schoolmaster boarding there and they gave him the naming of her and he called her
Diana.”
“I wish there had been a schoolmaster like that around when I was born, then. Oh, here
we are at the bridge. I'm going to shut my eyes tight. I'm always afraid going over
bridges. I can't help imagining that perhaps just as we get to the middle, they'll crumple
up like a jack-knife and nip us. So I shut my eyes. But I always have to open them for
all when I think we're getting near the middle. Because, you see, if the bridge did
crumple up I'd want to see it crumple. What a jolly rumble it makes! I always like the
rumble part of it. Isn't it splendid there are so many things to like in this world?
There we're over. Now I'll look back. Good night, dear Lake of Shining Waters. I
always say good night to the things I love, just as I would to people. I think they like
it. That water looks as if it was smiling at me.”
When they had driven up the further hill and around a corner Matthew said:
“We're pretty near home now. That's Green Gables over—”
“Oh, don't tell me,” she interrupted breathlessly, catching at his partially raised
arm and shutting her eyes that she might not see his gesture. “Let me guess. I'm sure
I'll guess right.”
She opened her eyes and looked about her. They were on the crest of a hill. The sun
had set some time since, but the landscape was still clear in the mellow afterlight.
To the west a dark church spire rose up against a marigold sky. Below was a little valley
and beyond a long, gently-rising slope with snug farmsteads scattered along it. From one
to another the child's eyes darted, eager and wistful. At last they lingered on one
away to the left, far back from the road, dimly white with blossoming trees in the twilight
of the surrounding woods. Over it, in the stainless southwest sky, a great crystal-white
star was shining like a lamp of guidance and promise.
“That's it, isn't it?” she said, pointing.
Matthew slapped the reins on the sorrel's back delightedly.
“Well now, you've guessed it! But I reckon Mrs. Spencer described it so's you could
tell.”
“No, she didn't—really she didn't. All she said might just as well have been
about most of those other places. I hadn't any real idea what it looked like. But just
as soon as I saw it I felt it was home. Oh, it seems as if I must be in a dream. Do you
know, my arm must be black and blue from the elbow up, for I've pinched myself so many
times today. Every little while a horrible sickening feeling would come over me and I'd
be so afraid it was all a dream. Then I'd pinch myself to see if it was real—until
suddenly I remembered that even supposing it was only a dream I'd better go on dreaming
as long as I could; so I stopped pinching. But it is real and we're nearly home.”
With a sigh of rapture she relapsed into silence. Matthew stirred uneasily. He felt glad that
it would be Marilla and not he who would have to tell this waif of the world that the home
she longed for was not to be hers after all. They drove over Lynde's Hollow, where it
was already quite dark, but not so dark that Mrs. Rachel could not see them from her window
vantage, and up the hill and into the long lane of Green Gables. By the time they arrived
at the house Matthew was shrinking from the approaching revelation with an energy he did
not understand. It was not of Marilla or himself he was thinking of the trouble this mistake
was probably going to make for them, but of the child's disappointment. When he thought
of that rapt light being quenched in her eyes he had an uncomfortable feeling that he was
going to assist at murdering something—much the same feeling that came over him when he
had to kill a lamb or calf or any other innocent little creature.
The yard was quite dark as they turned into it and the poplar leaves were rustling silkily
all round it.
“Listen to the trees talking in their sleep,” she whispered, as he lifted her to the ground.
“What nice dreams they must have!”
Then, holding tightly to the carpet-bag which contained “all her worldly goods,” she
followed him into the house.
CHAPTER III. Marilla Cuthbert is Surprised MARILLA came briskly forward as Matthew opened
the door. But when her eyes fell on the odd little figure in the stiff, ugly dress, with
the long braids of red hair and the eager, luminous eyes, she stopped short in amazement.
“Matthew Cuthbert, who's that?” she ejaculated. “Where is the boy?”
“There wasn't any boy,” said Matthew wretchedly. “There was only her.”
He nodded at the child, remembering that he had never even asked her name.
“No boy! But there must have been a boy,” insisted Marilla. “We sent word to Mrs.
Spencer to bring a boy.”
“Well, she didn't. She brought her. I asked the station-master. And I had to bring
her home. She couldn't be left there, no matter where the mistake had come in.”
“Well, this is a pretty piece of business!” ejaculated Marilla.
During this dialogue the child had remained silent, her eyes roving from one to the other,
all the animation fading out of her face. Suddenly she seemed to grasp the full meaning
of what had been said. Dropping her precious carpet-bag she sprang forward a step and clasped
her hands.
“You don't want me!” she cried. “You don't want me because I'm not a boy! I
might have expected it. Nobody ever did want me. I might have known it was all too beautiful
to last. I might have known nobody really did want me. Oh, what shall I do? I'm going
to burst into tears!”
Burst into tears she did. Sitting down on a chair by the table, flinging her arms out
upon it, and burying her face in them, she proceeded to cry stormily. Marilla and Matthew
looked at each other deprecatingly across the stove. Neither of them knew what to say
or do. Finally Marilla stepped lamely into the breach.
“Well, well, there's no need to cry so about it.”
“Yes, there is need!” The child raised her head quickly, revealing a tear-stained
face and trembling lips. “You would cry, too, if you were an orphan and had come to
a place you thought was going to be home and found that they didn't want you because
you weren't a boy. Oh, this is the most tragical thing that ever happened to me!”
Something like a reluctant smile, rather rusty from long disuse, mellowed Marilla's grim
expression.
“Well, don't cry any more. We're not going to turn you out-of-doors to-night. You'll
have to stay here until we investigate this affair. What's your name?”
The child hesitated for a moment.
“Will you please call me Cordelia?” she said eagerly.
“Call you Cordelia? Is that your name?”
“No-o-o, it's not exactly my name, but I would love to be called Cordelia. It's
such a perfectly elegant name.”
“I don't know what on earth you mean. If Cordelia isn't your name, what is?”
“Anne Shirley,” reluctantly faltered forth the owner of that name, “but, oh, please
do call me Cordelia. It can't matter much to you what you call me if I'm only going
to be here a little while, can it? And Anne is such an unromantic name.”
“Unromantic fiddlesticks!” said the unsympathetic Marilla. “Anne is a real good plain sensible
name. You've no need to be ashamed of it.”
“Oh, I'm not ashamed of it,” explained Anne, “only I like Cordelia better. I've
always imagined that my name was Cordelia—at least, I always have of late years. When I
was young I used to imagine it was Geraldine, but I like Cordelia better now. But if you
call me Anne please call me Anne spelled with an E.”
“What difference does it make how it's spelled?” asked Marilla with another rusty
smile as she picked up the teapot.
“Oh, it makes such a difference. It looks so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced
can't you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n
looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished. If you'll only call
me Anne spelled with an E I shall try to reconcile myself to not being called Cordelia.”
“Very well, then, Anne spelled with an E, can you tell us how this mistake came to be
made? We sent word to Mrs. Spencer to bring us a boy. Were there no boys at the asylum?”
“Oh, yes, there was an abundance of them. But Mrs. Spencer said distinctly that you
wanted a girl about eleven years old. And the matron said she thought I would do. You
don't know how delighted I was. I couldn't sleep all last night for joy. Oh,” she added
reproachfully, turning to Matthew, “why didn't you tell me at the station that you
didn't want me and leave me there? If I hadn't seen the White Way of Delight and
the Lake of Shining Waters it wouldn't be so hard.”
“What on earth does she mean?” demanded Marilla, staring at Matthew.
“She—she's just referring to some conversation we had on the road,” said Matthew hastily.
“I'm going out to put the mare in, Marilla. Have tea ready when I come back.”
“Did Mrs. Spencer bring anybody over besides you?” continued Marilla when Matthew had
gone out.
“She brought Lily Jones for herself. Lily is only five years old and she is very beautiful
and had nut-brown hair. If I was very beautiful and had nut-brown hair would you keep me?”
“No. We want a boy to help Matthew on the farm. A girl would be of no use to us. Take
off your hat. I'll lay it and your bag on the hall table.”
Anne took off her hat meekly. Matthew came back presently and they sat down to supper.
But Anne could not eat. In vain she nibbled at the bread and butter and pecked at the
crab-apple preserve out of the little scalloped glass dish by her plate. She did not really
make any headway at all.
“You're not eating anything,” said Marilla sharply, eying her as if it were a serious
shortcoming. Anne sighed.
“I can't. I'm in the depths of despair. Can you eat when you are in the depths of
despair?”
“I've never been in the depths of despair, so I can't say,” responded Marilla.
“Weren't you? Well, did you ever try to imagine you were in the depths of despair?”
“No, I didn't.”
“Then I don't think you can understand what it's like. It's a very uncomfortable
feeling indeed. When you try to eat a lump comes right up in your throat and you can't
swallow anything, not even if it was a chocolate caramel. I had one chocolate caramel once
two years ago and it was simply delicious. I've often dreamed since then that I had
a lot of chocolate caramels, but I always wake up just when I'm going to eat them.
I do hope you won't be offended because I can't eat. Everything is extremely nice,
but still I cannot eat.”
“I guess she's tired,” said Matthew, who hadn't spoken since his return from
the barn. “Best put her to bed, Marilla.”
Marilla had been wondering where Anne should be put to bed. She had prepared a couch in
the kitchen chamber for the desired and expected boy. But, although it was neat and clean,
it did not seem quite the thing to put a girl there somehow. But the spare room was out
of the question for such a stray waif, so there remained only the east gable room. Marilla
lighted a candle and told Anne to follow her, which Anne spiritlessly did, taking her hat
and carpet-bag from the hall table as she passed. The hall was fearsomely clean; the
little gable chamber in which she presently found herself seemed still cleaner.
Marilla set the candle on a three-legged, three-cornered table and turned down the bedclothes.
“I suppose you have a nightgown?” she questioned.
Anne nodded.
“Yes, I have two. The matron of the asylum made them for me. They're fearfully skimpy.
There is never enough to go around in an asylum, so things are always skimpy—at least in
a poor asylum like ours. I hate skimpy night-dresses. But one can dream just as well in them as
in lovely trailing ones, with frills around the neck, that's one consolation.”
“Well, undress as quick as you can and go to bed. I'll come back in a few minutes
for the candle. I daren't trust you to put it out yourself. You'd likely set the place
on fire.”
When Marilla had gone Anne looked around her wistfully. The whitewashed walls were so painfully
bare and staring that she thought they must ache over their own bareness. The floor was
bare, too, except for a round braided mat in the middle such as Anne had never seen
before. In one corner was the bed, a high, old-fashioned one, with four dark, low-turned
posts. In the other corner was the aforesaid three-corner table adorned with a fat, red
velvet pin-cushion hard enough to turn the point of the most adventurous pin. Above it
hung a little six-by-eight mirror. Midway between table and bed was the window, with
an icy white muslin frill over it, and opposite it was the wash-stand. The whole apartment
was of a rigidity not to be described in words, but which sent a shiver to the very marrow
of Anne's bones. With a sob she hastily discarded her garments, put on the skimpy
nightgown and sprang into bed where she burrowed face downward into the pillow and pulled the
clothes over her head. When Marilla came up for the light various skimpy articles of raiment
scattered most untidily over the floor and a certain tempestuous appearance of the bed
were the only indications of any presence save her own.
She deliberately picked up Anne's clothes, placed them neatly on a prim yellow chair,
and then, taking up the candle, went over to the bed.
“Good night,” she said, a little awkwardly, but not unkindly.
Anne's white face and big eyes appeared over the bedclothes with a startling suddenness.
“How can you call it a good night when you know it must be the very worst night I've
ever had?” she said reproachfully.
Then she dived down into invisibility again.
Marilla went slowly down to the kitchen and proceeded to wash the supper dishes. Matthew
was smoking—a sure sign of perturbation of mind. He seldom smoked, for Marilla set
her face against it as a filthy habit; but at certain times and seasons he felt driven
to it and them Marilla winked at the practice, realizing that a mere man must have some vent
for his emotions.
“Well, this is a pretty kettle of fish,” she said wrathfully. “This is what comes
of sending word instead of going ourselves. Richard Spencer's folks have twisted that
message somehow. One of us will have to drive over and see Mrs. Spencer tomorrow, that's
certain. This girl will have to be sent back to the asylum.”
“Yes, I suppose so,” said Matthew reluctantly.
“You suppose so! Don't you know it?”
“Well now, she's a real nice little thing, Marilla. It's kind of a pity to send her
back when she's so set on staying here.”
“Matthew Cuthbert, you don't mean to say you think we ought to keep her!”
Marilla's astonishment could not have been greater if Matthew had expressed a predilection
for standing on his head.
“Well, now, no, I suppose not—not exactly,” stammered Matthew, uncomfortably driven into
a corner for his precise meaning. “I suppose—we could hardly be expected to keep her.”
“I should say not. What good would she be to us?”
“We might be some good to her,” said Matthew suddenly and unexpectedly.
“Matthew Cuthbert, I believe that child has bewitched you! I can see as plain as plain
that you want to keep her.”
“Well now, she's a real interesting little thing,” persisted Matthew. “You should
have heard her talk coming from the station.”
“Oh, she can talk fast enough. I saw that at once. It's nothing in her favour, either.
I don't like children who have so much to say. I don't want an orphan girl and if
I did she isn't the style I'd pick out. There's something I don't understand about
her. No, she's got to be despatched straight-way back to where she came from.”
“I could hire a French boy to help me,” said Matthew, “and she'd be company for
you.”
“I'm not suffering for company,” said Marilla shortly. “And I'm not going to
keep her.”
“Well now, it's just as you say, of course, Marilla,” said Matthew rising and putting
his pipe away. “I'm going to bed.”
To bed went Matthew. And to bed, when she had put her dishes away, went Marilla, frowning
most resolutely. And up-stairs, in the east gable, a lonely, heart-hungry, friendless
child cried herself
to sleep.
CHAPTER IV. Morning at Green Gables IT was broad daylight when Anne awoke and
sat up in bed, staring confusedly at the window through which a flood of cheery sunshine was
pouring and outside of which something white and feathery waved across glimpses of blue
sky.
For a moment she could not remember where she was. First came a delightful thrill, as
something very pleasant; then a horrible remembrance. This was Green Gables and they didn't want
her because she wasn't a boy!
But it was morning and, yes, it was a cherry-tree in full bloom outside of her window. With
a bound she was out of bed and across the floor. She pushed up the sash—it went up
stiffly and creakily, as if it hadn't been opened for a long time, which was the case;
and it stuck so tight that nothing was needed to hold it up.
Anne dropped on her knees and gazed out into the June morning, her eyes glistening with
delight. Oh, wasn't it beautiful? Wasn't it a lovely place? Suppose she wasn't really
going to stay here! She would imagine she was. There was scope for imagination here.
A huge cherry-tree grew outside, so close that its boughs tapped against the house,
and it was so thick-set with blossoms that hardly a leaf was to be seen. On both sides
of the house was a big orchard, one of apple-trees and one of cherry-trees, also showered over
with blossoms; and their grass was all sprinkled with dandelions. In the garden below were
lilac-trees purple with flowers, and their dizzily sweet fragrance drifted up to the
window on the morning wind.
Below the garden a green field lush with clover sloped down to the hollow where the brook
ran and where scores of white birches grew, upspringing airily out of an undergrowth suggestive
of delightful possibilities in ferns and mosses and woodsy things generally. Beyond it was
a hill, green and feathery with spruce and fir; there was a gap in it where the gray
gable end of the little house she had seen from the other side of the Lake of Shining
Waters was visible.
Off to the left were the big barns and beyond them, away down over green, low-sloping fields,
was a sparkling blue glimpse of sea.
Anne's beauty-loving eyes lingered on it all, taking everything greedily in. She had
looked on so many unlovely places in her life, poor child; but this was as lovely as anything
she had ever dreamed.
She knelt there, lost to everything but the loveliness around her, until she was startled
by a hand on her shoulder. Marilla had come in unheard by the small dreamer.
“It's time you were dressed,” she said curtly.
Marilla really did not know how to talk to the child, and her uncomfortable ignorance
made her crisp and curt when she did not mean to be.
Anne stood up and drew a long breath.
“Oh, isn't it wonderful?” she said, waving her hand comprehensively at the good
world outside.
“It's a big tree,” said Marilla, “and it blooms great, but the fruit don't amount
to much never—small and wormy.”
“Oh, I don't mean just the tree; of course it's lovely—yes, it's radiantly lovely—it
blooms as if it meant it—but I meant everything, the garden and the orchard and the brook and
the woods, the whole big dear world. Don't you feel as if you just loved the world on
a morning like this? And I can hear the brook laughing all the way up here. Have you ever
noticed what cheerful things brooks are? They're always laughing. Even in winter-time I've
heard them under the ice. I'm so glad there's a brook near Green Gables. Perhaps you think
it doesn't make any difference to me when you're not going to keep me, but it does.
I shall always like to remember that there is a brook at Green Gables even if I never
see it again. If there wasn't a brook I'd be haunted by the uncomfortable feeling that
there ought to be one. I'm not in the depths of despair this morning. I never can be in
the morning. Isn't it a splendid thing that there are mornings? But I feel very sad. I've
just been imagining that it was really me you wanted after all and that I was to stay
here for ever and ever. It was a great comfort while it lasted. But the worst of imagining
things is that the time comes when you have to stop and that hurts.”
“You'd better get dressed and come down-stairs and never mind your imaginings,” said Marilla
as soon as she could get a word in edgewise. “Breakfast is waiting. Wash your face and
comb your hair. Leave the window up and turn your bedclothes back over the foot of the
bed. Be as smart as you can.”
Anne could evidently be smart to some purpose for she was down-stairs in ten minutes'
time, with her clothes neatly on, her hair brushed and braided, her face washed, and
a comfortable consciousness pervading her soul that she had fulfilled all Marilla's
requirements. As a matter of fact, however, she had forgotten to turn back the bedclothes.
“I'm pretty hungry this morning,” she announced as she slipped into the chair Marilla
placed for her. “The world doesn't seem such a howling wilderness as it did last night.
I'm so glad it's a sunshiny morning. But I like rainy mornings real well, too. All
sorts of mornings are interesting, don't you think? You don't know what's going
to happen through the day, and there's so much scope for imagination. But I'm glad
it's not rainy today because it's easier to be cheerful and bear up under affliction
on a sunshiny day. I feel that I have a good deal to bear up under. It's all very well
to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it's
not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?”
“For pity's sake hold your tongue,” said Marilla. “You talk entirely too much
for a little girl.”
Thereupon Anne held her tongue so obediently and thoroughly that her continued silence
made Marilla rather nervous, as if in the presence of something not exactly natural.
Matthew also held his tongue,—but this was natural,—so that the meal was a very silent
one.
As it progressed Anne became more and more abstracted, eating mechanically, with her
big eyes fixed unswervingly and unseeingly on the sky outside the window. This made Marilla
more nervous than ever; she had an uncomfortable feeling that while this odd child's body
might be there at the table her spirit was far away in some remote airy cloudland, borne
aloft on the wings of imagination. Who would want such a child about the place?
Yet Matthew wished to keep her, of all unaccountable things! Marilla felt that he wanted it just
as much this morning as he had the night before, and that he would go on wanting it. That was
Matthew's way—take a whim into his head and cling to it with the most amazing silent
persistency—a persistency ten times more potent and effectual in its very silence than
if he had talked it out.
When the meal was ended Anne came out of her reverie and offered to wash the dishes.
“Can you wash dishes right?” asked Marilla distrustfully.
“Pretty well. I'm better at looking after children, though. I've had so much experience
at that. It's such a pity you haven't any here for me to look after.”
“I don't feel as if I wanted any more children to look after than I've got at
present. You're problem enough in all conscience. What's to be done with you I don't know.
Matthew is a most ridiculous man.”
“I think he's lovely,” said Anne reproachfully. “He is so very sympathetic. He didn't
mind how much I talked—he seemed to like it. I felt that he was a kindred spirit as
soon as ever I saw him.”
“You're both queer enough, if that's what you mean by kindred spirits,” said
Marilla with a sniff. “Yes, you may wash the dishes. Take plenty of hot water, and
be sure you dry them well. I've got enough to attend to this morning for I'll have
to drive over to White Sands in the afternoon and see Mrs. Spencer. You'll come with me
and we'll settle what's to be done with you. After you've finished the dishes go
up-stairs and make your bed.”
Anne washed the dishes deftly enough, as Marilla who kept a sharp eye on the process, discerned.
Later on she made her bed less successfully, for she had never learned the art of wrestling
with a feather tick. But is was done somehow and smoothed down; and then Marilla, to get
rid of her, told her she might go out-of-doors and amuse herself until dinner time.
Anne flew to the door, face alight, eyes glowing. On the very threshold she stopped short, wheeled
about, came back and sat down by the table, light and glow as effectually blotted out
as if some one had clapped an extinguisher on her.
“What's the matter now?” demanded Marilla.
“I don't dare go out,” said Anne, in the tone of a martyr relinquishing all earthly
joys. “If I can't stay here there is no use in my loving Green Gables. And if I go
out there and get acquainted with all those trees and flowers and the orchard and the
brook I'll not be able to help loving it. It's hard enough now, so I won't make
it any harder. I want to go out so much—everything seems to be calling to me, 'Anne, Anne,
come out to us. Anne, Anne, we want a playmate'—but it's better not. There is no use in loving
things if you have to be torn from them, is there? And it's so hard to keep from loving
things, isn't it? That was why I was so glad when I thought I was going to live here.
I thought I'd have so many things to love and nothing to hinder me. But that brief dream
is over. I am resigned to my fate now, so I don't think I'll go out for fear I'll
get unresigned again. What is the name of that geranium on the window-sill, please?”
“That's the apple-scented geranium.”
“Oh, I don't mean that sort of a name. I mean just a name you gave it yourself. Didn't
you give it a name? May I give it one then? May I call it—let me see—Bonny would do—may
I call it Bonny while I'm here? Oh, do let me!”
“Goodness, I don't care. But where on earth is the sense of naming a geranium?”
“Oh, I like things to have handles even if they are only geraniums. It makes them
seem more like people. How do you know but that it hurts a geranium's feelings just
to be called a geranium and nothing else? You wouldn't like to be called nothing but
a woman all the time. Yes, I shall call it Bonny. I named that cherry-tree outside my
bedroom window this morning. I called it Snow Queen because it was so white. Of course,
it won't always be in blossom, but one can imagine that it is, can't one?”
“I never in all my life saw or heard anything to equal her,” muttered Marilla, beating
a retreat down to the cellar after potatoes. “She is kind of interesting as Matthew says.
I can feel already that I'm wondering what on earth she'll say next. She'll be casting
a spell over me, too. She's cast it over Matthew. That look he gave me when he went
out said everything he said or hinted last night over again. I wish he was like other
men and would talk things out. A body could answer back then and argue him into reason.
But what's to be done with a man who just looks?”
Anne had relapsed into reverie, with her chin in her hands and her eyes on the sky, when
Marilla returned from her cellar pilgrimage. There Marilla left her until the early dinner
was on the table.
“I suppose I can have the mare and buggy this afternoon, Matthew?” said Marilla.
Matthew nodded and looked wistfully at Anne. Marilla intercepted the look and said grimly:
“I'm going to drive over to White Sands and settle this thing. I'll take Anne with
me and Mrs. Spencer will probably make arrangements to send her back to Nova Scotia at once. I'll
set your tea out for you and I'll be home in time to milk the cows.”
Still Matthew said nothing and Marilla had a sense of having wasted words and breath.
There is nothing more aggravating than a man who won't talk back—unless it is a woman
who won't.
Matthew hitched the sorrel into the buggy in due time and Marilla and Anne set off.
Matthew opened the yard gate for them and as they drove slowly through, he said, to
nobody in particular as it seemed:
“Little Jerry Buote from the Creek was here this morning, and I told him I guessed I'd
hire him for the summer.”
Marilla made no reply, but she hit the unlucky sorrel such a vicious clip with the whip that
the fat mare, unused to such treatment, whizzed indignantly down the lane at an alarming pace.
Marilla looked back once as the buggy bounced along and saw that aggravating Matthew leaning
over the gate, looking wistfully after them.
CHAPTER V. Anne's History DO you know,” said Anne confidentially,
“I've made up my mind to enjoy this drive. It's been my experience that you can nearly
always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will. Of course, you must
make it up firmly. I am not going to think about going back to the asylum while we're
having our drive. I'm just going to think about the drive. Oh, look, there's one little
early wild rose out! Isn't it lovely? Don't you think it must be glad to be a rose? Wouldn't
it be nice if roses could talk? I'm sure they could tell us such lovely things. And
isn't pink the most bewitching color in the world? I love it, but I can't wear it.
Redheaded people can't wear pink, not even in imagination. Did you ever know of anybody
whose hair was red when she was young, but got to be another color when she grew up?”
“No, I don't know as I ever did,” said Marilla mercilessly, “and I shouldn't
think it likely to happen in your case either.”
Anne sighed.
“Well, that is another hope gone. 'My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.'
That's a sentence I read in a book once, and I say it over to comfort myself whenever
I'm disappointed in anything.”
“I don't see where the comforting comes in myself,” said Marilla.
“Why, because it sounds so nice and romantic, just as if I were a heroine in a book, you
know. I am so fond of romantic things, and a graveyard full of buried hopes is about
as romantic a thing as one can imagine isn't it? I'm rather glad I have one. Are we going
across the Lake of Shining Waters today?”
“We're not going over Barry's pond, if that's what you mean by your Lake of
Shining Waters. We're going by the shore road.”
“Shore road sounds nice,” said Anne dreamily. “Is it as nice as it sounds? Just when you
said 'shore road' I saw it in a picture in my mind, as quick as that! And White Sands
is a pretty name, too; but I don't like it as well as Avonlea. Avonlea is a lovely
name. It just sounds like music. How far is it to White Sands?”
“It's five miles; and as you're evidently bent on talking you might as well talk to
some purpose by telling me what you know about yourself.”
“Oh, what I know about myself isn't really worth telling,” said Anne eagerly. “If
you'll only let me tell you what I imagine about myself you'll think it ever so much
more interesting.”
“No, I don't want any of your imaginings. Just you stick to bald facts. Begin at the
beginning. Where were you born and how old are you?”
“I was eleven last March,” said Anne, resigning herself to bald facts with a little
sigh. “And I was born in Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia. My father's name was Walter Shirley,
and he was a teacher in the Bolingbroke High School. My mother's name was Bertha Shirley.
Aren't Walter and Bertha lovely names? I'm so glad my parents had nice names. It would
be a real disgrace to have a father named—well, say Jedediah, wouldn't it?”
“I guess it doesn't matter what a person's name is as long as he behaves himself,”
said Marilla, feeling herself called upon to inculcate a good and useful moral.
“Well, I don't know.” Anne looked thoughtful. “I read in a book once that a rose by any
other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe
a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage. I suppose my father
could have been a good man even if he had been called Jedediah; but I'm sure it would
have been a cross. Well, my mother was a teacher in the High school, too, but when she married
father she gave up teaching, of course. A husband was enough responsibility. Mrs. Thomas
said that they were a pair of babies and as poor as church mice. They went to live in
a weeny-teeny little yellow house in Bolingbroke. I've never seen that house, but I've imagined
it thousands of times. I think it must have had honeysuckle over the parlor window and
lilacs in the front yard and lilies of the valley just inside the gate. Yes, and muslin
curtains in all the windows. Muslin curtains give a house such an air. I was born in that
house. Mrs. Thomas said I was the homeliest baby she ever saw, I was so scrawny and tiny
and nothing but eyes, but that mother thought I was perfectly beautiful. I should think
a mother would be a better judge than a poor woman who came in to scrub, wouldn't you?
I'm glad she was satisfied with me anyhow, I would feel so sad if I thought I was a disappointment
to her—because she didn't live very long after that, you see. She died of fever when
I was just three months old. I do wish she'd lived long enough for me to remember calling
her mother. I think it would be so sweet to say 'mother,' don't you? And father
died four days afterwards from fever too. That left me an orphan and folks were at their
wits' end, so Mrs. Thomas said, what to do with me. You see, nobody wanted me even
then. It seems to be my fate. Father and mother had both come from places far away and it
was well known they hadn't any relatives living. Finally Mrs. Thomas said she'd take
me, though she was poor and had a drunken husband. She brought me up by hand. Do you
know if there is anything in being brought up by hand that ought to make people who are
brought up that way better than other people? Because whenever I was naughty Mrs. Thomas
would ask me how I could be such a bad girl when she had brought me up by hand—reproachful-like.
“Mr. and Mrs. Thomas moved away from Bolingbroke to Marysville, and I lived with them until
I was eight years old. I helped look after the Thomas children—there were four of them
younger than me—and I can tell you they took a lot of looking after. Then Mr. Thomas
was killed falling under a train and his mother offered to take Mrs. Thomas and the children,
but she didn't want me. Mrs. Thomas was at her wits' end, so she said, what to do
with me. Then Mrs. Hammond from up the river came down and said she'd take me, seeing
I was handy with children, and I went up the river to live with her in a little clearing
among the stumps. It was a very lonesome place. I'm sure I could never have lived there
if I hadn't had an imagination. Mr. Hammond worked a little sawmill up there, and Mrs.
Hammond had eight children. She had twins three times. I like babies in moderation,
but twins three times in succession is too much. I told Mrs. Hammond so firmly, when
the last pair came. I used to get so dreadfully tired carrying them about.
“I lived up river with Mrs. Hammond over two years, and then Mr. Hammond died and Mrs.
Hammond broke up housekeeping. She divided her children among her relatives and went
to the States. I had to go to the asylum at Hopeton, because nobody would take me. They
didn't want me at the asylum, either; they said they were over-crowded as it was. But
they had to take me and I was there four months until Mrs. Spencer came.”
Anne finished up with another sigh, of relief this time. Evidently she did not like talking
about her experiences in a world that had not wanted her.
“Did you ever go to school?” demanded Marilla, turning the sorrel mare down the
shore road.
“Not a great deal. I went a little the last year I stayed with Mrs. Thomas. When I went
up river we were so far from a school that I couldn't walk it in winter and there was
a vacation in summer, so I could only go in the spring and fall. But of course I went
while I was at the asylum. I can read pretty well and I know ever so many pieces of poetry
off by heart—'The Battle of Hohenlinden' and 'Edinburgh after Flodden,' and 'Bingen
of the Rhine,' and most of the 'Lady of the Lake' and most of 'The Seasons'
by James Thompson. Don't you just love poetry that gives you a crinkly feeling up and down
your back? There is a piece in the Fifth Reader—'The Downfall of Poland'—that is just full
of thrills. Of course, I wasn't in the Fifth Reader—I was only in the Fourth—but the
big girls used to lend me theirs to read.”
“Were those women—Mrs. Thomas and Mrs. Hammond—good to you?” asked Marilla, looking
at Anne out of the corner of her eye.
“O-o-o-h,” faltered Anne. Her sensitive little face suddenly flushed scarlet and embarrassment
sat on her brow. “Oh, they meant to be—I know they meant to be just as good and kind
as possible. And when people mean to be good to you, you don't mind very much when they're
not quite—always. They had a good deal to worry them, you know. It's a very trying
to have a drunken husband, you see; and it must be very trying to have twins three times
in succession, don't you think? But I feel sure they meant to be good to me.”
Marilla asked no more questions. Anne gave herself up to a silent rapture over the shore
road and Marilla guided the sorrel abstractedly while she pondered deeply. Pity was suddenly
stirring in her heart for the child. What a starved, unloved life she had had—a life
of drudgery and poverty and neglect; for Marilla was shrewd enough to read between the lines
of Anne's history and divine the truth. No wonder she had been so delighted at the
prospect of a real home. It was a pity she had to be sent back. What if she, Marilla,
should indulge Matthew's unaccountable whim and let her stay? He was set on it; and the
child seemed a nice, teachable little thing.
“She's got too much to say,” thought Marilla, “but she might be trained out of
that. And there's nothing rude or slangy in what she does say. She's ladylike. It's
likely her people were nice folks.”
The shore road was “woodsy and wild and lonesome.” On the right hand, scrub firs,
their spirits quite unbroken by long years of tussle with the gulf winds, grew thickly.
On the left were the steep red sandstone cliffs, so near the track in places that a mare of
less steadiness than the sorrel might have tried the nerves of the people behind her.
Down at the base of the cliffs were heaps of surf-worn rocks or little sandy coves inlaid
with pebbles as with ocean jewels; beyond lay the sea, shimmering and blue, and over
it soared the gulls, their pinions flashing silvery in the sunlight.
“Isn't the sea wonderful?” said Anne, rousing from a long, wide-eyed silence. “Once,
when I lived in Marysville, Mr. Thomas hired an express wagon and took us all to spend
the day at the shore ten miles away. I enjoyed every moment of that day, even if I had to
look after the children all the time. I lived it over in happy dreams for years. But this
shore is nicer than the Marysville shore. Aren't those gulls splendid? Would you like
to be a gull? I think I would—that is, if I couldn't be a human girl. Don't you
think it would be nice to wake up at sunrise and swoop down over the water and away out
over that lovely blue all day; and then at night to fly back to one's nest? Oh, I can
just imagine myself doing it. What big house is that just ahead, please?”
“That's the White Sands Hotel. Mr. Kirke runs it, but the season hasn't begun yet.
There are heaps of Americans come there for the summer. They think this shore is just
about right.”
“I was afraid it might be Mrs. Spencer's place,” said Anne mournfully. “I don't
want to get there. Somehow, it will seem like the end of everything.”
CHAPTER VI. Marilla Makes Up Her Mind GET there they did, however, in due season.
Mrs. Spencer lived in a big yellow house at White Sands Cove, and she came to the door
with surprise and welcome mingled on her benevolent face.
“Dear, dear,” she exclaimed, “you're the last folks I was looking for today, but
I'm real glad to see you. You'll put your horse in? And how are you, Anne?”
“I'm as well as can be expected, thank you,” said Anne smilelessly. A blight seemed
to have descended on her.
“I suppose we'll stay a little while to rest the mare,” said Marilla, “but I promised
Matthew I'd be home early. The fact is, Mrs. Spencer, there's been a queer mistake
somewhere, and I've come over to see where it is. We send word, Matthew and I, for you
to bring us a boy from the asylum. We told your brother Robert to tell you we wanted
a boy ten or eleven years old.”
“Marilla Cuthbert, you don't say so!” said Mrs. Spencer in distress. “Why, Robert
sent word down by his daughter Nancy and she said you wanted a girl—didn't she Flora
Jane?” appealing to her daughter who had come out to the steps.
“She certainly did, Miss Cuthbert,” corroborated Flora Jane earnestly.
“I'm dreadful sorry,” said Mrs. Spencer. “It's too bad; but it certainly wasn't
my fault, you see, Miss Cuthbert. I did the best I could and I thought I was following
your instructions. Nancy is a terrible flighty thing. I've often had to scold her well
for her heedlessness.”
“It was our own fault,” said Marilla resignedly. “We should have come to you ourselves and
not left an important message to be passed along by word of mouth in that fashion. Anyhow,
the mistake has been made and the only thing to do is to set it right. Can we send the
child back to the asylum? I suppose they'll take her back, won't they?”
“I suppose so,” said Mrs. Spencer thoughtfully, “but I don't think it will be necessary
to send her back. Mrs. Peter Blewett was up here yesterday, and she was saying to me how
much she wished she'd sent by me for a little girl to help her. Mrs. Peter has a large family,
you know, and she finds it hard to get help. Anne will be the very girl for you. I call
it positively providential.”
Marilla did not look as if she thought Providence had much to do with the matter. Here was an
unexpectedly good chance to get this unwelcome orphan off her hands, and she did not even
feel grateful for it.
She knew Mrs. Peter Blewett only by sight as a small, shrewish-faced woman without an
ounce of superfluous flesh on her bones. But she had heard of her. “A terrible worker
and driver,” Mrs. Peter was said to be; and discharged servant girls told fearsome
tales of her temper and stinginess, and her family of pert, quarrelsome children. Marilla
felt a qualm of conscience at the thought of handing Anne over to her tender mercies.
“Well, I'll go in and we'll talk the matter over,” she said.
“And if there isn't Mrs. Peter coming up the lane this blessed minute!” exclaimed
Mrs. Spencer, bustling her guests through the hall into the parlor, where a deadly chill
struck on them as if the air had been strained so long through dark green, closely drawn
blinds that it had lost every particle of warmth it had ever possessed. “That is real
lucky, for we can settle the matter right away. Take the armchair, Miss Cuthbert. Anne,
you sit here on the ottoman and don't wiggle. Let me take your hats. Flora Jane, go out
and put the kettle on. Good afternoon, Mrs. Blewett. We were just saying how fortunate
it was you happened along. Let me introduce you two ladies. Mrs. Blewett, Miss Cuthbert.
Please excuse me for just a moment. I forgot to tell Flora Jane to take the buns out of
the oven.”
Mrs. Spencer whisked away, after pulling up the blinds. Anne sitting mutely on the ottoman,
with her hands clasped tightly in her lap, stared at Mrs Blewett as one fascinated. Was
she to be given into the keeping of this sharp-faced, sharp-eyed woman? She felt a lump coming up
in her throat and her eyes smarted painfully. She was beginning to be afraid she couldn't
keep the tears back when Mrs. Spencer returned, flushed and beaming, quite capable of taking
any and every difficulty, physical, mental or spiritual, into consideration and settling
it out of hand.
“It seems there's been a mistake about this little girl, Mrs. Blewett,” she said.
“I was under the impression that Mr. and Miss Cuthbert wanted a little girl to adopt.
I was certainly told so. But it seems it was a boy they wanted. So if you're still of
the same mind you were yesterday, I think she'll be just the thing for you.”
Mrs. Blewett darted her eyes over Anne from head to foot.
“How old are you and what's your name?” she demanded.
“Anne Shirley,” faltered the shrinking child, not daring to make any stipulations
regarding the spelling thereof, “and I'm eleven years old.”
“Humph! You don't look as if there was much to you. But you're wiry. I don't
know but the wiry ones are the best after all. Well, if I take you you'll have to
be a good girl, you know—good and smart and respectful. I'll expect you to earn
your keep, and no mistake about that. Yes, I suppose I might as well take her off your
hands, Miss Cuthbert. The baby's awful fractious, and I'm clean worn out attending to him.
If you like I can take her right home now.”
Marilla looked at Anne and softened at sight of the child's pale face with its look of
mute misery—the misery of a helpless little creature who finds itself once more caught
in the trap from which it had escaped. Marilla felt an uncomfortable conviction that, if
she denied the appeal of that look, it would haunt her to her dying day. More-over, she
did not fancy Mrs. Blewett. To hand a sensitive, “highstrung” child over to such a woman!
No, she could not take the responsibility of doing that!
“Well, I don't know,” she said slowly. “I didn't say that Matthew and I had absolutely
decided that we wouldn't keep her. In fact I may say that Matthew is disposed to keep
her. I just came over to find out how the mistake had occurred. I think I'd better
take her home again and talk it over with Matthew. I feel that I oughtn't to decide
on anything without consulting him. If we make up our mind not to keep her we'll bring
or send her over to you tomorrow night. If we don't you may know that she is going
to stay with us. Will that suit you, Mrs. Blewett?”
“I suppose it'll have to,” said Mrs. Blewett ungraciously.
During Marilla's speech a sunrise had been dawning on Anne's face. First the look of
despair faded out; then came a faint flush of hope; her eyes grew deep and bright as
morning stars. The child was quite transfigured; and, a moment later, when Mrs. Spencer and
Mrs. Blewett went out in quest of a recipe the latter had come to borrow she sprang up
and flew across the room to Marilla.
“Oh, Miss Cuthbert, did you really say that perhaps you would let me stay at Green Gables?”
she said, in a breathless whisper, as if speaking aloud might shatter the glorious possibility.
“Did you really say it? Or did I only imagine that you did?”
“I think you'd better learn to control that imagination of yours, Anne, if you can't
distinguish between what is real and what isn't,” said Marilla crossly. “Yes,
you did hear me say just that and no more. It isn't decided yet and perhaps we will
conclude to let Mrs. Blewett take you after all. She certainly needs you much more than
I do.”
“I'd rather go back to the asylum than go to live with her,” said Anne passionately.
“She looks exactly like a—like a gimlet.”
Marilla smothered a smile under the conviction that Anne must be reproved for such a speech.
“A little girl like you should be ashamed of talking so about a lady and a stranger,”
she said severely. “Go back and sit down quietly and hold your tongue and behave as
a good girl should.”
“I'll try to do and be anything you want me, if you'll only keep me,” said Anne,
returning meekly to her ottoman.
When they arrived back at Green Gables that evening Matthew met them in the lane. Marilla
from afar had noted him prowling along it and guessed his motive. She was prepared for
the relief she read in his face when he saw that she had at least brought back Anne back
with her. But she said nothing, to him, relative to the affair, until they were both out in
the yard behind the barn milking the cows. Then she briefly told him Anne's history
and the result of the interview with Mrs. Spencer.
“I wouldn't give a dog I liked to that Blewett woman,” said Matthew with unusual
vim.
“I don't fancy her style myself,” admitted Marilla, “but it's that or keeping her
ourselves, Matthew. And since you seem to want her, I suppose I'm willing—or have
to be. I've been thinking over the idea until I've got kind of used to it. It seems
a sort of duty. I've never brought up a child, especially a girl, and I dare say I'll
make a terrible mess of it. But I'll do my best. So far as I'm concerned, Matthew,
she may stay.”
Matthew's shy face was a glow of delight.
“Well now, I reckoned you'd come to see it in that light, Marilla,” he said. “She's
such an interesting little thing.”
“It'd be more to the point if you could say she was a useful little thing,” retorted
Marilla, “but I'll make it my business to see she's trained to be that. And mind,
Matthew, you're not to go interfering with my methods. Perhaps an old maid doesn't
know much about bringing up a child, but I guess she knows more than an old bachelor.
So you just leave me to manage her. When I fail it'll be time enough to put your oar
in.”
“There, there, Marilla, you can have your own way,” said Matthew reassuringly. “Only
be as good and kind to her as you can without spoiling her. I kind of think she's one
of the sort you can do anything with if you only get her to love you.”
Marilla sniffed, to express her contempt for Matthew's opinions concerning anything feminine,
and walked off to the dairy with the pails.
“I won't tell her tonight that she can stay,” she reflected, as she strained the
milk into the creamers. “She'd be so excited that she wouldn't sleep a wink. Marilla
Cuthbert, you're fairly in for it. Did you ever suppose you'd see the day when you'd
be adopting an orphan girl? It's surprising enough; but not so surprising as that Matthew
should be at the bottom of it, him that always seemed to have such a mortal dread of little
girls. Anyhow, we've decided on the experiment and goodness only knows what will come
of it.”
CHAPTER VII. Anne Says Her Prayers
WHEN Marilla took Anne up to bed that night she said stiffly:
“Now, Anne, I noticed last night that you threw your clothes all about the floor when
you took them off. That is a very untidy habit, and I can't allow it at all. As soon as
you take off any article of clothing fold it neatly and place it on the chair. I haven't
any use at all for little girls who aren't neat.”
“I was so harrowed up in my mind last night that I didn't think about my clothes at
all,” said Anne. “I'll fold them nicely tonight. They always made us do that at the
asylum. Half the time, though, I'd forget, I'd be in such a hurry to get into bed nice
and quiet and imagine things.”
“You'll have to remember a little better if you stay here,” admonished Marilla. “There,
that looks something like. Say your prayers now and get into bed.”
“I never say any prayers,” announced Anne.
Marilla looked horrified astonishment.
“Why, Anne, what do you mean? Were you never taught to say your prayers? God always wants
little girls to say their prayers. Don't you know who God is, Anne?”
“'God is a spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power,
holiness, justice, goodness, and truth,'” responded Anne promptly and glibly.
Marilla looked rather relieved.
“So you do know something then, thank goodness! You're not quite a heathen. Where did you
learn that?”
“Oh, at the asylum Sunday-school. They made us learn the whole catechism. I liked it pretty
well. There's something splendid about some of the words. 'Infinite, eternal and unchangeable.'
Isn't that grand? It has such a roll to it—just like a big organ playing. You couldn't
quite call it poetry, I suppose, but it sounds a lot like it, doesn't it?”
“We're not talking about poetry, Anne—we are talking about saying your prayers. Don't
you know it's a terrible wicked thing not to say your prayers every night? I'm afraid
you are a very bad little girl.”
“You'd find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair,” said Anne reproachfully.
“People who haven't red hair don't know what trouble is. Mrs. Thomas told me that
God made my hair red on purpose, and I've never cared about Him since. And anyhow I'd
always be too tired at night to bother saying prayers. People who have to look after twins
can't be expected to say their prayers. Now, do you honestly think they can?”
Marilla decided that Anne's religious training must be begun at once. Plainly there was no
time to be lost.
“You must say your prayers while you are under my roof, Anne.”
“Why, of course, if you want me to,” assented Anne cheerfully. “I'd do anything to oblige
you. But you'll have to tell me what to say for this once. After I get into bed I'll
imagine out a real nice prayer to say always. I believe that it will be quite interesting,
now that I come to think of it.”
“You must kneel down,” said Marilla in embarrassment.
Anne knelt at Marilla's knee and looked up gravely.
“Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I'll tell you what
I'd do. I'd go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep, woods, and
I'd look up into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there
was no end to its blueness. And then I'd just feel a prayer. Well, I'm ready. What
am I to say?”
Marilla felt more embarrassed than ever. She had intended to teach Anne the childish classic,
“Now I lay me down to sleep.” But she had, as I have told you, the glimmerings of
a sense of humor—which is simply another name for a sense of fitness of things; and
it suddenly occurred to her that that simple little prayer, sacred to white-robed childhood
lisping at motherly knees, was entirely unsuited to this freckled witch of a girl who knew
and cared nothing about God's love, since she had never had it translated to her through
the medium of human love.
“You're old enough to pray for yourself, Anne,” she said finally. “Just thank God
for your blessings and ask Him humbly for the things you want.”
“Well, I'll do my best,” promised Anne, burying her face in Marilla's lap. “Gracious
heavenly Father—that's the way the ministers say it in church, so I suppose it's all
right in private prayer, isn't it?” she interjected, lifting her head for a moment.
“Gracious heavenly Father, I thank Thee for the White
Way of Delight and the Lake of Shining Waters and Bonny
and the Snow Queen. I'm really extremely grateful for
them. And that's all the blessings I can think of just
now to thank Thee for. As for the things I want,
they're so numerous that it would take a great deal of
time to name them all so I will only mention the two
most important. Please let me stay at Green Gables;
and please let me be good-looking when I grow up.
I remain, “Yours respectfully,
Anne Shirley. “There, did I do all right?” she asked
eagerly, getting up. “I could have made it much more flowery if I'd had a little
more time to think it over.”
Poor Marilla was only preserved from complete collapse by remembering that it was not irreverence,
but simply spiritual ignorance on the part of Anne that was responsible for this extraordinary
petition. She tucked the child up in bed, mentally vowing that she should be taught
a prayer the very next day, and was leaving the room with the light when Anne called her
back.
“I've just thought of it now. I should have said, 'Amen' in place of 'yours
respectfully,' shouldn't I?—the way the ministers do. I'd forgotten it, but
I felt a prayer should be finished off in some way, so I put in the other. Do you suppose
it will make any difference?”
“I—I don't suppose it will,” said Marilla. “Go to sleep now like a good child.
Good night.”
“I can only say good night tonight with a clear conscience,” said Anne, cuddling
luxuriously down among her pillows.
Marilla retreated to the kitchen, set the candle firmly on the table, and glared at
Matthew.
“Matthew Cuthbert, it's about time somebody adopted that child and taught her something.
She's next door to a perfect heathen. Will you believe that she never said a prayer in
her life till tonight? I'll send her to the manse tomorrow and borrow the Peep of
the Day series, that's what I'll do. And she shall go to Sunday-school just as soon
as I can get some suitable clothes made for her. I foresee that I shall have my hands
full. Well, well, we can't get through this world without our share of trouble. I've
had a pretty easy life of it so far, but my time has come at last and I suppose I'll
just have to make the best
of it.”
CHAPTER VIII. Anne's Bringing-up Is Begun FOR reasons best known to herself, Marilla
did not tell Anne that she was to stay at Green Gables until the next afternoon. During
the forenoon she kept the child busy with various tasks and watched over her with a
keen eye while she did them. By noon she had concluded that Anne was smart and obedient,
willing to work and quick to learn; her most serious shortcoming seemed to be a tendency
to fall into daydreams in the middle of a task and forget all about it until such time
as she was sharply recalled to earth by a reprimand or a catastrophe.
When Anne had finished washing the dinner dishes she suddenly confronted Marilla with
the air and expression of one desperately determined to learn the worst. Her thin little
body trembled from head to foot; her face flushed and her eyes dilated until they were
almost black; she clasped her hands tightly and said in an imploring voice:
“Oh, please, Miss Cuthbert, won't you tell me if you are going to send me away or
not? I've tried to be patient all the morning, but I really feel that I cannot bear not knowing
any longer. It's a dreadful feeling. Please tell me.”
“You haven't scalded the dishcloth in clean hot water as I told you to do,” said
Marilla immovably. “Just go and do it before you ask any more questions, Anne.”
Anne went and attended to the dishcloth. Then she returned to Marilla and fastened imploring
eyes of the latter's face. “Well,” said Marilla, unable to find any excuse for deferring
her explanation longer, “I suppose I might as well tell you. Matthew and I have decided
to keep you—that is, if you will try to be a good little girl and show yourself grateful.
Why, child, whatever is the matter?”
“I'm crying,” said Anne in a tone of bewilderment. “I can't think why. I'm
glad as glad can be. Oh, glad doesn't seem the right word at all. I was glad about the
White Way and the cherry blossoms—but this! Oh, it's something more than glad. I'm
so happy. I'll try to be so good. It will be uphill work, I expect, for Mrs. Thomas
often told me I was desperately wicked. However, I'll do my very best. But can you tell me
why I'm crying?”
“I suppose it's because you're all excited and worked up,” said Marilla disapprovingly.
“Sit down on that chair and try to calm yourself. I'm afraid you both cry and laugh
far too easily. Yes, you can stay here and we will try to do right by you. You must go
to school; but it's only a fortnight till vacation so it isn't worth while for you
to start before it opens again in September.”
“What am I to call you?” asked Anne. “Shall I always say Miss Cuthbert? Can I call you
Aunt Marilla?”
“No; you'll call me just plain Marilla. I'm not used to being called Miss Cuthbert
and it would make me nervous.”
“It sounds awfully disrespectful to just say Marilla,” protested Anne.
“I guess there'll be nothing disrespectful in it if you're careful to speak respectfully.
Everybody, young and old, in Avonlea calls me Marilla except the minister. He says Miss
Cuthbert—when he thinks of it.”
“I'd love to call you Aunt Marilla,” said Anne wistfully. “I've never had an
aunt or any relation at all—not even a grandmother. It would make me feel as if I really belonged
to you. Can't I call you Aunt Marilla?”
“No. I'm not your aunt and I don't believe in calling people names that don't belong
to them.”
“But we could imagine you were my aunt.”
“I couldn't,” said Marilla grimly.
“Do you never imagine things different from what they really are?” asked Anne wide-eyed.
“No.”
“Oh!” Anne drew a long breath. “Oh, Miss—Marilla, how much you miss!”
“I don't believe in imagining things different from what they really are,” retorted Marilla.
“When the Lord puts us in certain circumstances He doesn't mean for us to imagine them away.
And that reminds me. Go into the sitting room, Anne—be sure your feet are clean and don't
let any flies in—and bring me out the illustrated card that's on the mantelpiece. The Lord's
Prayer is on it and you'll devote your spare time this afternoon to learning it off by
heart. There's to be no more of such praying as I heard last night.”
“I suppose I was very awkward,” said Anne apologetically, “but then, you see, I'd
never had any practice. You couldn't really expect a person to pray very well the first
time she tried, could you? I thought out a splendid prayer after I went to bed, just
as I promised you I would. It was nearly as long as a minister's and so poetical. But
would you believe it? I couldn't remember one word when I woke up this morning. And
I'm afraid I'll never be able to think out another one as good. Somehow, things never
are so good when they're thought out a second time. Have you ever noticed that?”
“Here is something for you to notice, Anne. When I tell you to do a thing I want you to
obey me at once and not stand stock-still and discourse about it. Just you go and do
as I bid you.”
Anne promptly departed for the sitting-room across the hall; she failed to return; after
waiting ten minutes Marilla laid down her knitting and marched after her with a grim
expression. She found Anne standing motionless before a picture hanging on the wall between
the two windows, with her eyes a-star with dreams. The white and green light strained
through apple trees and clustering vines outside fell over the rapt little figure with a half-unearthly
radiance.
“Anne, whatever are you thinking of?” demanded Marilla sharply.
Anne came back to earth with a start.
“That,” she said, pointing to the picture—a rather vivid chromo entitled, “Christ Blessing
Little Children”—“and I was just imagining I was one of them—that I was the little
girl in the blue dress, standing off by herself in the corner as if she didn't belong to
anybody, like me. She looks lonely and sad, don't you think? I guess she hadn't any
father or mother of her own. But she wanted to be blessed, too, so she just crept shyly
up on the outside of the crowd, hoping nobody would notice her—except Him. I'm sure
I know just how she felt. Her heart must have beat and her hands must have got cold, like
mine did when I asked you if I could stay. She was afraid He mightn't notice her. But
it's likely He did, don't you think? I've been trying to imagine it all out—her edging
a little nearer all the time until she was quite close to Him; and then He would look
at her and put His hand on her hair and oh, such a thrill of joy as would run over her!
But I wish the artist hadn't painted Him so sorrowful looking. All His pictures are
like that, if you've noticed. But I don't believe He could really have looked so sad
or the children would have been afraid of Him.”
“Anne,” said Marilla, wondering why she had not broken into this speech long before,
“you shouldn't talk that way. It's irreverent—positively irreverent.”
Anne's eyes marveled.
“Why, I felt just as reverent as could be. I'm sure I didn't mean to be irreverent.”
“Well I don't suppose you did—but it doesn't sound right to talk so familiarly
about such things. And another thing, Anne, when I send you after something you're to
bring it at once and not fall into mooning and imagining before pictures. Remember that.
Take that card and come right to the kitchen. Now, sit down in the corner and learn that
prayer off by heart.”
Anne set the card up against the jugful of apple blossoms she had brought in to decorate
the dinner-table—Marilla had eyed that decoration askance, but had said nothing—propped her
chin on her hands, and fell to studying it intently for several silent minutes.
“I like this,” she announced at length. “It's beautiful. I've heard it before—I
heard the superintendent of the asylum Sunday school say it over once. But I didn't like
it then. He had such a cracked voice and he prayed it so mournfully. I really felt sure
he thought praying was a disagreeable duty. This isn't poetry, but it makes me feel
just the same way poetry does. 'Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be Thy name.'
That is just like a line of music. Oh, I'm so glad you thought of making me learn this,
Miss—Marilla.”
“Well, learn it and hold your tongue,” said Marilla shortly.
Anne tipped the vase of apple blossoms near enough to bestow a soft kiss on a pink-cupped
bud, and then studied diligently for some moments longer.
“Marilla,” she demanded presently, “do you think that I shall ever have a bosom friend
in Avonlea?”
“A—a what kind of friend?”
“A bosom friend—an intimate friend, you know—a really kindred spirit to whom I can
confide my inmost soul. I've dreamed of meeting her all my life. I never really supposed
I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true all at once that perhaps this
one will, too. Do you think it's possible?”
“Diana Barry lives over at Orchard Slope and she's about your age. She's a very
nice little girl, and perhaps she will be a playmate for you when she comes home. She's
visiting her aunt over at Carmody just now. You'll have to be careful how you behave
yourself, though. Mrs. Barry is a very particular woman. She won't let Diana play with any
little girl who isn't nice and good.”
Anne looked at Marilla through the apple blossoms, her eyes aglow with interest.
“What is Diana like? Her hair isn't red, is it? Oh, I hope not. It's bad enough to
have red hair myself, but I positively couldn't endure it in a bosom friend.”
“Diana is a very pretty little girl. She has black eyes and hair and rosy cheeks. And
she is good and smart, which is better than being pretty.”
Marilla was as fond of morals as the Duchess in Wonderland, and was firmly convinced that
one should be tacked on to every remark made to a child who was being brought up.
But Anne waved the moral inconsequently aside and seized only on the delightful possibilities
before it.
“Oh, I'm so glad she's pretty. Next to being beautiful oneself—and that's
impossible in my case—it would be best to have a beautiful bosom friend. When I lived
with Mrs. Thomas she had a bookcase in her sitting room with glass doors. There weren't
any books in it; Mrs. Thomas kept her best china and her preserves there—when she had
any preserves to keep. One of the doors was broken. Mr. Thomas smashed it one night when
he was slightly intoxicated. But the other was whole and I used to pretend that my reflection
in it was another little girl who lived in it. I called her Katie Maurice, and we were
very intimate. I used to talk to her by the hour, especially on Sunday, and tell her everything.
Katie was the comfort and consolation of my life. We used to pretend that the bookcase
was enchanted and that if I only knew the spell I could open the door and step right
into the room where Katie Maurice lived, instead of into Mrs. Thomas' shelves of preserves
and china. And then Katie Maurice would have taken me by the hand and led me out into a
wonderful place, all flowers and sunshine and fairies, and we would have lived there
happy for ever after. When I went to live with Mrs. Hammond it just broke my heart to
leave Katie Maurice. She felt it dreadfully, too, I know she did, for she was crying when
she kissed me good-bye through the bookcase door. There was no bookcase at Mrs. Hammond's.
But just up the river a little way from the house there was a long green little valley,
and the loveliest echo lived there. It echoed back every word you said, even if you didn't
talk a bit loud. So I imagined that it was a little girl called Violetta and we were
great friends and I loved her almost as well as I loved Katie Maurice—not quite, but
almost, you know. The night before I went to the asylum I said good-bye to Violetta,
and oh, her good-bye came back to me in such sad, sad tones. I had become so attached to
her that I hadn't the heart to imagine a bosom friend at the asylum, even if there
had been any scope for imagination there.”
“I think it's just as well there wasn't,” said Marilla drily. “I don't approve of
such goings-on. You seem to half believe your own imaginations. It will be well for you
to have a real live friend to put such nonsense out of your head. But don't let Mrs. Barry
hear you talking about your Katie Maurices and your Violettas or she'll think you tell
stories.”
“Oh, I won't. I couldn't talk of them to everybody—their memories are too sacred
for that. But I thought I'd like to have you know about them. Oh, look, here's a
big bee just tumbled out of an apple blossom. Just think what a lovely place to live—in
an apple blossom! Fancy going to sleep in it when the wind was rocking it. If I wasn't
a human girl I think I'd like to be a bee and live among the flowers.”
“Yesterday you wanted to be a sea gull,” sniffed Marilla. “I think you are very fickle
minded. I told you to learn that prayer and not talk. But it seems impossible for you
to stop talking if you've got anybody that will listen to you. So go up to your room
and learn it.”
“Oh, I know it pretty nearly all now—all but just the last line.”
“Well, never mind, do as I tell you. Go to your room and finish learning it well,
and stay there until I call you down to help me get tea.”
“Can I take the apple blossoms with me for company?” pleaded Anne.
“No; you don't want your room cluttered up with flowers. You should have left them
on the tree in the first place.”
“I did feel a little that way, too,” said Anne. “I kind of felt I shouldn't shorten
their lovely lives by picking them—I wouldn't want to be picked if I were an apple blossom.
But the temptation was irresistible. What do you do when you meet with an irresistible
temptation?”
“Anne, did you hear me tell you to go to your room?”
Anne sighed, retreated to the east gable, and sat down in a chair by the window.
“There—I know this prayer. I learned that last sentence coming upstairs. Now I'm going
to imagine things into this room so that they'll always stay imagined. The floor is covered
with a white velvet carpet with pink roses all over it and there are pink silk curtains
at the windows. The walls are hung with gold and silver brocade tapestry. The furniture
is mahogany. I never saw any mahogany, but it does sound so luxurious. This is a couch
all heaped with gorgeous silken cushions, pink and blue and crimson and gold, and I
am reclining gracefully on it. I can see my reflection in that splendid big mirror hanging
on the wall. I am tall and regal, clad in a gown of trailing white lace, with a pearl
cross on my breast and pearls in my hair. My hair is of midnight darkness and my skin
is a clear ivory pallor. My name is the Lady Cordelia Fitzgerald. No, it isn't—I can't
make that seem real.”
She danced up to the little looking-glass and peered into it. Her pointed freckled face
and solemn gray eyes peered back at her.
“You're only Anne of Green Gables,” she said earnestly, “and I see you, just
as you are looking now, whenever I try to imagine I'm the Lady Cordelia. But it's
a million times nicer to be Anne of Green Gables than Anne of nowhere in particular,
isn't it?”
She bent forward, kissed her reflection affectionately, and betook herself to the open window.
“Dear Snow Queen, good afternoon. And good afternoon dear birches down in the hollow.
And good afternoon, dear gray house up on the hill. I wonder if Diana is to be my bosom
friend. I hope she will, and I shall love her very much. But I must never quite forget
Katie Maurice and Violetta. They would feel so hurt if I did and I'd hate to hurt anybody's
feelings, even a little bookcase girl's or a little echo girl's. I must be careful
to remember them and send them a kiss every day.”
Anne blew a couple of airy kisses from her fingertips past the cherry blossoms and then,
with her chin in her hands, drifted luxuriously out on a sea of daydreams.
CHAPTER IX. Mrs. Rachel Lynde Is Properly Horrified
ANNE had been a fortnight at Green Gables before Mrs. Lynde arrived to inspect her.
Mrs. Rachel, to do her justice, was not to blame for this. A severe and unseasonable
attack of grippe had confined that good lady to her house ever since the occasion of her
last visit to Green Gables. Mrs. Rachel was not often sick and had a well-defined contempt
for people who were; but grippe, she asserted, was like no other illness on earth and could
only be interpreted as one of the special visitations of Providence. As soon as her
doctor allowed her to put her foot out-of-doors she hurried up to Green Gables, bursting with
curiosity to see Matthew and Marilla's orphan, concerning whom all sorts of stories and suppositions
had gone abroad in Avonlea.
Anne had made good use of every waking moment of that fortnight. Already she was acquainted
with every tree and shrub about the place. She had discovered that a lane opened out
below the apple orchard and ran up through a belt of woodland; and she had explored it
to its furthest end in all its delicious vagaries of brook and bridge, fir coppice and wild
cherry arch, corners thick with fern, and branching byways of maple and mountain ash.
She had made friends with the spring down in the hollow—that wonderful deep, clear
icy-cold spring; it was set about with smooth red sandstones and rimmed in by great palm-like
clumps of water fern; and beyond it was a log bridge over the brook.
That bridge led Anne's dancing feet up over a wooded hill beyond, where perpetual twilight
reigned under the straight, thick-growing firs and spruces; the only flowers there were
myriads of delicate “June bells,” those shyest and sweetest of woodland blooms, and
a few pale, aerial starflowers, like the spirits of last year's blossoms. Gossamers glimmered
like threads of silver among the trees and the fir boughs and tassels seemed to utter
friendly speech.
All these raptured voyages of exploration were made in the odd half hours which she
was allowed for play, and Anne talked Matthew and Marilla half-deaf over her discoveries.
Not that Matthew complained, to be sure; he listened to it all with a wordless smile of
enjoyment on his face; Marilla permitted the “chatter” until she found herself becoming
too interested in it, whereupon she always promptly quenched Anne by a curt command to
hold her tongue.
Anne was out in the orchard when Mrs. Rachel came, wandering at her own sweet will through
the lush, tremulous grasses splashed with ruddy evening sunshine; so that good lady
had an excellent chance to talk her illness fully over, describing every ache and pulse
beat with such evident enjoyment that Marilla thought even grippe must bring its compensations.
When details were exhausted Mrs. Rachel introduced the real reason of her call.
“I've been hearing some surprising things about you and Matthew.”
“I don't suppose you are any more surprised than I am myself,” said Marilla. “I'm
getting over my surprise now.”
“It was too bad there was such a mistake,” said Mrs. Rachel sympathetically. “Couldn't
you have sent her back?”
“I suppose we could, but we decided not to. Matthew took a fancy to her. And I must
say I like her myself—although I admit she has her faults. The house seems a different
place already. She's a real bright little thing.”
Marilla said more than she had intended to say when she began, for she read disapproval
in Mrs. Rachel's expression.
“It's a great responsibility you've taken on yourself,” said that lady gloomily,
“especially when you've never had any experience with children. You don't know
much about her or her real disposition, I suppose, and there's no guessing how a child
like that will turn out. But I don't want to discourage you I'm sure, Marilla.”
“I'm not feeling discouraged,” was Marilla's dry response, “when I make up my mind to
do a thing it stays made up. I suppose you'd like to see Anne. I'll call her in.”
Anne came running in presently, her face sparkling with the delight of her orchard rovings; but,
abashed at finding the delight herself in the unexpected presence of a stranger, she
halted confusedly inside the door. She certainly was an odd-looking little creature in the
short tight wincey dress she had worn from the asylum, below which her thin legs seemed
ungracefully long. Her freckles were more numerous and obtrusive than ever; the wind
had ruffled her hatless hair into over-brilliant disorder; it had never looked redder than
at that moment.
“Well, they didn't pick you for your looks, that's sure and certain,” was Mrs. Rachel
Lynde's emphatic comment. Mrs. Rachel was one of those delightful and popular people
who pride themselves on speaking their mind without fear or favor. “She's terrible
skinny and homely, Marilla. Come here, child, and let me have a look at you. Lawful heart,
did any one ever see such freckles? And hair as red as carrots! Come here, child, I say.”
Anne “came there,” but not exactly as Mrs. Rachel expected. With one bound she crossed
the kitchen floor and stood before Mrs. Rachel, her face scarlet with anger, her lips quivering,
and her whole slender form trembling from head to foot.
“I hate you,” she cried in a choked voice, stamping her foot on the floor. “I hate
you—I hate you—I hate you—” a louder stamp with each assertion of hatred. “How
dare you call me skinny and ugly? How dare you say I'm freckled and redheaded? You
are a rude, impolite, unfeeling woman!”
“Anne!” exclaimed Marilla in consternation.
But Anne continued to face Mrs. Rachel undauntedly, head up, eyes blazing, hands clenched, passionate
indignation exhaling from her like an atmosphere.
“How dare you say such things about me?” she repeated vehemently. “How would you
like to have such things said about you? How would you like to be told that you are fat
and clumsy and probably hadn't a spark of imagination in you? I don't care if I do
hurt your feelings by saying so! I hope I hurt them. You have hurt mine worse than they
were ever hurt before even by Mrs. Thomas' intoxicated husband. And I'll never forgive
you for it, never, never!”
Stamp! Stamp!
“Did anybody ever see such a temper!” exclaimed the horrified Mrs. Rachel.
“Anne go to your room and stay there until I come up,” said Marilla, recovering her
powers of speech with difficulty.
Anne, bursting into tears, rushed to the hall door, slammed it until the tins on the porch
wall outside rattled in sympathy, and fled through the hall and up the stairs like a
whirlwind. A subdued slam above told that the door of the east gable had been shut with
equal vehemence.
“Well, I don't envy you your job bringing that up, Marilla,” said Mrs. Rachel with
unspeakable solemnity.
Marilla opened her lips to say she knew not what of apology or deprecation. What she did
say was a surprise to herself then and ever afterwards.
“You shouldn't have twitted her about her looks, Rachel.”
“Marilla Cuthbert, you don't mean to say that you are upholding her in such a terrible
display of temper as we've just seen?” demanded Mrs. Rachel indignantly.
“No,” said Marilla slowly, “I'm not trying to excuse her. She's been very naughty
and I'll have to give her a talking to about it. But we must make allowances for her. She's
never been taught what is right. And you were too hard on her, Rachel.”
Marilla could not help tacking on that last sentence, although she was again surprised
at herself for doing it. Mrs. Rachel got up with an air of offended dignity.
“Well, I see that I'll have to be very careful what I say after this, Marilla, since
the fine feelings of orphans, brought from goodness knows where, have to be considered
before anything else. Oh, no, I'm not vexed—don't worry yourself. I'm too sorry for you to
leave any room for anger in my mind. You'll have your own troubles with that child. But
if you'll take my advice—which I suppose you won't do, although I've brought up
ten children and buried two—you'll do that 'talking to' you mention with a fair-sized
birch switch. I should think that would be the most effective language for that kind
of a child. Her temper matches her hair I guess. Well, good evening, Marilla. I hope
you'll come down to see me often as usual. But you can't expect me to visit here again
in a hurry, if I'm liable to be flown at and insulted in such a fashion. It's something
new in my experience.”
Whereat Mrs. Rachel swept out and away—if a fat woman who always waddled could be said
to sweep away—and Marilla with a very solemn face betook herself to the east gable.
On the way upstairs she pondered uneasily as to what she ought to do. She felt no little
dismay over the scene that had just been enacted. How unfortunate that Anne should have displayed
such temper before Mrs. Rachel Lynde, of all people! Then Marilla suddenly became aware
of an uncomfortable and rebuking consciousness that she felt more humiliation over this than
sorrow over the discovery of such a serious defect in Anne's disposition. And how was
she to punish her? The amiable suggestion of the birch switch—to the efficiency of
which all of Mrs. Rachel's own children could have borne smarting testimony—did
not appeal to Marilla. She did not believe she could whip a child. No, some other method
of punishment must be found to bring Anne to a proper realization of the enormity of
her offense.
Marilla found Anne face downward on her bed, crying bitterly, quite oblivious of muddy
boots on a clean counterpane.
“Anne,” she said not ungently.
No answer.
“Anne,” with greater severity, “get off that bed this minute and listen to what
I have to say to you.”
Anne squirmed off the bed and sat rigidly on a chair beside it, her face swollen and
tear-stained and her eyes fixed stubbornly on the floor.
“This is a nice way for you to behave. Anne! Aren't you ashamed of yourself?”
“She hadn't any right to call me ugly and redheaded,” retorted Anne, evasive and
defiant.
“You hadn't any right to fly into such a fury and talk the way you did to her, Anne.
I was ashamed of you—thoroughly ashamed of you. I wanted you to behave nicely to Mrs.
Lynde, and instead of that you have disgraced me. I'm sure I don't know why you should
lose your temper like that just because Mrs. Lynde said you were red-haired and homely.
You say it yourself often enough.”
“Oh, but there's such a difference between saying a thing yourself and hearing other
people say it,” wailed Anne. “You may know a thing is so, but you can't help hoping
other people don't quite think it is. I suppose you think I have an awful temper,
but I couldn't help it. When she said those things something just rose right up in me
and choked me. I had to fly out at her.”
“Well, you made a fine exhibition of yourself I must say. Mrs. Lynde will have a nice story
to tell about you everywhere—and she'll tell it, too. It was a dreadful thing for
you to lose your temper like that, Anne.”
“Just imagine how you would feel if somebody told you to your face that you were skinny
and ugly,” pleaded Anne tearfully.
An old remembrance suddenly rose up before Marilla. She had been a very small child when
she had heard one aunt say of her to another, “What a pity she is such a dark, homely
little thing.” Marilla was every day of fifty before the sting had gone out of that
memory.
“I don't say that I think Mrs. Lynde was exactly right in saying what she did to you,
Anne,” she admitted in a softer tone. “Rachel is too outspoken. But that is no excuse for
such behavior on your part. She was a stranger and an elderly person and my visitor—all
three very good reasons why you should have been respectful to her. You were rude and
saucy and”—Marilla had a saving inspiration of punishment—“you must go to her and
tell her you are very sorry for your bad temper and ask her to forgive you.”
“I can never do that,” said Anne determinedly and darkly. “You can punish me in any way
you like, Marilla. You can shut me up in a dark, damp dungeon inhabited by snakes and
toads and feed me only on bread and water and I shall not complain. But I cannot ask
Mrs. Lynde to forgive me.”
“We're not in the habit of shutting people up in dark damp dungeons,” said Marilla
drily, “especially as they're rather scarce in Avonlea. But apologize to Mrs. Lynde you
must and shall and you'll stay here in your room until you can tell me you're willing
to do it.”
“I shall have to stay here forever then,” said Anne mournfully, “because I can't
tell Mrs. Lynde I'm sorry I said those things to her. How can I? I'm not sorry. I'm
sorry I've vexed you; but I'm glad I told her just what I did. It was a great satisfaction.
I can't say I'm sorry when I'm not, can I? I can't even imagine I'm sorry.”
“Perhaps your imagination will be in better working order by the morning,” said Marilla,
rising to depart. “You'll have the night to think over your conduct in and come to
a better frame of mind. You said you would try to be a very good girl if we kept you
at Green Gables, but I must say it hasn't seemed very much like it this evening.”
Leaving this Parthian shaft to rankle in Anne's stormy bosom, Marilla descended to the kitchen,
grievously troubled in mind and vexed in soul. She was as angry with herself as with Anne,
because, whenever she recalled Mrs. Rachel's dumbfounded countenance her lips twitched
with amusement and she felt a most reprehensible desire to laugh.
CHAPTER X. Anne's Apology MARILLA said nothing to Matthew about the
affair that evening; but when Anne proved still refractory the next morning an explanation
had to be made to account for her absence from the breakfast table. Marilla told Matthew
the whole story, taking pains to impress him with a due sense of the enormity of Anne's
behavior.
“It's a good thing Rachel Lynde got a calling down; she's a meddlesome old gossip,”
was Matthew's consolatory rejoinder.
“Matthew Cuthbert, I'm astonished at you. You know that Anne's behavior was dreadful,
and yet you take her part! I suppose you'll be saying next thing that she oughtn't to
be punished at all!”
“Well now—no—not exactly,” said Matthew uneasily. “I reckon she ought to be punished
a little. But don't be too hard on her, Marilla. Recollect she hasn't ever had anyone
to teach her right. You're—you're going to give her something to eat, aren't you?”
“When did you ever hear of me starving people into good behavior?” demanded Marilla indignantly.
“She'll have her meals regular, and I'll carry them up to her myself. But she'll
stay up there until she's willing to apologize to Mrs. Lynde, and that's final, Matthew.”
Breakfast, dinner, and supper were very silent meals—for Anne still remained obdurate.
After each meal Marilla carried a well-filled tray to the east gable and brought it down
later on not noticeably depleted. Matthew eyed its last descent with a troubled eye.
Had Anne eaten anything at all?
When Marilla went out that evening to bring the cows from the back pasture, Matthew, who
had been hanging about the barns and watching, slipped into the house with the air of a burglar
and crept upstairs. As a general thing Matthew gravitated between the kitchen and the little
bedroom off the hall where he slept; once in a while he ventured uncomfortably into
the parlor or sitting room when the minister came to tea. But he had never been upstairs
in his own house since the spring he helped Marilla paper the spare bedroom, and that
was four years ago.
He tiptoed along the hall and stood for several minutes outside the door of the east gable
before he summoned courage to tap on it with his fingers and then open the door to peep
in.
Anne was sitting on the yellow chair by the window gazing mournfully out into the garden.
Very small and unhappy she looked, and Matthew's heart smote him. He softly closed the door
and tiptoed over to her.
“Anne,” he whispered, as if afraid of being overheard, “how are you making it,
Anne?”
Anne smiled wanly.
“Pretty well. I imagine a good deal, and that helps to pass the time. Of course, it's
rather lonesome. But then, I may as well get used to that.”
Anne smiled again, bravely facing the long years of solitary imprisonment before her.
Matthew recollected that he must say what he had come to say without loss of time, lest
Marilla return prematurely. “Well now, Anne, don't you think you'd better do it and
have it over with?” he whispered. “It'll have to be done sooner or later, you know,
for Marilla's a dreadful deter-mined woman—dreadful determined, Anne. Do it right off, I say,
and have it over.”
“Do you mean apologize to Mrs. Lynde?”
“Yes—apologize—that's the very word,” said Matthew eagerly. “Just smooth it over
so to speak. That's what I was trying to get at.”
“I suppose I could do it to oblige you,” said Anne thoughtfully. “It would be true
enough to say I am sorry, because I am sorry now. I wasn't a bit sorry last night. I
was mad clear through, and I stayed mad all night. I know I did because I woke up three
times and I was just furious every time. But this morning it was over. I wasn't in a
temper anymore—and it left a dreadful sort of goneness, too. I felt so ashamed of myself.
But I just couldn't think of going and telling Mrs. Lynde so. It would be so humiliating.
I made up my mind I'd stay shut up here forever rather than do that. But still—I'd
do anything for you—if you really want me to—”
“Well now, of course I do. It's terrible lonesome downstairs without you. Just go and
smooth things over—that's a good girl.”
“Very well,” said Anne resignedly. “I'll tell Marilla as soon as she comes in I've
repented.”
“That's right—that's right, Anne. But don't tell Marilla I said anything about
it. She might think I was putting my oar in and I promised not to do that.”
“Wild horses won't drag the secret from me,” promised Anne solemnly. “How would
wild horses drag a secret from a person anyhow?”
But Matthew was gone, scared at his own success. He fled hastily to the remotest corner of
the horse pasture lest Marilla should suspect what he had been up to. Marilla herself, upon
her return to the house, was agreeably surprised to hear a plaintive voice calling, “Marilla”
over the banisters.
“Well?” she said, going into the hall.
“I'm sorry I lost my temper and said rude things, and I'm willing to go and tell Mrs.
Lynde so.”
“Very well.” Marilla's crispness gave no sign of her relief. She had been wondering
what under the canopy she should do if Anne did not give in. “I'll take you down after
milking.”
Accordingly, after milking, behold Marilla and Anne walking down the lane, the former
erect and triumphant, the latter drooping and dejected. But halfway down Anne's dejection
vanished as if by enchantment. She lifted her head and stepped lightly along, her eyes
fixed on the sunset sky and an air of subdued exhilaration about her. Marilla beheld the
change disapprovingly. This was no meek penitent such as it behooved her to take into the presence
of the offended Mrs. Lynde.
“What are you thinking of, Anne?” she asked sharply.
“I'm imagining out what I must say to Mrs. Lynde,” answered Anne dreamily.
This was satisfactory—or should have been so. But Marilla could not rid herself of the
notion that something in her scheme of punishment was going askew. Anne had no business to look
so rapt and radiant.
Rapt and radiant Anne continued until they were in the very presence of Mrs. Lynde, who
was sitting knitting by her kitchen window. Then the radiance vanished. Mournful penitence
appeared on every feature. Before a word was spoken Anne suddenly went down on her knees
before the astonished Mrs. Rachel and held out her hands beseechingly.
“Oh, Mrs. Lynde, I am so extremely sorry,” she said with a quiver in her voice. “I
could never express all my sorrow, no, not if I used up a whole dictionary. You must
just imagine it. I behaved terribly to you—and I've disgraced the dear friends, Matthew
and Marilla, who have let me stay at Green Gables although I'm not a boy. I'm a dreadfully
wicked and ungrateful girl, and I deserve to be punished and cast out by respectable
people forever. It was very wicked of me to fly into a temper because you told me the
truth. It was the truth; every word you said was true. My hair is red and I'm freckled
and skinny and ugly. What I said to you was true, too, but I shouldn't have said it.
Oh, Mrs. Lynde, please, please, forgive me. If you refuse it will be a lifelong sorrow
on a poor little orphan girl, would you, even if she had a dreadful temper? Oh, I am sure
you wouldn't. Please say you forgive me, Mrs. Lynde.”
Anne clasped her hands together, bowed her head, and waited for the word of judgment.
There was no mistaking her sincerity—it breathed in every tone of her voice. Both
Marilla and Mrs. Lynde recognized its unmistakable ring. But the former under-stood in dismay
that Anne was actually enjoying her valley of humiliation—was reveling in the thoroughness
of her abasement. Where was the wholesome punishment upon which she, Marilla, had plumed
herself? Anne had turned it into a species of positive pleasure.
Good Mrs. Lynde, not being overburdened with perception, did not see this. She only perceived
that Anne had made a very thorough apology and all resentment vanished from her kindly,
if somewhat officious, heart.
“There, there, get up, child,” she said heartily. “Of course I forgive you. I guess
I was a little too hard on you, anyway. But I'm such an outspoken person. You just mustn't
mind me, that's what. It can't be denied your hair is terrible red; but I knew a girl
once—went to school with her, in fact—whose hair was every mite as red as yours when she
was young, but when she grew up it darkened to a real handsome auburn. I wouldn't be
a mite surprised if yours did, too—not a mite.”
“Oh, Mrs. Lynde!” Anne drew a long breath as she rose to her feet. “You have given
me a hope. I shall always feel that you are a benefactor. Oh, I could endure anything
if I only thought my hair would be a handsome auburn when I grew up. It would be so much
easier to be good if one's hair was a handsome auburn, don't you think? And now may I go
out into your garden and sit on that bench under the apple-trees while you and Marilla
are talking? There is so much more scope for imagination out there.”
“Laws, yes, run along, child. And you can pick a bouquet of them white June lilies over
in the corner if you like.”
As the door closed behind Anne Mrs. Lynde got briskly up to light a lamp.
“She's a real odd little thing. Take this chair, Marilla; it's easier than the one
you've got; I just keep that for the hired boy to sit on. Yes, she certainly is an odd
child, but there is something kind of taking about her after all. I don't feel so surprised
at you and Matthew keeping her as I did—nor so sorry for you, either. She may turn out
all right. Of course, she has a queer way of expressing herself—a little too—well,
too kind of forcible, you know; but she'll likely get over that now that she's come
to live among civilized folks. And then, her temper's pretty quick, I guess; but there's
one comfort, a child that has a quick temper, just blaze up and cool down, ain't never
likely to be sly or deceitful. Preserve me from a sly child, that's what. On the whole,
Marilla, I kind of like her.”
When Marilla went home Anne came out of the fragrant twilight of the orchard with a sheaf
of white narcissi in her hands.
“I apologized pretty well, didn't I?” she said proudly as they went down the lane.
“I thought since I had to do it I might as well do it thoroughly.”
“You did it thoroughly, all right enough,” was Marilla's comment. Marilla was dismayed
at finding herself inclined to laugh over the recollection. She had also an uneasy feeling
that she ought to scold Anne for apologizing so well; but then, that was ridiculous! She
compromised with her conscience by saying severely:
“I hope you won't have occasion to make many more such apologies. I hope you'll
try to control your temper now, Anne.”
“That wouldn't be so hard if people wouldn't twit me about my looks,” said Anne with
a sigh. “I don't get cross about other things; but I'm so tired of being twitted
about my hair and it just makes me boil right over. Do you suppose my hair will really be
a handsome auburn when I grow up?”
“You shouldn't think so much about your looks, Anne. I'm afraid you are a very vain
little girl.”
“How can I be vain when I know I'm homely?” protested Anne. “I love pretty things; and
I hate to look in the glass and see something that isn't pretty. It makes me feel so sorrowful—just
as I feel when I look at any ugly thing. I pity it because it isn't beautiful.”
“Handsome is as handsome does,” quoted Marilla. “I've had that said to me before,
but I have my doubts about it,” remarked skeptical Anne, sniffing at her narcissi.
“Oh, aren't these flowers sweet! It was lovely of Mrs. Lynde to give them to me. I
have no hard feelings against Mrs. Lynde now. It gives you a lovely, comfortable feeling
to apologize and be forgiven, doesn't it? Aren't the stars bright tonight? If you
could live in a star, which one would you pick? I'd like that lovely clear big one
away over there above that dark hill.”
“Anne, do hold your tongue,” said Marilla, thoroughly worn out trying to follow the gyrations
of Anne's thoughts.
Anne said no more until they turned into their own lane. A little gypsy wind came down it
to meet them, laden with the spicy perfume of young dew-wet ferns. Far up in the shadows
a cheerful light gleamed out through the trees from the kitchen at Green Gables. Anne suddenly
came close to Marilla and slipped her hand into the older woman's hard palm.
“It's lovely to be going home and know it's home,” she said. “I love Green
Gables already, and I never loved any place before. No place ever seemed like home. Oh,
Marilla, I'm so happy. I could pray right now and not find it a bit hard.”
Something warm and pleasant welled up in Marilla's heart at touch of that thin little hand in
her own—a throb of the maternity she had missed, perhaps. Its very unaccustomedness
and sweetness disturbed her. She hastened to restore her sensations to their normal
calm by inculcating a moral.
“If you'll be a good girl you'll always be happy, Anne. And you should never find
it hard to say your prayers.”
“Saying one's prayers isn't exactly the same thing as praying,” said Anne meditatively.
“But I'm going to imagine that I'm the wind that is blowing up there in those tree
tops. When I get tired of the trees I'll imagine I'm gently waving down here in the
ferns—and then I'll fly over to Mrs. Lynde's garden and set the flowers dancing—and then
I'll go with one great swoop over the clover field—and then I'll blow over the Lake
of Shining Waters and ripple it all up into little sparkling waves. Oh, there's so much
scope for imagination in a wind! So I'll not talk any more just now, Marilla.”
“Thanks be to goodness for that,” breathed Marilla in devout relief.
CHAPTER XI. Anne's Impressions of Sunday-School WELL, how do you like them?” said Marilla.
Anne was standing in the gable room, looking solemnly at three new dresses spread out on
the bed. One was of snuffy colored gingham which Marilla had been tempted to buy from
a peddler the preceding summer because it looked so serviceable; one was of black-and-white
checkered sateen which she had picked up at a bargain counter in the winter; and one was
a stiff print of an ugly blue shade which she had purchased that week at a Carmody store.
She had made them up herself, and they were all made alike—plain skirts fulled tightly
to plain waists, with sleeves as plain as waist and skirt and tight as sleeves could
be.
“I'll imagine that I like them,” said Anne soberly.
“I don't want you to imagine it,” said Marilla, offended. “Oh, I can see you don't
like the dresses! What is the matter with them? Aren't they neat and clean and new?”
“Yes.”
“Then why don't you like them?”
“They're—they're not—pretty,” said Anne reluctantly.
“Pretty!” Marilla sniffed. “I didn't trouble my head about getting pretty dresses
for you. I don't believe in pampering vanity, Anne, I'll tell you that right off. Those
dresses are good, sensible, serviceable dresses, without any frills or furbelows about them,
and they're all you'll get this summer. The brown gingham and the blue print will
do you for school when you begin to go. The sateen is for church and Sunday school. I'll
expect you to keep them neat and clean and not to tear them. I should think you'd be
grateful to get most anything after those skimpy wincey things you've been wearing.”
“Oh, I am grateful,” protested Anne. “But I'd be ever so much gratefuller if—if
you'd made just one of them with puffed sleeves. Puffed sleeves are so fashionable
now. It would give me such a thrill, Marilla, just to wear a dress with puffed sleeves.”
“Well, you'll have to do without your thrill. I hadn't any material to waste on
puffed sleeves. I think they are ridiculous-looking things anyhow. I prefer the plain, sensible
ones.”
“But I'd rather look ridiculous when everybody else does than plain and sensible all by myself,”
persisted Anne mournfully.
“Trust you for that! Well, hang those dresses carefully up in your closet, and then sit
down and learn the Sunday school lesson. I got a quarterly from Mr. Bell for you and
you'll go to Sunday school tomorrow,” said Marilla, disappearing downstairs in high
dudgeon.
Anne clasped her hands and looked at the dresses.
“I did hope there would be a white one with puffed sleeves,” she whispered disconsolately.
“I prayed for one, but I didn't much expect it on that account. I didn't suppose God
would have time to bother about a little orphan girl's dress. I knew I'd just have to
depend on Marilla for it. Well, fortunately I can imagine that one of them is of snow-white
muslin with lovely lace frills and three-puffed sleeves.”
The next morning warnings of a sick headache prevented Marilla from going to Sunday-school
with Anne.
“You'll have to go down and call for Mrs. Lynde, Anne,” she said. “She'll see
that you get into the right class. Now, mind you behave yourself properly. Stay to preaching
afterwards and ask Mrs. Lynde to show you our pew. Here's a cent for collection. Don't
stare at people and don't fidget. I shall expect you to tell me the text when you come
home.”
Anne started off irreproachable, arrayed in the stiff black-and-white sateen, which, while
decent as regards length and certainly not open to the charge of skimpiness, contrived
to emphasize every corner and angle of her thin figure. Her hat was a little, flat, glossy,
new sailor, the extreme plainness of which had likewise much disappointed Anne, who had
permitted herself secret visions of ribbon and flowers. The latter, however, were supplied
before Anne reached the main road, for being confronted halfway down the lane with a golden
frenzy of wind-stirred buttercups and a glory of wild roses, Anne promptly and liberally
garlanded her hat with a heavy wreath of them. Whatever other people might have thought of
the result it satisfied Anne, and she tripped gaily down the road, holding her ruddy head
with its decoration of pink and yellow very proudly.
When she had reached Mrs. Lynde's house she found that lady gone. Nothing daunted,
Anne proceeded onward to the church alone. In the porch she found a crowd of little girls,
all more or less gaily attired in whites and blues and pinks, and all staring with curious
eyes at this stranger in their midst, with her extraordinary head adornment. Avonlea
little girls had already heard queer stories about Anne. Mrs. Lynde said she had an awful
temper; Jerry Buote, the hired boy at Green Gables, said she talked all the time to herself
or to the trees and flowers like a crazy girl. They looked at her and whispered to each other
behind their quarterlies. Nobody made any friendly advances, then or later on when the
opening exercises were over and Anne found herself in Miss Rogerson's class.
Miss Rogerson was a middle-aged lady who had taught a Sunday-school class for twenty years.
Her method of teaching was to ask the printed questions from the quarterly and look sternly
over its edge at the particular little girl she thought ought to answer the question.
She looked very often at Anne, and Anne, thanks to Marilla's drilling, answered promptly;
but it may be questioned if she understood very much about either question or answer.
She did not think she liked Miss Rogerson, and she felt very miserable; every other little
girl in the class had puffed sleeves. Anne felt that life was really not worth living
without puffed sleeves.
“Well, how did you like Sunday school?” Marilla wanted to know when Anne came home.
Her wreath having faded, Anne had discarded it in the lane, so Marilla was spared the
knowledge of that for a time.
“I didn't like it a bit. It was horrid.”
“Anne Shirley!” said Marilla rebukingly.
Anne sat down on the rocker with a long sigh, kissed one of Bonny's leaves, and waved
her hand to a blossoming fuchsia.
“They might have been lonesome while I was away,” she explained. “And now about the
Sunday school. I behaved well, just as you told me. Mrs. Lynde was gone, but I went right
on myself. I went into the church, with a lot of other little girls, and I sat in the
corner of a pew by the window while the opening exercises went on. Mr. Bell made an awfully
long prayer. I would have been dreadfully tired before he got through if I hadn't
been sitting by that window. But it looked right out on the Lake of Shining Waters, so
I just gazed at that and imagined all sorts of splendid things.”
“You shouldn't have done anything of the sort. You should have listened to Mr. Bell.”
“But he wasn't talking to me,” protested Anne. “He was talking to God and he didn't
seem to be very much inter-ested in it, either. I think he thought God was too far off though.
There was a long row of white birches hanging over the lake and the sunshine fell down through
them, 'way, 'way down, deep into the water. Oh, Marilla, it was like a beautiful dream!
It gave me a thrill and I just said, 'Thank you for it, God,' two or three times.”
“Not out loud, I hope,” said Marilla anxiously.
“Oh, no, just under my breath. Well, Mr. Bell did get through at last and they told
me to go into the classroom with Miss Rogerson's class. There were nine other girls in it.
They all had puffed sleeves. I tried to imagine mine were puffed, too, but I couldn't. Why
couldn't I? It was as easy as could be to imagine they were puffed when I was alone
in the east gable, but it was awfully hard there among the others who had really truly
puffs.”
“You shouldn't have been thinking about your sleeves in Sunday school. You should
have been attending to the lesson. I hope you knew it.”
“Oh, yes; and I answered a lot of questions. Miss Rogerson asked ever so many. I don't
think it was fair for her to do all the asking. There were lots I wanted to ask her, but I
didn't like to because I didn't think she was a kindred spirit. Then all the other
little girls recited a paraphrase. She asked me if I knew any. I told her I didn't, but
I could recite, 'The Dog at His Master's Grave' if she liked. That's in the Third
Royal Reader. It isn't a really truly religious piece of poetry, but it's so sad and melancholy
that it might as well be. She said it wouldn't do and she told me to learn the nineteenth
paraphrase for next Sunday. I read it over in church afterwards and it's splendid.
There are two lines in particular that just thrill me.
“'Quick as the slaughtered squadrons fell In Midian's evil day.'
“I don't know what 'squadrons' means nor 'Midian,' either, but it sounds so
tragical. I can hardly wait until next Sunday to recite it. I'll practice it all the week.
After Sunday school I asked Miss Rogerson—because Mrs. Lynde was too far away—to show me your
pew. I sat just as still as I could and the text was Revelations, third chapter, second
and third verses. It was a very long text. If I was a minister I'd pick the short,
snappy ones. The sermon was awfully long, too. I suppose the minister had to match it
to the text. I didn't think he was a bit interesting. The trouble with him seems to
be that he hasn't enough imagination. I didn't listen to him very much. I just let
my thoughts run and I thought of the most surprising things.”
Marilla felt helplessly that all this should be sternly reproved, but she was hampered
by the undeniable fact that some of the things Anne had said, especially about the minister's
sermons and Mr. Bell's prayers, were what she herself had really thought deep down in
her heart for years, but had never given expression to. It almost seemed to her that those secret,
unuttered, critical thoughts had suddenly taken visible and accusing shape and form
in the person of this outspoken morsel of neglected humanity.
CHAPTER XII. A
Solemn Vow and Promise IT was not until the next Friday that Marilla
heard the story of the flower-wreathed hat. She came home from Mrs. Lynde's and called
Anne to account.
“Anne, Mrs. Rachel says you went to church last Sunday with your hat rigged out ridiculous
with roses and buttercups. What on earth put you up to such a caper? A pretty-looking object
you must have been!”
“Oh. I know pink and yellow aren't becoming to me,” began Anne.
“Becoming fiddlesticks! It was putting flowers on your hat at all, no matter what color they
were, that was ridiculous. You are the most aggravating child!”
“I don't see why it's any more ridiculous to wear flowers on your hat than on your dress,”
protested Anne. “Lots of little girls there had bouquets pinned on their dresses. What's
the difference?”
Marilla was not to be drawn from the safe concrete into dubious paths of the abstract.
“Don't answer me back like that, Anne. It was very silly of you to do such a thing.
Never let me catch you at such a trick again. Mrs. Rachel says she thought she would sink
through the floor when she saw you come in all rigged out like that. She couldn't get
near enough to tell you to take them off till it was too late. She says people talked about
it something dreadful. Of course they would think I had no better sense than to let you
go decked out like that.”
“Oh, I'm so sorry,” said Anne, tears welling into her eyes. “I never thought
you'd mind. The roses and buttercups were so sweet and pretty I thought they'd look
lovely on my hat. Lots of the little girls had artificial flowers on their hats. I'm
afraid I'm going to be a dreadful trial to you. Maybe you'd better send me back
to the asylum. That would be terrible; I don't think I could endure it; most likely I would
go into consumption; I'm so thin as it is, you see. But that would be better than being
a trial to you.”
“Nonsense,” said Marilla, vexed at herself for having made the child cry. “I don't
want to send you back to the asylum, I'm sure. All I want is that you should behave
like other little girls and not make yourself ridiculous. Don't cry any more. I've got
some news for you. Diana Barry came home this afternoon. I'm going up to see if I can
borrow a skirt pattern from Mrs. Barry, and if you like you can come with me and get acquainted
with Diana.”
Anne rose to her feet, with clasped hands, the tears still glistening on her cheeks;
the dish towel she had been hemming slipped unheeded to the floor.
“Oh, Marilla, I'm frightened—now that it has come I'm actually frightened. What
if she shouldn't like me! It would be the most tragical disappointment of my life.”
“Now, don't get into a fluster. And I do wish you wouldn't use such long words.
It sounds so funny in a little girl. I guess Diana 'll like you well enough. It's her
mother you've got to reckon with. If she doesn't like you it won't matter how much
Diana does. If she has heard about your outburst to Mrs. Lynde and going to church with buttercups
round your hat I don't know what she'll think of you. You must be polite and well
behaved, and don't make any of your startling speeches. For pity's sake, if the child
isn't actually trembling!”
Anne was trembling. Her face was pale and tense.
“Oh, Marilla, you'd be excited, too, if you were going to meet a little girl you hoped
to be your bosom friend and whose mother mightn't like you,” she said as she hastened to get
her hat.
They went over to Orchard Slope by the short cut across the brook and up the firry hill
grove. Mrs. Barry came to the kitchen door in answer to Marilla's knock. She was a
tall black-eyed, black-haired woman, with a very resolute mouth. She had the reputation
of being very strict with her children.
“How do you do, Marilla?” she said cordially. “Come in. And this is the little girl you
have adopted, I suppose?”
“Yes, this is Anne Shirley,” said Marilla.
“Spelled with an E,” gasped Anne, who, tremulous and excited as she was, was determined
there should be no misunderstanding on that important point.
Mrs. Barry, not hearing or not comprehending, merely shook hands and said kindly:
“How are you?”
“I am well in body although considerable rumpled up in spirit, thank you ma'am,”
said Anne gravely. Then aside to Marilla in an audible whisper, “There wasn't anything
startling in that, was there, Marilla?”
Diana was sitting on the sofa, reading a book which she dropped when the callers entered.
She was a very pretty little girl, with her mother's black eyes and hair, and rosy cheeks,
and the merry expression which was her inheritance from her father.
“This is my little girl Diana,” said Mrs. Barry. “Diana, you might take Anne out into
the garden and show her your flowers. It will be better for you than straining your eyes
over that book. She reads entirely too much—” this to Marilla as the little girls went out—“and
I can't prevent her, for her father aids and abets her. She's always poring over
a book. I'm glad she has the prospect of a playmate—perhaps it will take her more
out-of-doors.”
Outside in the garden, which was full of mellow sunset light streaming through the dark old
firs to the west of it, stood Anne and Diana, gazing bashfully at each other over a clump
of gorgeous tiger lilies.
The Barry garden was a bowery wilderness of flowers which would have delighted Anne's
heart at any time less fraught with destiny. It was encircled by huge old willows and tall
firs, beneath which flourished flowers that loved the shade. Prim, right-angled paths
neatly bordered with clamshells, intersected it like moist red ribbons and in the beds
between old-fashioned flowers ran riot. There were rosy bleeding-hearts and great splendid
crimson peonies; white, fragrant narcissi and thorny, sweet Scotch roses; pink and blue
and white columbines and lilac-tinted Bouncing Bets; clumps of southernwood and ribbon grass
and mint; purple Adam-and-Eve, daffodils, and masses of sweet clover white with its
delicate, fragrant, feathery sprays; scarlet lightning that shot its fiery lances over
prim white musk-flowers; a garden it was where sunshine lingered and bees hummed, and winds,
beguiled into loitering, purred and rustled.
“Oh, Diana,” said Anne at last, clasping her hands and speaking almost in a whisper,
“oh, do you think you can like me a little—enough to be my bosom friend?”
Diana laughed. Diana always laughed before she spoke.
“Why, I guess so,” she said frankly. “I'm awfully glad you've come to live at Green
Gables. It will be jolly to have somebody to play with. There isn't any other girl
who lives near enough to play with, and I've no sisters big enough.”
“Will you swear to be my friend forever and ever?” demanded Anne eagerly.
Diana looked shocked.
“Why it's dreadfully wicked to swear,” she said rebukingly.
“Oh no, not my kind of swearing. There are two kinds, you know.”
“I never heard of but one kind,” said Diana doubtfully.
“There really is another. Oh, it isn't wicked at all. It just means vowing and promising
solemnly.”
“Well, I don't mind doing that,” agreed Diana, relieved. “How do you do it?”
“We must join hands—so,” said Anne gravely. “It ought to be over running water. We'll
just imagine this path is running water. I'll repeat the oath first. I solemnly swear to
be faithful to my bosom friend, Diana Barry, as long as the sun and moon shall endure.
Now you say it and put my name in.”
Diana repeated the “oath” with a laugh fore and aft. Then she said:
“You're a queer girl, Anne. I heard before that you were queer. But I believe I'm going
to like you real well.”
When Marilla and Anne went home Diana went with them as far as the log bridge. The two
little girls walked with their arms about each other. At the brook they parted with
many promises to spend the next afternoon together.
“Well, did you find Diana a kindred spirit?” asked Marilla as they went up through the
garden of Green Gables.
“Oh yes,” sighed Anne, blissfully unconscious of any sarcasm on Marilla's part. “Oh
Marilla, I'm the happiest girl on Prince Edward Island this very moment. I assure you
I'll say my prayers with a right good-will tonight. Diana and I are going to build a
playhouse in Mr. William Bell's birch grove tomorrow. Can I have those broken pieces of
china that are out in the woodshed? Diana's birthday is in February and mine is in March.
Don't you think that is a very strange coincidence? Diana is going to lend me a book to read.
She says it's perfectly splendid and tremendously exciting. She's going to show me a place
back in the woods where rice lilies grow. Don't you think Diana has got very soulful
eyes? I wish I had soulful eyes. Diana is going to teach me to sing a song called 'Nelly
in the Hazel Dell.' She's going to give me a picture to put up in my room; it's
a perfectly beautiful picture, she says—a lovely lady in a pale blue silk dress. A sewing-machine
agent gave it to her. I wish I had something to give Diana. I'm an inch taller than Diana,
but she is ever so much fatter; she says she'd like to be thin because it's so much more
graceful, but I'm afraid she only said it to soothe my feelings. We're going to the
shore some day to gather shells. We have agreed to call the spring down by the log bridge
the Dryad's Bubble. Isn't that a perfectly elegant name? I read a story once about a
spring called that. A dryad is sort of a grown-up fairy, I think.”
“Well, all I hope is you won't talk Diana to death,” said Marilla. “But remember
this in all your planning, Anne. You're not going to play all the time nor most of
it. You'll have your work to do and it'll have to be done first.”
Anne's cup of happiness was full, and Matthew caused it to overflow. He had just got home
from a trip to the store at Carmody, and he sheepishly produced a small parcel from his
pocket and handed it to Anne, with a deprecatory look at Marilla.
“I heard you say you liked chocolate sweeties, so I got you some,” he said.
“Humph,” sniffed Marilla. “It'll ruin her teeth and stomach. There, there, child,
don't look so dismal. You can eat those, since Matthew has gone and got them. He'd
better have brought you peppermints. They're wholesomer. Don't sicken yourself eating
all them at once now.”
“Oh, no, indeed, I won't,” said Anne eagerly. “I'll just eat one tonight, Marilla.
And I can give Diana half of them, can't I? The other half will taste twice as sweet
to me if I give some to her. It's delightful to think I have something to give her.”
“I will say it for the child,” said Marilla when Anne had gone to her gable, “she isn't
stingy. I'm glad, for of all faults I detest stinginess in a child. Dear me, it's only
three weeks since she came, and it seems as if she'd been here always. I can't imagine
the place without her. Now, don't be looking I told-you-so, Matthew. That's bad enough
in a woman, but it isn't to be endured in a man. I'm perfectly willing to own up that
I'm glad I consented to keep the child and that I'm getting fond of her, but don't
you rub it in, Matthew Cuthbert.”
CHAPTER XIII. The Delights of Anticipation IT'S time Anne was in to do her sewing,”
said Marilla, glancing at the clock and then out into the yellow August afternoon where
everything drowsed in the heat. “She stayed playing with Diana more than half an hour
more 'n I gave her leave to; and now she's perched out there on the woodpile talking
to Matthew, nineteen to the dozen, when she knows perfectly well she ought to be at her
work. And of course he's listening to her like a perfect ninny. I never saw such an
infatuated man. The more she talks and the odder the things she says, the more he's
delighted evidently. Anne Shirley, you come right in here this minute, do you hear me!”
A series of staccato taps on the west window brought Anne flying in from the yard, eyes
shining, cheeks faintly flushed with pink, unbraided hair streaming behind her in a torrent
of brightness.
“Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed breathlessly, “there's going to be a Sunday-school picnic
next week—in Mr. Harmon Andrews's field, right near the lake of Shining Waters. And
Mrs. Superintendent Bell and Mrs. Rachel Lynde are going to make ice cream—think of it,
Marilla—ice cream! And, oh, Marilla, can I go to it?”
“Just look at the clock, if you please, Anne. What time did I tell you to come in?”
“Two o'clock—but isn't it splendid about the picnic, Marilla? Please can I go?
Oh, I've never been to a picnic—I've dreamed of picnics, but I've never—”
“Yes, I told you to come at two o'clock. And it's a quarter to three. I'd like
to know why you didn't obey me, Anne.”
“Why, I meant to, Marilla, as much as could be. But you have no idea how fascinating Idlewild
is. And then, of course, I had to tell Matthew about the picnic. Matthew is such a sympathetic
listener. Please can I go?”
“You'll have to learn to resist the fascination of Idle-whatever-you-call-it. When I tell
you to come in at a certain time I mean that time and not half an hour later. And you needn't
stop to discourse with sympathetic listeners on your way, either. As for the picnic, of
course you can go. You're a Sunday-school scholar, and it's not likely I'd refuse
to let you go when all the other little girls are going.”
“But—but,” faltered Anne, “Diana says that everybody must take a basket of things
to eat. I can't cook, as you know, Marilla, and—and—I don't mind going to a picnic
without puffed sleeves so much, but I'd feel terribly humiliated if I had to go without
a basket. It's been preying on my mind ever since Diana told me.”
“Well, it needn't prey any longer. I'll bake you a basket.”
“Oh, you dear good Marilla. Oh, you are so kind to me. Oh, I'm so much obliged to
you.”
Getting through with her “ohs” Anne cast herself into Marilla's arms and rapturously
kissed her sallow cheek. It was the first time in her whole life that childish lips
had voluntarily touched Marilla's face. Again that sudden sensation of startling sweetness
thrilled her. She was secretly vastly pleased at Anne's impulsive caress, which was probably
the reason why she said brusquely:
“There, there, never mind your kissing nonsense. I'd sooner see you doing strictly as you're
told. As for cooking, I mean to begin giving you lessons in that some of these days. But
you're so featherbrained, Anne, I've been waiting to see if you'd sober down a little
and learn to be steady before I begin. You've got to keep your wits about you in cooking
and not stop in the middle of things to let your thoughts rove all over creation. Now,
get out your patchwork and have your square done before teatime.”
“I do not like patchwork,” said Anne dolefully, hunting out her workbasket and sitting down
before a little heap of red and white diamonds with a sigh. “I think some kinds of sewing
would be nice; but there's no scope for imagination in patchwork. It's just one
little seam after another and you never seem to be getting anywhere. But of course I'd
rather be Anne of Green Gables sewing patchwork than Anne of any other place with nothing
to do but play. I wish time went as quick sewing patches as it does when I'm playing
with Diana, though. Oh, we do have such elegant times, Marilla. I have to furnish most of
the imagination, but I'm well able to do that. Diana is simply perfect in every other
way. You know that little piece of land across the brook that runs up between our farm and
Mr. Barry's. It belongs to Mr. William Bell, and right in the corner there is a little
ring of white birch trees—the most romantic spot, Marilla. Diana and I have our playhouse
there. We call it Idlewild. Isn't that a poetical name? I assure you it took me some
time to think it out. I stayed awake nearly a whole night before I invented it. Then,
just as I was dropping off to sleep, it came like an inspiration. Diana was enraptured
when she heard it. We have got our house fixed up elegantly. You must come and see it, Marilla—won't
you? We have great big stones, all covered with moss, for seats, and boards from tree
to tree for shelves. And we have all our dishes on them. Of course, they're all broken but
it's the easiest thing in the world to imagine that they are whole. There's a piece of
a plate with a spray of red and yellow ivy on it that is especially beautiful. We keep
it in the parlor and we have the fairy glass there, too. The fairy glass is as lovely as
a dream. Diana found it out in the woods behind their chicken house. It's all full of rainbows—just
little young rainbows that haven't grown big yet—and Diana's mother told her it
was broken off a hanging lamp they once had. But it's nice to imagine the fairies lost
it one night when they had a ball, so we call it the fairy glass. Matthew is going to make
us a table. Oh, we have named that little round pool over in Mr. Barry's field Willowmere.
I got that name out of the book Diana lent me. That was a thrilling book, Marilla. The
heroine had five lovers. I'd be satisfied with one, wouldn't you? She was very handsome
and she went through great tribulations. She could faint as easy as anything. I'd love
to be able to faint, wouldn't you, Marilla? It's so romantic. But I'm really very
healthy for all I'm so thin. I believe I'm getting fatter, though. Don't you think
I am? I look at my elbows every morning when I get up to see if any dimples are coming.
Diana is having a new dress made with elbow sleeves. She is going to wear it to the picnic.
Oh, I do hope it will be fine next Wednesday. I don't feel that I could endure the disappointment
if anything happened to prevent me from getting to the picnic. I suppose I'd live through
it, but I'm certain it would be a lifelong sorrow. It wouldn't matter if I got to a
hundred picnics in after years; they wouldn't make up for missing this one. They're going
to have boats on the Lake of Shining Waters—and ice cream, as I told you. I have never tasted
ice cream. Diana tried to explain what it was like, but I guess ice cream is one of
those things that are beyond imagination.”
“Anne, you have talked even on for ten minutes by the clock,” said Marilla. “Now, just
for curiosity's sake, see if you can hold your tongue for the same length of time.”
Anne held her tongue as desired. But for the rest of the week she talked picnic and thought
picnic and dreamed picnic. On Saturday it rained and she worked herself up into such
a frantic state lest it should keep on raining until and over Wednesday that Marilla made
her sew an extra patchwork square by way of steadying her nerves.
On Sunday Anne confided to Marilla on the way home from church that she grew actually
cold all over with excitement when the minister announced the picnic from the pulpit.
“Such a thrill as went up and down my back, Marilla! I don't think I'd ever really
believed until then that there was honestly going to be a picnic. I couldn't help fearing
I'd only imagined it. But when a minister says a thing in the pulpit you just have to
believe it.”
“You set your heart too much on things, Anne,” said Marilla, with a sigh. “I'm
afraid there'll be a great many disappointments in store for you through life.”
“Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them,” exclaimed
Anne. “You mayn't get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the
fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde says, 'Blessed are they who expect nothing
for they shall not be disappointed.' But I think it would be worse to expect nothing
than to be disappointed.”
Marilla wore her amethyst brooch to church that day as usual. Marilla always wore her
amethyst brooch to church. She would have thought it rather sacrilegious to leave it
off—as bad as forgetting her Bible or her collection dime. That amethyst brooch was
Marilla's most treasured possession. A seafaring uncle had given it to her mother who in turn
had bequeathed it to Marilla. It was an old-fashioned oval, containing a braid of her mother's
hair, surrounded by a border of very fine amethysts. Marilla knew too little about precious
stones to realize how fine the amethysts actually were; but she thought them very beautiful
and was always pleasantly conscious of their violet shimmer at her throat, above her good
brown satin dress, even although she could not see it.
Anne had been smitten with delighted admiration when she first saw that brooch.
“Oh, Marilla, it's a perfectly elegant brooch. I don't know how you can pay attention
to the sermon or the prayers when you have it on. I couldn't, I know. I think amethysts
are just sweet. They are what I used to think diamonds were like. Long ago, before I had
ever seen a diamond, I read about them and I tried to imagine what they would be like.
I thought they would be lovely glimmering purple stones. When I saw a real diamond in
a lady's ring one day I was so disappointed I cried. Of course, it was very lovely but
it wasn't my idea of a diamond. Will you let me hold the brooch for one minute, Marilla?
Do you think amethysts can be the souls of good violets?”
CHAPTER XIV. Anne's Confession ON the Monday evening before the picnic Marilla
came down from her room with a troubled face.
“Anne,” she said to that small personage, who was shelling peas by the spotless table
and singing, “Nelly of the Hazel Dell” with a vigor and expression that did credit
to Diana's teaching, “did you see anything of my amethyst brooch? I thought I stuck it
in my pincushion when I came home from church yesterday evening, but I can't find it anywhere.”
“I—I saw it this afternoon when you were away at the Aid Society,” said Anne, a little
slowly. “I was passing your door when I saw it on the cushion, so I went in to look
at it.”
“Did you touch it?” said Marilla sternly.
“Y-e-e-s,” admitted Anne, “I took it up and I pinned it on my breast just to see
how it would look.”
“You had no business to do anything of the sort. It's very wrong in a little girl to
meddle. You shouldn't have gone into my room in the first place and you shouldn't
have touched a brooch that didn't belong to you in the second. Where did you put it?”
“Oh, I put it back on the bureau. I hadn't it on a minute. Truly, I didn't mean to
meddle, Marilla. I didn't think about its being wrong to go in and try on the brooch;
but I see now that it was and I'll never do it again. That's one good thing about
me. I never do the same naughty thing twice.”
“You didn't put it back,” said Marilla. “That brooch isn't anywhere on the bureau.
You've taken it out or something, Anne.”
“I did put it back,” said Anne quickly—pertly, Marilla thought. “I don't just remember
whether I stuck it on the pincushion or laid it in the china tray. But I'm perfectly
certain I put it back.”
“I'll go and have another look,” said Marilla, determining to be just. “If you
put that brooch back it's there still. If it isn't I'll know you didn't, that's
all!”
Marilla went to her room and made a thorough search, not only over the bureau but in every
other place she thought the brooch might possibly be. It was not to be found and she returned
to the kitchen.
“Anne, the brooch is gone. By your own admission you were the last person to handle it. Now,
what have you done with it? Tell me the truth at once. Did you take it out and lose it?”
“No, I didn't,” said Anne solemnly, meeting Marilla's angry gaze squarely. “I
never took the brooch out of your room and that is the truth, if I was to be led to the
block for it—although I'm not very certain what a block is. So there, Marilla.”
Anne's “so there” was only intended to emphasize her assertion, but Marilla took
it as a display of defiance.
“I believe you are telling me a falsehood, Anne,” she said sharply. “I know you are.
There now, don't say anything more unless you are prepared to tell the whole truth.
Go to your room and stay there until you are ready to confess.”
“Will I take the peas with me?” said Anne meekly.
“No, I'll finish shelling them myself. Do as I bid you.”
When Anne had gone Marilla went about her evening tasks in a very disturbed state of
mind. She was worried about her valuable brooch. What if Anne had lost it? And how wicked of
the child to deny having taken it, when anybody could see she must have! With such an innocent
face, too!
“I don't know what I wouldn't sooner have had happen,” thought Marilla, as she
nervously shelled the peas. “Of course, I don't suppose she meant to steal it or
anything like that. She's just taken it to play with or help along that imagination
of hers. She must have taken it, that's clear, for there hasn't been a soul in that
room since she was in it, by her own story, until I went up tonight. And the brooch is
gone, there's nothing surer. I suppose she has lost it and is afraid to own up for fear
she'll be punished. It's a dreadful thing to think she tells falsehoods. It's a far
worse thing than her fit of temper. It's a fearful responsibility to have a child in
your house you can't trust. Slyness and untruthfulness—that's what she has displayed.
I declare I feel worse about that than about the brooch. If she'd only have told the
truth about it I wouldn't mind so much.”
Marilla went to her room at intervals all through the evening and searched for the brooch,
without finding it. A bedtime visit to the east gable produced no result. Anne persisted
in denying that she knew anything about the brooch but Marilla was only the more firmly
convinced that she did.
She told Matthew the story the next morning. Matthew was confounded and puzzled; he could
not so quickly lose faith in Anne but he had to admit that circumstances were against her.
“You're sure it hasn't fell down behind the bureau?” was the only suggestion he
could offer.
“I've moved the bureau and I've taken out the drawers and I've looked in every
crack and cranny” was Marilla's positive answer. “The brooch is gone and that child
has taken it and lied about it. That's the plain, ugly truth, Matthew Cuthbert, and we
might as well look it in the face.”
“Well now, what are you going to do about it?” Matthew asked forlornly, feeling secretly
thankful that Marilla and not he had to deal with the situation. He felt no desire to put
his oar in this time.
“She'll stay in her room until she confesses,” said Marilla grimly, remembering the success
of this method in the former case. “Then we'll see. Perhaps we'll be able to find
the brooch if she'll only tell where she took it; but in any case she'll have to
be severely punished, Matthew.”
“Well now, you'll have to punish her,” said Matthew, reaching for his hat. “I've
nothing to do with it, remember. You warned me off yourself.”
Marilla felt deserted by everyone. She could not even go to Mrs. Lynde for advice. She
went up to the east gable with a very serious face and left it with a face more serious
still. Anne steadfastly refused to confess. She persisted in asserting that she had not
taken the brooch. The child had evidently been crying and Marilla felt a pang of pity
which she sternly repressed. By night she was, as she expressed it, “beat out.”
“You'll stay in this room until you confess, Anne. You can make up your mind to that,”
she said firmly.
“But the picnic is tomorrow, Marilla,” cried Anne. “You won't keep me from going
to that, will you? You'll just let me out for the afternoon, won't you? Then I'll
stay here as long as you like afterwards cheerfully. But I must go to the picnic.”
“You'll not go to picnics nor anywhere else until you've confessed, Anne.”
“Oh, Marilla,” gasped Anne.
But Marilla had gone out and shut the door.
Wednesday morning dawned as bright and fair as if expressly made to order for the picnic.
Birds sang around Green Gables; the Madonna lilies in the garden sent out whiffs of perfume
that entered in on viewless winds at every door and window, and wandered through halls
and rooms like spirits of benediction. The birches in the hollow waved joyful hands as
if watching for Anne's usual morning greeting from the east gable. But Anne was not at her
window. When Marilla took her breakfast up to her she found the child sitting primly
on her bed, pale and resolute, with tight-shut lips and gleaming eyes.
“Marilla, I'm ready to confess.”
“Ah!” Marilla laid down her tray. Once again her method had succeeded; but her success
was very bitter to her. “Let me hear what you have to say then, Anne.”
“I took the amethyst brooch,” said Anne, as if repeating a lesson she had learned.
“I took it just as you said. I didn't mean to take it when I went in. But it did
look so beautiful, Marilla, when I pinned it on my breast that I was overcome by an
irresistible temptation. I imagined how perfectly thrilling it would be to take it to Idlewild
and play I was the Lady Cordelia Fitzgerald. It would be so much easier to imagine I was
the Lady Cordelia if I had a real amethyst brooch on. Diana and I make necklaces of roseberries
but what are roseberries compared to amethysts? So I took the brooch. I thought I could put
it back before you came home. I went all the way around by the road to lengthen out the
time. When I was going over the bridge across the Lake of Shining Waters I took the brooch
off to have another look at it. Oh, how it did shine in the sunlight! And then, when
I was leaning over the bridge, it just slipped through my fingers—so—and went down—down—down,
all purply-sparkling, and sank forevermore beneath the Lake of Shining Waters. And that's
the best I can do at confessing, Marilla.”
Marilla felt hot anger surge up into her heart again. This child had taken and lost her treasured
amethyst brooch and now sat there calmly reciting the details thereof without the least apparent
compunction or repentance.
“Anne, this is terrible,” she said, trying to speak calmly. “You are the very wickedest
girl I ever heard of.”
“Yes, I suppose I am,” agreed Anne tranquilly. “And I know I'll have to be punished.
It'll be your duty to punish me, Marilla. Won't you please get it over right off because
I'd like to go to the picnic with nothing on my mind.”
“Picnic, indeed! You'll go to no picnic today, Anne Shirley. That shall be your punishment.
And it isn't half severe enough either for what you've done!”
“Not go to the picnic!” Anne sprang to her feet and clutched Marilla's hand. “But
you promised me I might! Oh, Marilla, I must go to the picnic. That was why I confessed.
Punish me any way you like but that. Oh, Marilla, please, please, let me go to the picnic. Think
of the ice cream! For anything you know I may never have a chance to taste ice cream
again.”
Marilla disengaged Anne's clinging hands stonily.
“You needn't plead, Anne. You are not going to the picnic and that's final. No,
not a word.”
Anne realized that Marilla was not to be moved. She clasped her hands together, gave a piercing
shriek, and then flung herself face downward on the bed, crying and writhing in an utter
abandonment of disappointment and despair.
“For the land's sake!” gasped Marilla, hastening from the room. “I believe the
child is crazy. No child in her senses would behave as she does. If she isn't she's
utterly bad. Oh dear, I'm afraid Rachel was right from the first. But I've put my
hand to the plow and I won't look back.”
That was a dismal morning. Marilla worked fiercely and scrubbed the porch floor and
the dairy shelves when she could find nothing else to do. Neither the shelves nor the porch
needed it—but Marilla did. Then she went out and raked the yard.
When dinner was ready she went to the stairs and called Anne. A tear-stained face appeared,
looking tragically over the banisters.
“Come down to your dinner, Anne.”
“I don't want any dinner, Marilla,” said Anne, sobbingly. “I couldn't eat
anything. My heart is broken. You'll feel remorse of conscience someday, I expect, for
breaking it, Marilla, but I forgive you. Remember when the time comes that I forgive you. But
please don't ask me to eat anything, especially boiled pork and greens. Boiled pork and greens
are so unromantic when one is in affliction.”
Exasperated, Marilla returned to the kitchen and poured out her tale of woe to Matthew,
who, between his sense of justice and his unlawful sympathy with Anne, was a miserable
man.
“Well now, she shouldn't have taken the brooch, Marilla, or told stories about it,”
he admitted, mournfully surveying his plateful of unromantic pork and greens as if he, like
Anne, thought it a food unsuited to crises of feeling, “but she's such a little thing—such
an interesting little thing. Don't you think it's pretty rough not to let her go to the
picnic when she's so set on it?”
“Matthew Cuthbert, I'm amazed at you. I think I've let her off entirely too easy.
And she doesn't appear to realize how wicked she's been at all—that's what worries
me most. If she'd really felt sorry it wouldn't be so bad. And you don't seem to realize
it, neither; you're making excuses for her all the time to yourself—I can see that.”
“Well now, she's such a little thing,” feebly reiterated Matthew. “And there should
be allowances made, Marilla. You know she's never had any bringing up.”
“Well, she's having it now” retorted Marilla.
The retort silenced Matthew if it did not convince him. That dinner was a very dismal
meal. The only cheerful thing about it was Jerry Buote, the hired boy, and Marilla resented
his cheerfulness as a personal insult.
When her dishes were washed and her bread sponge set and her hens fed Marilla remembered
that she had noticed a small rent in her best black lace shawl when she had taken it off
on Monday afternoon on returning from the Ladies' Aid.
She would go and mend it. The shawl was in a box in her trunk. As Marilla lifted it out,
the sunlight, falling through the vines that clustered thickly about the window, struck
upon something caught in the shawl—something that glittered and sparkled in facets of violet
light. Marilla snatched at it with a gasp. It was the amethyst brooch, hanging to a thread
of the lace by its catch!
“Dear life and heart,” said Marilla blankly, “what does this mean? Here's my brooch
safe and sound that I thought was at the bottom of Barry's pond. Whatever did that girl
mean by saying she took it and lost it? I declare I believe Green Gables is bewitched.
I remember now that when I took off my shawl Monday afternoon I laid it on the bureau for
a minute. I suppose the brooch got caught in it somehow. Well!”
Marilla betook herself to the east gable, brooch in hand. Anne had cried herself out
and was sitting dejectedly by the window.
“Anne Shirley,” said Marilla solemnly, “I've just found my brooch hanging to
my black lace shawl. Now I want to know what that rigmarole you told me this morning meant.”
“Why, you said you'd keep me here until I confessed,” returned Anne wearily, “and
so I decided to confess because I was bound to get to the picnic. I thought out a confession
last night after I went to bed and made it as interesting as I could. And I said it over
and over so that I wouldn't forget it. But you wouldn't let me go to the picnic after
all, so all my trouble was wasted.”
Marilla had to laugh in spite of herself. But her conscience pricked her.
“Anne, you do beat all! But I was wrong—I see that now. I shouldn't have doubted your
word when I'd never known you to tell a story. Of course, it wasn't right for you
to confess to a thing you hadn't done—it was very wrong to do so. But I drove you to
it. So if you'll forgive me, Anne, I'll forgive you and we'll start square again.
And now get yourself ready for the picnic.”
Anne flew up like a rocket.
“Oh, Marilla, isn't it too late?”
“No, it's only two o'clock. They won't be more than well gathered yet and it'll
be an hour before they have tea. Wash your face and comb your hair and put on your gingham.
I'll fill a basket for you. There's plenty of stuff baked in the house. And I'll get
Jerry to hitch up the sorrel and drive you down to the picnic ground.”
“Oh, Marilla,” exclaimed Anne, flying to the washstand. “Five minutes ago I was
so miserable I was wishing I'd never been born and now I wouldn't change places with
an angel!”
That night a thoroughly happy, completely tired-out Anne returned to Green Gables in
a state of beatification impossible to describe.
“Oh, Marilla, I've had a perfectly scrumptious time. Scrumptious is a new word I learned
today. I heard Mary Alice Bell use it. Isn't it very expressive? Everything was lovely.
We had a splendid tea and then Mr. Harmon Andrews took us all for a row on the Lake
of Shining Waters—six of us at a time. And Jane Andrews nearly fell overboard. She was
leaning out to pick water lilies and if Mr. Andrews hadn't caught her by her sash just
in the nick of time she'd fallen in and prob'ly been drowned. I wish it had been
me. It would have been such a romantic experience to have been nearly drowned. It would be such
a thrilling tale to tell. And we had the ice cream. Words fail me to describe that ice
cream. Marilla, I assure you it was sublime.”
That evening Marilla told the whole story to Matthew over her stocking basket.
“I'm willing to own up that I made a mistake,” she concluded candidly, “but I've learned
a lesson. I have to laugh when I think of Anne's 'confession,' although I suppose
I shouldn't for it really was a falsehood. But it doesn't seem as bad as the other
would have been, somehow, and anyhow I'm responsible for it. That child is hard to
understand in some respects. But I believe she'll turn out all right yet. And there's
one thing certain, no house will ever be dull that she's in.”
CHAPTER XV. A
Tempest in the School Teapot WHAT a splendid day!” said Anne, drawing
a long breath. “Isn't it good just to be alive on a day like this? I pity the people
who aren't born yet for missing it. They may have good days, of course, but they can
never have this one. And it's splendider still to have such a lovely way to go to school
by, isn't it?”
“It's a lot nicer than going round by the road; that is so dusty and hot,” said
Diana practically, peeping into her dinner basket and mentally calculating if the three
juicy, toothsome, raspberry tarts reposing there were divided among ten girls how many
bites each girl would have.
The little girls of Avonlea school always pooled their lunches, and to eat three raspberry
tarts all alone or even to share them only with one's best chum would have forever
and ever branded as “awful mean” the girl who did it. And yet, when the tarts were divided
among ten girls you just got enough to tantalize you.
The way Anne and Diana went to school was a pretty one. Anne thought those walks to
and from school with Diana couldn't be improved upon even by imagination. Going around by
the main road would have been so unromantic; but to go by Lover's Lane and Willowmere
and Violet Vale and the Birch Path was romantic, if ever anything was.
Lover's Lane opened out below the orchard at Green Gables and stretched far up into
the woods to the end of the Cuthbert farm. It was the way by which the cows were taken
to the back pasture and the wood hauled home in winter. Anne had named it Lover's Lane
before she had been a month at Green Gables.
“Not that lovers ever really walk there,” she explained to Marilla, “but Diana and
I are reading a perfectly magnificent book and there's a Lover's Lane in it. So we
want to have one, too. And it's a very pretty name, don't you think? So romantic! We can't
imagine the lovers into it, you know. I like that lane because you can think out loud there
without people calling you crazy.”
Anne, starting out alone in the morning, went down Lover's Lane as far as the brook. Here
Diana met her, and the two little girls went on up the lane under the leafy arch of maples—“maples
are such sociable trees,” said Anne; “they're always rustling and whispering to you”—until
they came to a rustic bridge. Then they left the lane and walked through Mr. Barry's
back field and past Willowmere. Beyond Willowmere came Violet Vale—a little green dimple in
the shadow of Mr. Andrew Bell's big woods. “Of course there are no violets there now,”
Anne told Marilla, “but Diana says there are millions of them in spring. Oh, Marilla,
can't you just imagine you see them? It actually takes away my breath. I named it
Violet Vale. Diana says she never saw the beat of me for hitting on fancy names for
places. It's nice to be clever at something, isn't it? But Diana named the Birch Path.
She wanted to, so I let her; but I'm sure I could have found something more poetical
than plain Birch Path. Anybody can think of a name like that. But the Birch Path is one
of the prettiest places in the world, Marilla.”
It was. Other people besides Anne thought so when they stumbled on it. It was a little
narrow, twisting path, winding down over a long hill straight through Mr. Bell's woods,
where the light came down sifted through so many emerald screens that it was as flawless
as the heart of a diamond. It was fringed in all its length with slim young birches,
white stemmed and lissom boughed; ferns and starflowers and wild lilies-of-the-valley
and scarlet tufts of pigeonberries grew thickly along it; and always there was a delightful
spiciness in the air and music of bird calls and the murmur and laugh of wood winds in
the trees overhead. Now and then you might see a rabbit skipping across the road if you
were quiet—which, with Anne and Diana, happened about once in a blue moon. Down in the valley
the path came out to the main road and then it was just up the spruce hill to the school.
The Avonlea school was a whitewashed building, low in the eaves and wide in the windows,
furnished inside with comfortable substantial old-fashioned desks that opened and shut,
and were carved all over their lids with the initials and hieroglyphics of three generations
of school children. The schoolhouse was set back from the road and behind it was a dusky
fir wood and a brook where all the children put their bottles of milk in the morning to
keep cool and sweet until dinner hour.
Marilla had seen Anne start off to school on the first day of September with many secret
misgivings. Anne was such an odd girl. How would she get on with the other children?
And how on earth would she ever manage to hold her tongue during school hours?
Things went better than Marilla feared, however. Anne came home that evening in high spirits.
“I think I'm going to like school here,” she announced. “I don't think much of
the master, through. He's all the time curling his mustache and making eyes at Prissy Andrews.
Prissy is grown up, you know. She's sixteen and she's studying for the entrance examination
into Queen's Academy at Charlottetown next year. Tillie Boulter says the master is dead
gone on her. She's got a beautiful complexion and curly brown hair and she does it up so
elegantly. She sits in the long seat at the back and he sits there, too, most of the time—to
explain her lessons, he says. But Ruby Gillis says she saw him writing something on her
slate and when Prissy read it she blushed as red as a beet and giggled; and Ruby Gillis
says she doesn't believe it had anything to do with the lesson.”
“Anne Shirley, don't let me hear you talking about your teacher in that way again,” said
Marilla sharply. “You don't go to school to criticize the master. I guess he can teach
you something, and it's your business to learn. And I want you to understand right
off that you are not to come home telling tales about him. That is something I won't
encourage. I hope you were a good girl.”
“Indeed I was,” said Anne comfortably. “It wasn't so hard as you might imagine,
either. I sit with Diana. Our seat is right by the window and we can look down to the
Lake of Shining Waters. There are a lot of nice girls in school and we had scrumptious
fun playing at dinnertime. It's so nice to have a lot of little girls to play with.
But of course I like Diana best and always will. I adore Diana. I'm dreadfully far
behind the others. They're all in the fifth book and I'm only in the fourth. I feel
that it's kind of a disgrace. But there's not one of them has such an imagination as
I have and I soon found that out. We had reading and geography and Canadian history and dictation
today. Mr. Phillips said my spelling was disgraceful and he held up my slate so that everybody
could see it, all marked over. I felt so mortified, Marilla; he might have been politer to a stranger,
I think. Ruby Gillis gave me an apple and Sophia Sloane lent me a lovely pink card with
'May I see you home?' on it. I'm to give it back to her tomorrow. And Tillie Boulter
let me wear her bead ring all the afternoon. Can I have some of those pearl beads off the
old pincushion in the garret to make myself a ring? And oh, Marilla, Jane Andrews told
me that Minnie MacPherson told her that she heard Prissy Andrews tell Sara Gillis that
I had a very pretty nose. Marilla, that is the first compliment I have ever had in my
life and you can't imagine what a strange feeling it gave me. Marilla, have I really
a pretty nose? I know you'll tell me the truth.”
“Your nose is well enough,” said Marilla shortly. Secretly she thought Anne's nose
was a remarkable pretty one; but she had no intention of telling her so.
That was three weeks ago and all had gone smoothly so far. And now, this crisp September
morning, Anne and Diana were tripping blithely down the Birch Path, two of the happiest little
girls in Avonlea.
“I guess Gilbert Blythe will be in school today,” said Diana. “He's been visiting
his cousins over in New Brunswick all summer and he only came home Saturday night. He's
aw'fly handsome, Anne. And he teases the girls something terrible. He just torments
our lives out.”
Diana's voice indicated that she rather liked having her life tormented out than not.
“Gilbert Blythe?” said Anne. “Isn't his name that's written up on the porch
wall with Julia Bell's and a big 'Take Notice' over them?”
“Yes,” said Diana, tossing her head, “but I'm sure he doesn't like Julia Bell so
very much. I've heard him say he studied the multiplication table by her freckles.”
“Oh, don't speak about freckles to me,” implored Anne. “It isn't delicate when
I've got so many. But I do think that writing take-notices up on the wall about the boys
and girls is the silliest ever. I should just like to see anybody dare to write my name
up with a boy's. Not, of course,” she hastened to add, “that anybody would.”
Anne sighed. She didn't want her name written up. But it was a little humiliating to know
that there was no danger of it.
“Nonsense,” said Diana, whose black eyes and glossy tresses had played such havoc with
the hearts of Avonlea schoolboys that her name figured on the porch walls in half a
dozen take-notices. “It's only meant as a joke. And don't you be too sure your name
won't ever be written up. Charlie Sloane is dead gone on you. He told his mother—his
mother, mind you—that you were the smartest girl in school. That's better than being
good looking.”
“No, it isn't,” said Anne, feminine to the core. “I'd rather be pretty than
clever. And I hate Charlie Sloane, I can't bear a boy with goggle eyes. If anyone wrote
my name up with his I'd never get over it, Diana Barry. But it is nice to keep head of
your class.”
“You'll have Gilbert in your class after this,” said Diana, “and he's used to
being head of his class, I can tell you. He's only in the fourth book although he's nearly
fourteen. Four years ago his father was sick and had to go out to Alberta for his health
and Gilbert went with him. They were there three years and Gil didn't go to school
hardly any until they came back. You won't find it so easy to keep head after this, Anne.”
“I'm glad,” said Anne quickly. “I couldn't really feel proud of keeping head
of little boys and girls of just nine or ten. I got up yesterday spelling 'ebullition.'
Josie Pye was head and, mind you, she peeped in her book. Mr. Phillips didn't see her—he
was looking at Prissy Andrews—but I did. I just swept her a look of freezing scorn
and she got as red as a beet and spelled it wrong after all.”
“Those Pye girls are cheats all round,” said Diana indignantly, as they climbed the
fence of the main road. “Gertie Pye actually went and put her milk bottle in my place in
the brook yesterday. Did you ever? I don't speak to her now.”
When Mr. Phillips was in the back of the room hearing Prissy Andrews's Latin, Diana whispered
to Anne, “That's Gilbert Blythe sitting right across the aisle from you, Anne. Just
look at him and see if you don't think he's handsome.”
Anne looked accordingly. She had a good chance to do so, for the said Gilbert Blythe was
absorbed in stealthily pinning the long yellow braid of Ruby Gillis, who sat in front of
him, to the back of her seat. He was a tall boy, with curly brown hair, roguish hazel
eyes, and a mouth twisted into a teasing smile. Presently Ruby Gillis started up to take a
sum to the master; she fell back into her seat with a little shriek, believing that
her hair was pulled out by the roots. Everybody looked at her and Mr. Phillips glared so sternly
that Ruby began to cry. Gilbert had whisked the pin out of sight and was studying his
history with the soberest face in the world; but when the commotion subsided he looked
at Anne and winked with inexpressible drollery.
“I think your Gilbert Blythe is handsome,” confided Anne to Diana, “but I think he's
very bold. It isn't good manners to wink at a strange girl.”
But it was not until the afternoon that things really began to happen.
Mr. Phillips was back in the corner explaining a problem in algebra to Prissy Andrews and
the rest of the scholars were doing pretty much as they pleased eating green apples,
whispering, drawing pictures on their slates, and driving crickets harnessed to strings,
up and down aisle. Gilbert Blythe was trying to make Anne Shirley look at him and failing
utterly, because Anne was at that moment totally oblivious not only to the very existence of
Gilbert Blythe, but of every other scholar in Avonlea school itself. With her chin propped
on her hands and her eyes fixed on the blue glimpse of the Lake of Shining Waters that
the west window afforded, she was far away in a gorgeous dreamland hearing and seeing
nothing save her own wonderful visions.
Gilbert Blythe wasn't used to putting himself out to make a girl look at him and meeting
with failure. She should look at him, that red-haired Shirley girl with the little pointed
chin and the big eyes that weren't like the eyes of any other girl in Avonlea school.
Gilbert reached across the aisle, picked up the end of Anne's long red braid, held it
out at arm's length and said in a piercing whisper:
“Carrots! Carrots!”
Then Anne looked at him with a vengeance!
She did more than look. She sprang to her feet, her bright fancies fallen into cureless
ruin. She flashed one indignant glance at Gilbert from eyes whose angry sparkle was
swiftly quenched in equally angry tears.
“You mean, hateful boy!” she exclaimed passionately. “How dare you!”
And then—thwack! Anne had brought her slate down on Gilbert's head and cracked it—slate
not head—clear across.
Avonlea school always enjoyed a scene. This was an especially enjoyable one. Everybody
said “Oh” in horrified delight. Diana gasped. Ruby Gillis, who was inclined to be
hysterical, began to cry. Tommy Sloane let his team of crickets escape him altogether
while he stared open-mouthed at the tableau.
Mr. Phillips stalked down the aisle and laid his hand heavily on Anne's shoulder.
“Anne Shirley, what does this mean?” he said angrily. Anne returned no answer. It
was asking too much of flesh and blood to expect her to tell before the whole school
that she had been called “carrots.” Gilbert it was who spoke up stoutly.
“It was my fault Mr. Phillips. I teased her.”
Mr. Phillips paid no heed to Gilbert.
“I am sorry to see a pupil of mine displaying such a temper and such a vindictive spirit,”
he said in a solemn tone, as if the mere fact of being a pupil of his ought to root out
all evil passions from the hearts of small imperfect mortals. “Anne, go and stand on
the platform in front of the blackboard for the rest of the afternoon.”
Anne would have infinitely preferred a whipping to this punishment under which her sensitive
spirit quivered as from a whiplash. With a white, set face she obeyed. Mr. Phillips took
a chalk crayon and wrote on the blackboard above her head.
“Ann Shirley has a very bad temper. Ann Shirley must learn to control her temper,”
and then read it out loud so that even the primer class, who couldn't read writing,
should understand it.
Anne stood there the rest of the afternoon with that legend above her. She did not cry
or hang her head. Anger was still too hot in her heart for that and it sustained her
amid all her agony of humiliation. With resentful eyes and passion-red cheeks she confronted
alike Diana's sympathetic gaze and Charlie Sloane's indignant nods and Josie Pye's
malicious smiles. As for Gilbert Blythe, she would not even look at him. She would never
look at him again! She would never speak to him!!
When school was dismissed Anne marched out with her red head held high. Gilbert Blythe
tried to intercept her at the porch door.
“I'm awfully sorry I made fun of your hair, Anne,” he whispered contritely. “Honest
I am. Don't be mad for keeps, now.”
Anne swept by disdainfully, without look or sign of hearing. “Oh how could you, Anne?”
breathed Diana as they went down the road half reproachfully, half admiringly. Diana
felt that she could never have resisted Gilbert's plea.
“I shall never forgive Gilbert Blythe,” said Anne firmly. “And Mr. Phillips spelled
my name without an e, too. The iron has entered into my soul, Diana.”
Diana hadn't the least idea what Anne meant but she understood it was something terrible.
“You mustn't mind Gilbert making fun of your hair,” she said soothingly. “Why,
he makes fun of all the girls. He laughs at mine because it's so black. He's called
me a crow a dozen times; and I never heard him apologize for anything before, either.”
“There's a great deal of difference between being called a crow and being called carrots,”
said Anne with dignity. “Gilbert Blythe has hurt my feelings excruciatingly, Diana.”
It is possible the matter might have blown over without more excruciation if nothing
else had happened. But when things begin to happen they are apt to keep on.
Avonlea scholars often spent noon hour picking gum in Mr. Bell's spruce grove over the
hill and across his big pasture field. From there they could keep an eye on Eben Wright's
house, where the master boarded. When they saw Mr. Phillips emerging therefrom they ran
for the schoolhouse; but the distance being about three times longer than Mr. Wright's
lane they were very apt to arrive there, breathless and gasping, some three minutes too late.
On the following day Mr. Phillips was seized with one of his spasmodic fits of reform and
announced before going home to dinner, that he should expect to find all the scholars
in their seats when he returned. Anyone who came in late would be punished.
All the boys and some of the girls went to Mr. Bell's spruce grove as usual, fully
intending to stay only long enough to “pick a chew.” But spruce groves are seductive
and yellow nuts of gum beguiling; they picked and loitered and strayed; and as usual the
first thing that recalled them to a sense of the flight of time was Jimmy Glover shouting
from the top of a patriarchal old spruce “Master's coming.”
The girls who were on the ground, started first and managed to reach the schoolhouse
in time but without a second to spare. The boys, who had to wriggle hastily down from
the trees, were later; and Anne, who had not been picking gum at all but was wandering
happily in the far end of the grove, waist deep among the bracken, singing softly to
herself, with a wreath of rice lilies on her hair as if she were some wild divinity of
the shadowy places, was latest of all. Anne could run like a deer, however; run she did
with the impish result that she overtook the boys at the door and was swept into the schoolhouse
among them just as Mr. Phillips was in the act of hanging up his hat.
Mr. Phillips's brief reforming energy was over; he didn't want the bother of punishing
a dozen pupils; but it was necessary to do something to save his word, so he looked about
for a scapegoat and found it in Anne, who had dropped into her seat, gasping for breath,
with a forgotten lily wreath hanging askew over one ear and giving her a particularly
rakish and disheveled appearance.
“Anne Shirley, since you seem to be so fond of the boys' company we shall indulge your
taste for it this afternoon,” he said sarcastically. “Take those flowers out of your hair and
sit with Gilbert Blythe.”
The other boys snickered. Diana, turning pale with pity, plucked the wreath from Anne's
hair and squeezed her hand. Anne stared at the master as if turned to stone.
“Did you hear what I said, Anne?” queried Mr. Phillips sternly.
“Yes, sir,” said Anne slowly “but I didn't suppose you really meant it.”
“I assure you I did”—still with the sarcastic inflection which all the children,
and Anne especially, hated. It flicked on the raw. “Obey me at once.”
For a moment Anne looked as if she meant to disobey. Then, realizing that there was no
help for it, she rose haughtily, stepped across the aisle, sat down beside Gilbert Blythe,
and buried her face in her arms on the desk. Ruby Gillis, who got a glimpse of it as it
went down, told the others going home from school that she'd “acksually never seen
anything like it—it was so white, with awful little red spots in it.”
To Anne, this was as the end of all things. It was bad enough to be singled out for punishment
from among a dozen equally guilty ones; it was worse still to be sent to sit with a boy,
but that that boy should be Gilbert Blythe was heaping insult on injury to a degree utterly
unbearable. Anne felt that she could not bear it and it would be of no use to try. Her whole
being seethed with shame and anger and humiliation.
At first the other scholars looked and whispered and giggled and nudged. But as Anne never
lifted her head and as Gilbert worked fractions as if his whole soul was absorbed in them
and them only, they soon returned to their own tasks and Anne was forgotten. When Mr.
Phillips called the history class out Anne should have gone, but Anne did not move, and
Mr. Phillips, who had been writing some verses “To Priscilla” before he called the class,
was thinking about an obstinate rhyme still and never missed her. Once, when nobody was
looking, Gilbert took from his desk a little pink candy heart with a gold motto on it,
“You are sweet,” and slipped it under the curve of Anne's arm. Whereupon Anne
arose, took the pink heart gingerly between the tips of her fingers, dropped it on the
floor, ground it to powder beneath her heel, and resumed her position without deigning
to bestow a glance on Gilbert.
When school went out Anne marched to her desk, ostentatiously took out everything therein,
books and writing tablet, pen and ink, testament and arithmetic, and piled them neatly on her
cracked slate.
“What are you taking all those things home for, Anne?” Diana wanted to know, as soon
as they were out on the road. She had not dared to ask the question before.
“I am not coming back to school any more,” said Anne. Diana gasped and stared at Anne
to see if she meant it.
“Will Marilla let you stay home?” she asked.
“She'll have to,” said Anne. “I'll never go to school to that man again.”
“Oh, Anne!” Diana looked as if she were ready to cry. “I do think you're mean.
What shall I do? Mr. Phillips will make me sit with that horrid Gertie Pye—I know he
will because she is sitting alone. Do come back, Anne.”
“I'd do almost anything in the world for you, Diana,” said Anne sadly. “I'd let
myself be torn limb from limb if it would do you any good. But I can't do this, so
please don't ask it. You harrow up my very soul.”
“Just think of all the fun you will miss,” mourned Diana. “We are going to build the
loveliest new house down by the brook; and we'll be playing ball next week and you've
never played ball, Anne. It's tremendously exciting. And we're going to learn a new
song—Jane Andrews is practicing it up now; and Alice Andrews is going to bring a new
Pansy book next week and we're all going to read it out loud, chapter about, down by
the brook. And you know you are so fond of reading out loud, Anne.”
Nothing moved Anne in the least. Her mind was made up. She would not go to school to
Mr. Phillips again; she told Marilla so when she got home.
“Nonsense,” said Marilla.
“It isn't nonsense at all,” said Anne, gazing at Marilla with solemn, reproachful
eyes. “Don't you understand, Marilla? I've been insulted.”
“Insulted fiddlesticks! You'll go to school tomorrow as usual.”
“Oh, no.” Anne shook her head gently. “I'm not going back, Marilla. I'll learn
my lessons at home and I'll be as good as I can be and hold my tongue all the time if
it's possible at all. But I will not go back to school, I assure you.”
Marilla saw something remarkably like unyielding stubbornness looking out of Anne's small
face. She understood that she would have trouble in overcoming it; but she re-solved wisely
to say nothing more just then. “I'll run down and see Rachel about it this evening,”
she thought. “There's no use reasoning with Anne now. She's too worked up and I've
an idea she can be awful stubborn if she takes the notion. Far as I can make out from her
story, Mr. Phillips has been carrying matters with a rather high hand. But it would never
do to say so to her. I'll just talk it over with Rachel. She's sent ten children to
school and she ought to know something about it. She'll have heard the whole story, too,
by this time.”
Marilla found Mrs. Lynde knitting quilts as industriously and cheerfully as usual.
“I suppose you know what I've come about,” she said, a little shamefacedly.
Mrs. Rachel nodded.
“About Anne's fuss in school, I reckon,” she said. “Tillie Boulter was in on her
way home from school and told me about it.”
“I don't know what to do with her,” said Marilla. “She declares she won't
go back to school. I never saw a child so worked up. I've been expecting trouble ever
since she started to school. I knew things were going too smooth to last. She's so
high strung. What would you advise, Rachel?”
“Well, since you've asked my advice, Marilla,” said Mrs. Lynde amiably—Mrs. Lynde dearly
loved to be asked for advice—“I'd just humor her a little at first, that's what
I'd do. It's my belief that Mr. Phillips was in the wrong. Of course, it doesn't
do to say so to the children, you know. And of course he did right to punish her yesterday
for giving way to temper. But today it was different. The others who were late should
have been punished as well as Anne, that's what. And I don't believe in making the
girls sit with the boys for punishment. It isn't modest. Tillie Boulter was real indignant.
She took Anne's part right through and said all the scholars did too. Anne seems real
popular among them, somehow. I never thought she'd take with them so well.”
“Then you really think I'd better let her stay home,” said Marilla in amazement.
“Yes. That is I wouldn't say school to her again until she said it herself. Depend
upon it, Marilla, she'll cool off in a week or so and be ready enough to go back of her
own accord, that's what, while, if you were to make her go back right off, dear knows
what freak or tantrum she'd take next and make more trouble than ever. The less fuss
made the better, in my opinion. She won't miss much by not going to school, as far as
that goes. Mr. Phillips isn't any good at all as a teacher. The order he keeps is scandalous,
that's what, and he neglects the young fry and puts all his time on those big scholars
he's getting ready for Queen's. He'd never have got the school for another year
if his uncle hadn't been a trustee—the trustee, for he just leads the other two around
by the nose, that's what. I declare, I don't know what education in this Island is coming
to.”
Mrs. Rachel shook her head, as much as to say if she were only at the head of the educational
system of the Province things would be much better managed.
Marilla took Mrs. Rachel's advice and not another word was said to Anne about going
back to school. She learned her lessons at home, did her chores, and played with Diana
in the chilly purple autumn twilights; but when she met Gilbert Blythe on the road or
encountered him in Sunday school she passed him by with an icy contempt that was no whit
thawed by his evident desire to appease her. Even Diana's efforts as a peacemaker were
of no avail. Anne had evidently made up her mind to hate Gilbert Blythe to the end of
life.
As much as she hated Gilbert, however, did she love Diana, with all the love of her passionate
little heart, equally intense in its likes and dislikes. One evening Marilla, coming
in from the orchard with a basket of apples, found Anne sitting along by the east window
in the twilight, crying bitterly.
“Whatever's the matter now, Anne?” she asked.
“It's about Diana,” sobbed Anne luxuriously. “I love Diana so, Marilla. I cannot ever
live without her. But I know very well when we grow up that Diana will get married and
go away and leave me. And oh, what shall I do? I hate her husband—I just hate him furiously.
I've been imagining it all out—the wedding and everything—Diana dressed in snowy garments,
with a veil, and looking as beautiful and regal as a queen; and me the bridesmaid, with
a lovely dress too, and puffed sleeves, but with a breaking heart hid beneath my smiling
face. And then bidding Diana goodbye-e-e—” Here Anne broke down entirely and wept with
increasing bitterness.
Marilla turned quickly away to hide her twitching face; but it was no use; she collapsed on
the nearest chair and burst into such a hearty and unusual peal of laughter that Matthew,
crossing the yard outside, halted in amazement. When had he heard Marilla laugh like that
before?
“Well, Anne Shirley,” said Marilla as soon as she could speak, “if you must borrow
trouble, for pity's sake borrow it handier home. I should think you had an imagination,
sure enough.”
CHAPTER XVI. Diana Is Invited to Tea with Tragic Results
OCTOBER was a beautiful month at Green Gables, when the birches in the hollow turned as golden
as sunshine and the maples behind the orchard were royal crimson and the wild cherry trees
along the lane put on the loveliest shades of dark red and bronzy green, while the fields
sunned themselves in aftermaths.
Anne reveled in the world of color about her.
“Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full
of gorgeous boughs, “I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would
be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it? Look at these
maple branches. Don't they give you a thrill—several thrills? I'm going to decorate my room with
them.”
“Messy things,” said Marilla, whose aesthetic sense was not noticeably developed. “You
clutter up your room entirely too much with out-of-doors stuff, Anne. Bedrooms were made
to sleep in.”
“Oh, and dream in too, Marilla. And you know one can dream so much better in a room
where there are pretty things. I'm going to put these boughs in the old blue jug and
set them on my table.”
“Mind you don't drop leaves all over the stairs then. I'm going on a meeting of the
Aid Society at Carmody this afternoon, Anne, and I won't likely be home before dark.
You'll have to get Matthew and Jerry their supper, so mind you don't forget to put
the tea to draw until you sit down at the table as you did last time.”
“It was dreadful of me to forget,” said Anne apologetically, “but that was the afternoon
I was trying to think of a name for Violet Vale and it crowded other things out. Matthew
was so good. He never scolded a bit. He put the tea down himself and said we could wait
awhile as well as not. And I told him a lovely fairy story while we were waiting, so he didn't
find the time long at all. It was a beautiful fairy story, Marilla. I forgot the end of
it, so I made up an end for it myself and Matthew said he couldn't tell where the
join came in.”
“Matthew would think it all right, Anne, if you took a notion to get up and have dinner
in the middle of the night. But you keep your wits about you this time. And—I don't
really know if I'm doing right—it may make you more addlepated than ever—but you
can ask Diana to come over and spend the afternoon with you and have tea here.”
“Oh, Marilla!” Anne clasped her hands. “How perfectly lovely! You are able to imagine
things after all or else you'd never have understood how I've longed for that very
thing. It will seem so nice and grown-uppish. No fear of my forgetting to put the tea to
draw when I have company. Oh, Marilla, can I use the rosebud spray tea set?”
“No, indeed! The rosebud tea set! Well, what next? You know I never use that except
for the minister or the Aids. You'll put down the old brown tea set. But you can open
the little yellow crock of cherry preserves. It's time it was being used anyhow—I believe
it's beginning to work. And you can cut some fruit cake and have some of the cookies
and snaps.”
“I can just imagine myself sitting down at the head of the table and pouring out the
tea,” said Anne, shutting her eyes ecstatically. “And asking Diana if she takes sugar! I
know she doesn't but of course I'll ask her just as if I didn't know. And then pressing
her to take another piece of fruit cake and another helping of preserves. Oh, Marilla,
it's a wonderful sensation just to think of it. Can I take her into the spare room
to lay off her hat when she comes? And then into the parlor to sit?”
“No. The sitting room will do for you and your company. But there's a bottle half
full of raspberry cordial that was left over from the church social the other night. It's
on the second shelf of the sitting-room closet and you and Diana can have it if you like,
and a cooky to eat with it along in the afternoon, for I daresay Matthew 'll be late coming
in to tea since he's hauling potatoes to the vessel.”
Anne flew down to the hollow, past the Dryad's Bubble and up the spruce path to Orchard Slope,
to ask Diana to tea. As a result just after Marilla had driven off to Carmody, Diana came
over, dressed in her second-best dress and looking exactly as it is proper to look when
asked out to tea. At other times she was wont to run into the kitchen without knocking;
but now she knocked primly at the front door. And when Anne, dressed in her second best,
as primly opened it, both little girls shook hands as gravely as if they had never met
before. This unnatural solemnity lasted until after Diana had been taken to the east gable
to lay off her hat and then had sat for ten minutes in the sitting room, toes in