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chapter i.mrs. rachel lynde is surprised mrs. rachel lynde lived just where theavonlea 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 anintricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with darksecrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached lynde's hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, fornot even a brook could run past mrs. rachel lynde's door without due regard for decencyand decorum; it probably was conscious that
mrs. rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything thatpassed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out ofplace she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and whereforesthereof. there are plenty of people in avonlea andout of it, who can attend closely to their neighbor's business by dint of neglectingtheir own; but mrs. rachel lynde was one of those capable creatures who can manage their own concerns and those of other folksinto the bargain. she was a notable housewife; her work wasalways 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 missionsauxiliary. yet with all this mrs. rachel foundabundant 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 themain road that crossed the hollow and wound up the steep red hill beyond. since avonlea occupied a little triangularpeninsula 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-seeingeye. she was sitting there one afternoon inearly june. the sun was coming in at the window warmand 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 whomavonlea people called "rachel lynde's husband"--was sowing his late turnip seedon the hill field beyond the barn; and matthew cuthbert ought to have been sowing
his on the big red brook field away over bygreen gables. mrs. rachel knew that he ought because shehad heard him tell peter morrison the evening before in william j. blair's store over at carmody that he meantto sow his turnip seed the next afternoon. peter had asked him, of course, for matthewcuthbert had never been known to volunteer information about anything in his wholelife. and yet here was matthew cuthbert, at half-past three on the afternoon of a busy day, placidly driving over the hollow and up thehill; moreover, he wore a white collar and his best suit of clothes, which was plain
proof that he was going out of avonlea; andhe had the buggy and the sorrel mare, which betokened that he was going a considerabledistance. now, where was matthew cuthbert going andwhy 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 goodguess as to both questions. but matthew so rarely went from home thatit must be something pressing and unusual which was taking him; he was the shyest manalive and hated to have to go among strangers or to any place where he mighthave to talk. matthew, dressed up with a white collar anddriving in a buggy, was something that
didn't happen often. mrs. rachel, ponder as she might, couldmake nothing of it and her afternoon's enjoyment was spoiled. "i'll just step over to green gables aftertea and find out from marilla where he's gone and why," the worthy woman finallyconcluded. "he doesn't generally go to town this timeof year and he never visits; if he'd run out of turnip seed he wouldn't dress up andtake the buggy to go for more; he wasn't driving fast enough to be going for adoctor. yet something must have happened since lastnight to start him off.
i'm clean puzzled, that's what, and i won'tknow a minute's peace of mind or conscience until i know what has taken matthewcuthbert 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 cuthbertslived was a scant quarter of a mile up the road from lynde's hollow. to be sure, the long lane made it a gooddeal further. matthew cuthbert's father, as shy andsilent as his son after him, had got as far away as he possibly could from his fellowmen without actually retreating into the woods when he founded his homestead.
green gables was built at the furthest edgeof his cleared land and there it was to this day, barely visible from the main roadalong which all the other avonlea houses were so sociably situated. mrs. rachel lynde did not call living insuch a place living at all. "it's just staying, that's what," she saidas she stepped along the deep-rutted, grassy lane bordered with wild rose bushes. "it's no wonder matthew and marilla areboth a little odd, living away back here by themselves. trees aren't much company, though dearknows if they were there'd be enough of
them.i'd ruther look at people. to be sure, they seem contented enough; butthen, i suppose, they're used to it. a body can get used to anything, even tobeing hanged, as the irishman said." with this mrs. rachel stepped out of thelane into the backyard of green gables. very green and neat and precise was thatyard, set about on one side with great patriarchal willows and the other with primlombardies. 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 thatmarilla cuthbert swept that yard over as
often as she swept her house. one could have eaten a meal off the groundwithout overbrimming 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 cheerfulapartment--or would have been cheerful if it had not been so painfully clean as togive it something of the appearance of an unused parlor. its windows looked east and west; throughthe west one, looking out on the back yard, came a flood of mellow june sunlight; butthe east one, whence you got a glimpse of
the bloom white cherry-trees in the left orchard and nodding, slender birches downin the hollow by the brook, was greened over by a tangle of vines. here sat marilla cuthbert, when she sat atall, always slightly distrustful of sunshine, which seemed to her too dancingand irresponsible a thing for a world which was meant to be taken seriously; and here she sat now, knitting, and the table behindher was laid for supper. mrs. rachel, before she had fairly closedthe door, had taken a mental note of everything that was on that table.
there were three plates laid, so thatmarilla must be expecting some one home with matthew to tea; but the dishes wereeveryday dishes and there was only crab- apple preserves and one kind of cake, so that the expected company could not be anyparticular company. yet what of matthew's white collar and thesorrel mare? mrs. rachel was getting fairly dizzy withthis 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 namemight be called friendship existed and always had existed between marilla cuthbertand mrs. rachel, in spite of--or perhaps because of--their dissimilarity. marilla was a tall, thin woman, with anglesand without curves; her dark hair showed some gray streaks and was always twisted upin a hard little knot behind with two wire hairpins stuck aggressively through it. she looked like a woman of narrowexperience and rigid conscience, which she was; but there was a saving something abouther mouth which, if it had been ever so
slightly developed, might have beenconsidered 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 thedoctor's." marilla's lips twitched understandingly. she had expected mrs. rachel up; she hadknown that the sight of matthew jaunting off so unaccountably would be too much forher neighbor's curiosity. "oh, no, i'm quite well although i had abad headache yesterday," she said. "matthew went to bright river.
we're getting a little boy from an orphanasylum in nova scotia and he's coming on the train tonight." if marilla had said that matthew had goneto bright river to meet a kangaroo from australia mrs. rachel could not have beenmore astonished. she was actually stricken dumb for fiveseconds. it was unsupposable that marilla was makingfun of her, but mrs. rachel was almost forced to suppose it. "are you in earnest, marilla?" she demandedwhen voice returned to her. "yes, of course," said marilla, as ifgetting boys from orphan asylums in nova
scotia were part of the usual spring workon any well-regulated avonlea farm instead of being an unheard of innovation. mrs. rachel felt that she had received asevere mental jolt. she thought in exclamation points.a boy! marilla and matthew cuthbert of all peopleadopting a boy! from an orphan asylum!well, the world was certainly turning upside down! she would be surprised at nothing afterthis! nothing!"what on earth put such a notion into your
head?" she demanded disapprovingly. this had been done without her advice beingasked, and must perforce be disapproved. "well, we've been thinking about it forsome time--all winter in fact," returned marilla. "mrs. alexander spencer was up here one daybefore christmas and she said she was going to get a little girl from the asylum overin hopeton in the spring. her cousin lives there and mrs. spencer hasvisited here and knows all about it. so matthew and i have talked it over offand 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 tobe to get hired help. there's never anybody to be had but thosestupid, half-grown little french boys; and as soon as you do get one broke into yourways and taught something he's up and off to the lobster canneries or the states. at first matthew suggested getting a homeboy. but i said 'no' flat to that. 'they may be all right--i'm not sayingthey'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 sleepsounder 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 wesent her word by richard spencer's folks at carmody to bring us a smart, likely boy ofabout ten or eleven. we decided that would be the best age--oldenough to be of some use in doing chores
right off and young enough to be trained upproper. we mean to give him a good home andschooling. we had a telegram from mrs. alexanderspencer today--the mail-man brought it from the station--saying they were coming on thefive-thirty train tonight. so matthew went to bright river to meethim. mrs. spencer will drop him off there.of course she goes on to white sands station herself." mrs. rachel prided herself on alwaysspeaking her mind; she proceeded to speak it now, having adjusted her mental attitudeto this amazing piece of news.
"well, marilla, i'll just tell you plainthat 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 yourhouse and home and you don't know a single thing about him nor what his disposition islike nor what sort of parents he had nor how he's likely to turn out. why, it was only last week i read in thepaper how a man and his wife up west of the island took a boy out of an orphan asylumand he set fire to the house at night--set it on purpose, marilla--and nearly burntthem to a crisp in their beds. and i know another case where an adoptedboy 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 athing, that's what." this job's comforting seemed neither tooffend 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 onanything that when he does i always feel
it's my duty to give in. and as for the risk, there's risks inpretty near everything a body does in this world. there's risks in people's having childrenof 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 fromengland 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 heburns green gables down or puts strychnine in the well--i heard of a case over in newbrunswick where an orphan asylum child did that and the whole family died in fearfulagonies. only, it was a girl in that instance." "well, we're not getting a girl," saidmarilla, as if poisoning wells were a purely feminine accomplishment and not tobe dreaded in the case of a boy. "i'd never dream of taking a girl to bringup. i wonder at mrs. alexander spencer fordoing it.
but there, she wouldn't shrink fromadopting 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 twohours at least before his arrival she concluded to go up the road to robertbell's and tell the news. it would certainly make a sensation secondto none, and mrs. rachel dearly loved to make a sensation. so she took herself away, somewhat tomarilla's relief, for the latter felt her doubts and fears reviving under theinfluence of mrs. rachel's pessimism.
"well, of all things that ever were or willbe!" 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 andno mistake. matthew and marilla don't know anythingabout children and they'll expect him to be wiser and steadier that his owngrandfather, if so be's he ever had a grandfather, which is doubtful. it seems uncanny to think of a child atgreen gables somehow; there's never been one there, for matthew and marilla weregrown up when the new house was built--if
they ever were children, which is hard tobelieve when one looks at them. i wouldn't be in that orphan's shoes foranything. my, but i pity him, that's what." so said mrs. rachel to the wild rose bushesout of the fulness of her heart; but if she could have seen the child who was waitingpatiently at the bright river station at that very moment her pity would have beenstill deeper and more profound. > chapter ii.matthew cuthbert is surprised matthew cuthbert and the sorrel mare joggedcomfortably over the eight miles to bright
river. it was a pretty road, running along betweensnug farmsteads, with now and again a bit of balsamy fir wood to drive through or ahollow where wild plums hung out their filmy bloom. the air was sweet with the breath of manyapple orchards and the meadows sloped away in the distance to horizon mists of pearland purple; while "the little birds sang as if it werethe one day of summer in all the year." matthew enjoyed the drive after his ownfashion, except during the moments when he met women and had to nod to them--for inprince edward island you are supposed to
nod to all and sundry you meet on the roadwhether you know them or not. matthew dreaded all women except marillaand mrs. rachel; he had an uncomfortable feeling that the mysterious creatures weresecretly laughing at him. he may have been quite right in thinkingso, for he was an odd-looking personage, with an ungainly figure and long iron-grayhair that touched his stooping shoulders, and a full, soft brown beard which he hadworn ever since he was twenty. in fact, he had looked at twenty very muchas he looked at sixty, lacking a little of the grayness. when he reached bright river there was nosign of any train; he thought he was too
early, so he tied his horse in the yard ofthe small bright river hotel and went over to the station house. the long platform was almost deserted; theonly living creature in sight being a girl who was sitting on a pile of shingles atthe 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 failedto notice the tense rigidity and expectation of her attitude and expression. she was sitting there waiting for somethingor somebody and, since sitting and waiting
was the only thing to do just then, she satand waited with all her might and main. matthew encountered the stationmasterlocking up the ticket office preparatory to going home for supper, and asked him if thefive-thirty train would soon be along. "the five-thirty train has been in and gonehalf 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 shepreferred to stay outside. 'there was more scope for imagination,' shesaid.
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 himover 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 herfrom 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 matthewhelplessly, 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, andthe unfortunate matthew was left to do that which was harder for him than bearding alion in its den--walk up to a girl--a
strange girl--an orphan girl--and demand ofher why she wasn't a boy. matthew groaned in spirit as he turnedabout and shuffled gently down the platform towards her. she had been watching him ever since he hadpassed her and she had her eyes on him now. matthew was not looking at her and wouldnot have seen what she was really like if he had been, but an ordinary observer wouldhave seen this: a child of about eleven, garbed in a very short, very tight, veryugly dress of yellowish-gray wincey. she wore a faded brown sailor hat andbeneath the hat, extending down her back, were two braids of very thick, decidedlyred hair.
her face was small, white and thin, alsomuch freckled; her mouth was large and so were her eyes, which looked green in somelights and moods and gray in others. so far, the ordinary observer; anextraordinary 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 broadand full; in short, our discerning extraordinary observer might have concludedthat no commonplace soul inhabited the body of this stray woman-child of whom shymatthew cuthbert was so ludicrously afraid. matthew, however, was spared the ordeal ofspeaking first, for as soon as she
concluded that he was coming to her shestood up, grasping with one thin brown hand the handle of a shabby, old-fashionedcarpet-bag; the other she held out to him. "i suppose you are mr. matthew cuthbert ofgreen 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 thethings that might have happened to prevent you. i had made up my mind that if you didn'tcome 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 belovely to sleep in a wild cherry-tree all white with bloom in the moonshine, don'tyou think? you could imagine you were dwelling inmarble halls, couldn't you? and i was quite sure you would come for mein the morning, if you didn't to-night." matthew had taken the scrawny little handawkwardly in his; then and there he decided what to do. he could not tell this child with theglowing eyes that there had been a mistake; he would take her home and let marilla dothat. she couldn't be left at bright riveranyhow, no matter what mistake had been
made, so all questions and explanationsmight 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 respondedcheerfully. "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 certainway the handle pulls out--so i'd better keep it because i know the exact knack ofit.
it's an extremely old carpet-bag. oh, i'm very glad you've come, even if itwould 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 tolive 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 inan 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 totalk 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 asylumpeople. but there is so little scope for theimagination in an asylum--only just in the other orphans. it was pretty interesting to imagine thingsabout them--to imagine that perhaps the
girl who sat next to you was really thedaughter of a belted earl, who had been stolen away from her parents in her infancy by a cruel nurse who died before she couldconfess. i used to lie awake at nights and imaginethings like that, because i didn't have time in the day. i guess that's why i'm so thin--i amdreadful 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 stoppedtalking, partly because she was out of
breath and partly because they had reachedthe buggy. not another word did she say until they hadleft the village and were driving down a steep little hill, the road part of whichhad been cut so deeply into the soft soil, that the banks, fringed with blooming wild cherry-trees and slim white birches, wereseveral feet above their heads. the child put out her hand and broke off abranch 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 thinkof?" she asked.
"well now, i dunno," said matthew. "why, a bride, of course--a bride all inwhite with a lovely misty veil. i've never seen one, but i can imagine whatshe would look like. i don't ever expect to be a bride myself. i'm so homely nobody will ever want tomarry 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 awhite dress. that is my highest ideal of earthly bliss.i just love pretty clothes.
and i've never had a pretty dress in mylife that i can remember--but of course it's all the more to look forward to, isn'tit? and then i can imagine that i'm dressedgorgeously. this morning when i left the asylum i feltso 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 theasylum. some people said it was because he couldn'tsell it, but i'd rather believe that it was out of the kindness of his heart, wouldn'tyou?
when we got on the train i felt as ifeverybody must be looking at me and pitying me. but i just went to work and imagined that ihad on the most beautiful pale blue silk dress--because when you are imagining youmight as well imagine something worth while--and a big hat all flowers and nodding plumes, and a gold watch, and kidgloves and boots. i felt cheered up right away and i enjoyedmy trip to the island with all my might. i wasn't a bit sick coming over in theboat. neither was mrs. spencer although shegenerally 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'sa mercy i did prowl, isn't it? and i wanted to see everything that was tobe seen on that boat, because i didn't know whether i'd ever have another opportunity. oh, there are a lot more cherry-trees allin 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 islandwas the prettiest place in the world, and i used to imagine i was living here, but inever really expected i would. it's delightful when your imaginations cometrue, isn't it? but those red roads are so funny. when we got into the train at charlottetownand the red roads began to flash past i asked mrs. spencer what made them red andshe 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 thousandalready. i suppose i had, too, but how you going tofind 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 findout sometime. isn't it splendid to think of all thethings 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 weknow 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, wasenjoying himself. like most quiet folks he liked talkativepeople when they were willing to do the talking themselves and did not expect himto keep up his end of it. but he had never expected to enjoy thesociety of a little girl. women were bad enough in all conscience,but little girls were worse. he detested the way they had of sidlingpast him timidly, with sidewise glances, as if they expected him to gobble them up at amouthful if they ventured to say a word.
that was the avonlea type of well-bredlittle girl. but this freckled witch was very different,and although he found it rather difficult for his slower intelligence to keep up withher 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 alongtogether fine. it's such a relief to talk when one wantsto and not be told that children should be seen and not heard.
i've had that said to me a million times ifi have once. and people laugh at me because i use bigwords. but if you have big ideas you have to usebig words to express them, haven't you?" "well now, that seems reasonable," saidmatthew. "mrs. spencer said that my tongue must behung in the middle. but it isn't--it's firmly fastened at oneend. mrs. spencer said your place was namedgreen 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 theasylum, only a few poor weeny-teeny things out in front with little whitewashed cageythings about them. they just looked like orphans themselves,those trees did. it used to make me want to cry to look atthem. i used to say to them, 'oh, you poor littlethings! if you were out in a great big woods withother trees all around you and little mosses and junebells growing over yourroots 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 thismorning. you do get so attached to things like that,don't you? is there a brook anywhere near greengables? 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 happybecause--well, what color would you call this?" she twitched one of her long glossy braidsover her thin shoulder and held it up before matthew's eyes. matthew was not used to deciding on thetints 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 asigh that seemed to come from her very toes and to exhale forth all the sorrows of theages. "yes, it's red," she said resignedly. "now you see why i can't be perfectlyhappy. nobody could who has red hair. i don't mind the other things so much--thefreckles 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 aglorious black, black as the raven's wing.' but all the time i know it is just plainred and it breaks my heart. it will be my lifelong sorrow. i read of a girl once in a novel who had alifelong sorrow but it wasn't red hair. her hair was pure gold rippling back fromher alabaster brow. what is an alabaster brow? i never could find out.can you tell me?" "well now, i'm afraid i can't," saidmatthew, who was getting a little dizzy.
he felt as he had once felt in his rashyouth when another boy had enticed him on the merry-go-round at a picnic. "well, whatever it was it must have beensomething 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," confessedmatthew ingenuously. "i have, often. which would you rather be if you had thechoice--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 anythingastonishing. they had simply rounded a curve in the roadand found themselves in the "avenue."
the "avenue," so called by the newbridgepeople, was a stretch of road four or five hundred yards long, completely arched overwith huge, wide-spreading apple-trees, planted years ago by an eccentric oldfarmer. overhead was one long canopy of snowyfragrant bloom. below the boughs the air was full of apurple twilight and far ahead a glimpse of painted sunset sky shone like a great rosewindow at the end of a cathedral aisle. its beauty seemed to strike the child dumb. she leaned back in the buggy, her thinhands clasped before her, her face lifted rapturously to the white splendor above.
even when they had passed out and weredriving down the long slope to newbridge she never moved or spoke. still with rapt face she gazed afar intothe sunset west, with eyes that saw visions trooping splendidly across that glowingbackground. through newbridge, a bustling littlevillage where dogs barked at them and small boys hooted and curious faces peered fromthe windows, they drove, still in silence. when three more miles had dropped awaybehind them the child had not spoken. she could keep silence, it was evident, asenergetically as she could talk. "i guess you're feeling pretty tired andhungry," matthew ventured to say at last,
accounting for her long visitation ofdumbness with the only reason he could think of. "but we haven't very far to go now--onlyanother mile." she came out of her reverie with a deepsigh and looked at him with the dreamy gaze of a soul that had been wondering afar,star-led. "oh, mr. cuthbert," she whispered, "thatplace we came through--that white place-- what was it?" "well now, you must mean the avenue," saidmatthew after a few moments' profound reflection."it is a kind of pretty place."
"pretty? oh, pretty doesn't seem the right word touse. nor beautiful, either.they don't go far enough. oh, it was wonderful--wonderful. it's the first thing i ever saw thatcouldn't be improved upon by imagination. it just satisfies me here"--she put onehand 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 iever had."
"i have it lots of time--whenever i seeanything royally beautiful. but they shouldn't call that lovely placethe avenue. there is no meaning in a name like that. they should call it--let me see--the whiteway of delight. isn't that a nice imaginative name? when i don't like the name of a place or aperson i always imagine a new one and always think of them so. there was a girl at the asylum whose namewas hepzibah jenkins, but i always imagined her as rosalia devere.
other people may call that place theavenue, 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 pleasantthings end. something still pleasanter may come after,but you can never be sure. and it's so often the case that it isn'tpleasanter. 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 likea river so long and winding was it. a bridge spanned it midway and from thereto its lower end, where an amber-hued belt of sand-hills shut it in from the dark bluegulf beyond, the water was a glory of many shifting hues--the most spiritual shadings of crocus and rose and ethereal green, withother elusive tintings for which no name has ever been found.
above the bridge the pond ran up intofringing groves of fir and maple and lay all darkly translucent in their waveringshadows. here and there a wild plum leaned out fromthe bank like a white-clad girl tip-toeing to her own reflection. from the marsh at the head of the pond camethe clear, mournfully-sweet chorus of the frogs. there was a little gray house peeringaround a white apple orchard on a slope beyond and, although it was not yet quitedark, 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 ofshining 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 thecucumber beds. i hate the look of them."
"oh, i don't think that can be exactly thesame kind of a thrill. do you think it can? there doesn't seem to be much connectionbetween 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 therein 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 roundby the road, so it's near half a mile
further.""has mr. barry any little girls? well, not so very little either--about mysize." "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 aboutit, seems to me. i'd ruther jane or mary or some sensiblename like that. but when diana was born there was aschoolmaster boarding there and they gave him the naming of her and he called herdiana."
"i wish there had been a schoolmaster likethat 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 aswe 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 wheni think we're getting near the middle. because, you see, if the bridge did crumpleup 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 atme." when they had driven up the further hilland 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 partiallyraised 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 thelandscape 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 along, 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 theleft, far back from the road, dimly white with blossoming trees in the twilight ofthe surrounding woods. over it, in the stainless southwest sky, agreat 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'sback 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 washome. oh, it seems as if i must be in a dream. do you know, my arm must be black and bluefrom the elbow up, for i've pinched myself so many times today. every little while a horrible sickeningfeeling would come over me and i'd be so afraid it was all a dream. then i'd pinch myself to see if it wasreal--until suddenly i remembered that even supposing it was only a dream i'd better goon 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 andnot he who would have to tell this waif of the world that the home she longed for wasnot to be hers after all. they drove over lynde's hollow, where itwas already quite dark, but not so dark that mrs. rachel could not see them fromher window vantage, and up the hill and into the long lane of green gables. by the time they arrived at the housematthew was shrinking from the approaching revelation with an energy he did notunderstand.
it was not of marilla or himself he wasthinking of the trouble this mistake was probably going to make for them, but of thechild's disappointment. when he thought of that rapt light beingquenched in her eyes he had an uncomfortable feeling that he was going toassist at murdering something--much the same feeling that came over him when he had to kill a lamb or calf or any otherinnocent little creature. the yard was quite dark as they turned intoit and the poplar leaves were rustling silkily all round it. "listen to the trees talking in theirsleep," she whispered, as he lifted her to
the ground."what nice dreams they must have!" then, holding tightly to the carpet-bagwhich contained "all her worldly goods," she followed him into the house. chapter iii.marilla cuthbert is surprised marilla came briskly forward as matthewopened the door. but when her eyes fell of the odd littlefigure 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?" sheejaculated.
"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," insistedmarilla. "we sent word to mrs. spencer to bring aboy." "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 remainedsilent, her eyes roving from one to the other, all the animation fading out of herface. suddenly she seemed to grasp the fullmeaning of what had been said. dropping her precious carpet-bag she sprangforward 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 wantme. 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 crystormily. marilla and matthew looked at each otherdeprecatingly 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 soabout 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 orphanand had come to a place you thought was going to be home and found that they didn'twant you because you weren't a boy. oh, this is the most tragical thing thatever happened to me!" something like a reluctant smile, ratherrusty 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?" shesaid 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 docall me cordelia. it can't matter much to you what you callme if i'm only going to be here a little while, can it?and anne is such an unromantic name." "unromantic fiddlesticks!" said theunsympathetic 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," explainedanne, "only i like cordelia better. i've always imagined that my name wascordelia--at least, i always have of late years.
when i was young i used to imagine it wasgeraldine, but i like cordelia better now. but if you call me anne please call me annespelled with an e." "what difference does it make how it'sspelled?" 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 youalways 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 ane 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 youwanted 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 tomatthew, "why didn't you tell me at the
station that you didn't want me and leaveme there? if i hadn't seen the white way of delightand 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 someconversation 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 overbesides you?" continued marilla when matthew had gone out."she brought lily jones for herself.
lily is only five years old and she is verybeautiful and had nut-brown hair. if i was very beautiful and had nut-brownhair 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 butterand pecked at the crab-apple preserve out
of the little scalloped glass dish by herplate. she did not really make any headway at all. "you're not eating anything," said marillasharply, 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 whatit's like. it's very uncomfortable feeling indeed. when you try to eat a lump comes right upin your throat and you can't swallow anything, not even if it was a chocolatecaramel. i had one chocolate caramel once two yearsago and it was simply delicious. i've often dreamed since then that i had alot 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 ican't eat.
everything is extremely nice, but still icannot eat." "i guess she's tired," said matthew, whohadn't spoken since his return from the barn."best put her to bed, marilla." marilla had been wondering where anneshould be put to bed. she had prepared a couch in the kitchenchamber for the desired and expected boy. but, although it was neat and clean, it didnot seem quite the thing to put a girl there somehow. but the spare room was out of the questionfor such a stray waif, so there remained only the east gable room.
marilla lighted a candle and told anne tofollow her, which anne spiritlessly did, taking her hat and carpet-bag from the halltable as she passed. the hall was fearsomely clean; the littlegable 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 anasylum, 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 asin 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 thecandle. i daren't trust you to put it out yourself.you'd likely set the place on fire." when marilla had gone anne looked aroundher wistfully. the whitewashed walls were so painfullybare and staring that she thought they must
ache over their own bareness. the floor was bare, too, except for a roundbraided 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 aforesaidthree-corner table adorned with a fat, red velvet pin-cushion hard enough to turn thepoint of the most adventurous pin. above it hung a little six-by-eight mirror. midway between table and bed was thewindow, with an icy white muslin frill over
it, and opposite it was the wash-stand. the whole apartment was of a rigidity notto be described in words, but which sent a shiver to the very marrow of anne's bones. with a sob she hastily discarded hergarments, put on the skimpy nightgown and sprang into bed where she burrowed facedownward into the pillow and pulled the clothes over her head. when marilla came up for the light variousskimpy articles of raiment scattered most untidily over the floor and a certaintempestuous appearance of the bed were the only indications of any presence save herown.
she deliberately picked up anne's clothes,placed them neatly on a prim yellow chair, and then, taking up the candle, went overto the bed. "good night," she said, a little awkwardly,but not unkindly. anne's white face and big eyes appearedover the bedclothes with a startling suddenness. "how can you call it a good night when youknow 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 andproceeded to wash the supper dishes.
matthew was smoking--a sure sign ofperturbation of mind. he seldom smoked, for marilla set her faceagainst it as a filthy habit; but at certain times and seasons he felt driven toit and them marilla winked at the practice, realizing that a mere man must have somevent for his emotions. "well, this is a pretty kettle of fish,"she said wrathfully. "this is what comes of sending word insteadof going ourselves. richard spencer's folks have twisted thatmessage somehow. one of us will have to drive over and seemrs. spencer tomorrow, that's certain. this girl will have to be sent back to theasylum."
"yes, i suppose so," said matthewreluctantly. "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 whenshe's so set on staying here." "matthew cuthbert, you don't mean to sayyou think we ought to keep her!" marilla's astonishment could not have beengreater if matthew had expressed a predilection for standing on his head. "well, now, no, i suppose not--notexactly," stammered matthew, uncomfortably driven into a corner for his precisemeaning.
"i suppose--we could hardly be expected tokeep her." "i should say not.what good would she be to us?" "we might be some good to her," saidmatthew suddenly and unexpectedly. "matthew cuthbert, i believe that child hasbewitched you! i can see as plain as plain that you wantto keep her." "well now, she's a real interesting littlething," persisted matthew. "you should have heard her talk coming fromthe 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 tosay. i don't want an orphan girl and if i didshe isn't the style i'd pick out. there's something i don't understand abouther. no, she's got to be despatched straight-wayback 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 puttinghis pipe away.
"i'm going to bed." to bed went matthew.and to bed, when she had put her dishes away, went marilla, frowning mostresolutely. 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 andsat up in bed, staring confusedly at the window through which a flood of cheerysunshine was pouring and outside of which something white and feathery waved acrossglimpses of blue sky.
for a moment she could not remember whereshe was. first came a delightful thrill, assomething 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 acherry-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 stifflyand creakily, as if it hadn't been opened for a long time, which was the case; and itstuck so tight that nothing was needed to
hold it up. anne dropped on her knees and gazed outinto 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 stayhere! she would imagine she was.there was scope for imagination here. a huge cherry-tree grew outside, so closethat its boughs tapped against the house, and it was so thick-set with blossoms thathardly a leaf was to be seen. on both sides of the house was a bigorchard, one of apple-trees and one of
cherry-trees, also showered over withblossoms; and their grass was all sprinkled with dandelions. in the garden below were lilac-trees purplewith flowers, and their dizzily sweet fragrance drifted up to the window on themorning wind. below the garden a green field lush withclover sloped down to the hollow where the brook ran and where scores of white birchesgrew, upspringing airily out of an undergrowth suggestive of delightful possibilities in ferns and mosses andwoodsy things generally. beyond it was a hill, green and featherywith spruce and fir; there was a gap in it
where the gray gable end of the littlehouse she had seen from the other side of the lake of shining waters was visible. off to the left were the big barns andbeyond them, away down over green, low- sloping fields, was a sparkling blueglimpse of sea. anne's beauty-loving eyes lingered on itall, taking everything greedily in. she had looked on so many unlovely placesin her life, poor child; but this was as lovely as anything she had ever dreamed. she knelt there, lost to everything but theloveliness 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 saidcurtly. marilla really did not know how to talk tothe child, and her uncomfortable ignorance made her crisp and curt when she did notmean to be. anne stood up and drew a long breath. "oh, isn't it wonderful?" she said, wavingher hand comprehensively at the good world outside. "it's a big tree," said marilla, "and itblooms great, but the fruit don't amount to much never--small and wormy."
"oh, i don't mean just the tree; of courseit's lovely--yes, it's radiantly lovely--it blooms as if it meant it--but i meanteverything, the garden and the orchard and the brook and the woods, the whole big dearworld. don't you feel as if you just loved theworld on a morning like this? and i can hear the brook laughing all theway up here. have you ever noticed what cheerful thingsbrooks are? they're always laughing. even in winter-time i've heard them underthe ice. i'm so glad there's a brook near greengables.
perhaps you think it doesn't make anydifference to me when you're not going to keep me, but it does. i shall always like to remember that thereis a brook at green gables even if i never see it again. if there wasn't a brook i'd be haunted bythe 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 reallyme 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 thatthe 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 aword 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 somepurpose 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 fulfilledall marilla's requirements. as a matter of fact, however, she hadforgotten to turn back the bedclothes. "i'm pretty hungry this morning," sheannounced 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 happenthrough the day, and there's so much scope for imagination. but i'm glad it's not rainy today becauseit'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 sorrowsand imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it's not so nice when youreally come to have them, is it?" "for pity's sake hold your tongue," saidmarilla.
"you talk entirely too much for a littlegirl." thereupon anne held her tongue soobediently and thoroughly that her continued silence made marilla rathernervous, as if in the presence of something not exactly natural. matthew also held his tongue,--but this wasnatural,--so that the meal was a very silent one. as it progressed anne became more and moreabstracted, eating mechanically, with her big eyes fixed unswervingly and unseeinglyon 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 thetable her spirit was far away in some remote airy cloudland, borne aloft on thewings of imagination. who would want such a child about theplace? yet matthew wished to keep her, of allunaccountable things! marilla felt that he wanted it just as muchthis morning as he had the night before, and that he would go on wanting it. that was matthew's way--take a whim intohis head and cling to it with the most amazing silent persistency--a persistencyten times more potent and effectual in its very silence than if he had talked it out.
when the meal was ended anne came out ofher reverie and offered to wash the dishes. "can you wash dishes right?" asked marilladistrustfully. "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 morechildren 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 seemedto like it. i felt that he was a kindred spirit as soonas ever i saw him." "you're both queer enough, if that's whatyou mean by kindred spirits," said marilla with a sniff."yes, you may wash the dishes. take plenty of hot water, and be sure youdry them well. i've got enough to attend to this morningfor 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'sto be done with you. after you've finished the dishes go up-stairs and make your bed." anne washed the dishes deftly enough, asmarilla who kept a sharp eye on the process, discerned. later on she made her bed lesssuccessfully, 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 amuseherself until dinner time. anne flew to the door, face alight, eyesglowing.
on the very threshold she stopped short,wheeled about, came back and sat down by the table, light and glow as effectuallyblotted 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 earthlyjoys. "if i can't stay here there is no use in myloving green gables. and if i go out there and get acquaintedwith all those trees and flowers and the orchard and the brook i'll not be able tohelp loving it. it's hard enough now, so i won't make itany harder.
i want to go out so much--everything seemsto be calling to me, 'anne, anne, come out to us. anne, anne, we want a playmate'--but it'sbetter not. there is no use in loving things if youhave to be torn from them, is there? and it's so hard to keep from lovingthings, isn't it? that was why i was so glad when i thought iwas going to live here. i thought i'd have so many things to loveand nothing to hinder me. but that brief dream is over. i am resigned to my fate now, so i don'tthink 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 ageranium?" "oh, i like things to have handles even ifthey are only geraniums.
it makes them seem more like people. how do you know but that it hurts ageranium'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 heardanything to equal her," muttered marilla,
beating a retreat down to the cellar afterpotatoes. "she is kind of interesting as matthewsays. i can feel already that i'm wondering whaton 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 nightover again. i wish he was like other men and would talkthings out. a body could answer back then and argue himinto reason. but what's to be done with a man who justlooks?"
anne had relapsed into reverie, with herchin in her hands and her eyes on the sky, when marilla returned from her cellarpilgrimage. there marilla left her until the earlydinner was on the table. "i suppose i can have the mare and buggythis afternoon, matthew?" said marilla. matthew nodded and looked wistfully atanne. marilla intercepted the look and saidgrimly: "i'm going to drive over to white sands andsettle this thing. i'll take anne with me and mrs. spencerwill probably make arrangements to send her back to nova scotia at once.
i'll set your tea out for you and i'll behome in time to milk the cows." still matthew said nothing and marilla hada sense of having wasted words and breath. there is nothing more aggravating than aman 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 andas they drove slowly through, he said, to nobody in particular as it seemed: "little jerry buote from the creek was herethis morning, and i told him i guessed i'd hire him for the summer."
marilla made no reply, but she hit theunlucky sorrel such a vicious clip with the whip that the fat mare, unused to suchtreatment, whizzed indignantly down the lane at an alarming pace. marilla looked back once as the buggybounced along and saw that aggravating matthew leaning over the gate, lookingwistfully 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 nearlyalways 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 wildrose 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 wasred when she was young, but got to be another color when she grew up?" "no, i don't know as i ever did," saidmarilla 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 buriedhopes.' 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 inmyself," said marilla. "why, because it sounds so nice andromantic, just as if i were a heroine in a book, you know. i am so fond of romantic things, and agraveyard full of buried hopes is about as romantic a thing as one can imagine isn'tit? i'm rather glad i have one. are we going across the lake of shiningwaters today?" "we're not going over barry's pond, ifthat'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 ina picture in my mind, as quick as that! and white sands is a pretty name, too; buti 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 evidentlybent on talking you might as well talk to some purpose by telling me what you knowabout yourself." "oh, what i know about myself isn't reallyworth telling," said anne eagerly.
"if you'll only let me tell you what iimagine 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 hewas 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'tit?" "i guess it doesn't matter what a person'sname is as long as he behaves himself," said marilla, feeling herself called uponto 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'venever been able to believe it. i don't believe a rose would be as nice ifit was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.
i suppose my father could have been a goodman 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 highschool, 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 ofbabies and as poor as church mice. they went to live in a weeny-teeny littleyellow house in bolingbroke. i've never seen that house, but i'veimagined it thousands of times. i think it must have had honeysuckle overthe parlor window and lilacs in the front yard and lilies of the valley just insidethe gate.
yes, and muslin curtains in all thewindows. muslin curtains give a house such an air.i was born in that house. mrs. thomas said i was the homeliest babyshe ever saw, i was so scrawny and tiny and nothing but eyes, but that mother thought iwas perfectly beautiful. i should think a mother would be a betterjudge 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'tlive very long after that, you see. she died of fever when i was just threemonths old.
i do wish she'd lived long enough for me toremember calling her mother. i think it would be so sweet to say'mother,' don't you? and father died four days afterwards fromfever too. that left me an orphan and folks were attheir 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 placesfar 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 beingbrought up by hand that ought to make people who are brought up that way betterthan other people? because whenever i was naughty mrs. thomaswould 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 frombolingbroke 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 oflooking after.
then mr. thomas was killed falling under atrain and his mother offered to take mrs. thomas and the children, but she didn'twant me. mrs. thomas was at her wits' end, so shesaid, what to do with me. then mrs. hammond from up the river camedown and said she'd take me, seeing i was handy with children, and i went up theriver 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 carryingthem about. "i lived up river with mrs. hammond overtwo years, and then mr. hammond died and mrs. hammond broke up housekeeping. she divided her children among herrelatives 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 therefour months until mrs. spencer came." anne finished up with another sigh, ofrelief this time. evidently she did not like talking abouther experiences in a world that had not wanted her. "did you ever go to school?" demandedmarilla, turning the sorrel mare down the shore road."not a great deal. i went a little the last year i stayed withmrs. thomas. when i went up river we were so far from aschool that i couldn't walk it in winter and there was a vacation in summer, so icould only go in the spring and fall.
but of course i went while i was at theasylum. i can read pretty well and i know ever somany pieces of poetry off by heart--'the battle of hohenlinden' and 'edinburgh afterflodden,' 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 acrinkly feeling up and down your back? there is a piece in the fifth reader--'thedownfall of poland'--that is just full of thrills. of course, i wasn't in the fifth reader--iwas 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 hereye. "o-o-o-h," faltered anne. her sensitive little face suddenly flushedscarlet and embarrassment sat on her brow. "oh, they meant to be--i know they meant tobe just as good and kind as possible. and when people mean to be good to you, youdon't mind very much when they're not quite--always.they had a good deal to worry them, you know. it's very trying to have a drunken husband,you see; and it must be very trying to have
twins three times in succession, don't youthink? but i feel sure they meant to be good tome." marilla asked no more questions. anne gave herself up to a silent raptureover the shore road and marilla guided the sorrel abstractedly while she pondereddeeply. pity was suddenly stirring in her heart forthe child. what a starved, unloved life she had had--alife of drudgery and poverty and neglect; for marilla was shrewd enough to readbetween the lines of anne's history and divine the truth.
no wonder she had been so delighted at theprospect of a real home. it was a pity she had to be sent back. what if she, marilla, should indulgematthew'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," thoughtmarilla, "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 andlonesome." on the right hand, scrub firs, theirspirits quite unbroken by long years of tussle with the gulf winds, grew thickly. on the left were the steep red sandstonecliffs, so near the track in places that a mare of less steadiness than the sorrelmight have tried the nerves of the people behind her. down at the base of the cliffs were heapsof 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 pinionsflashing 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 milesaway. i enjoyed every moment of that day, even ifi 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 marysvilleshore. aren't those gulls splendid?would you like to be a gull? i think i would--that is, if i couldn't bea human girl. don't you think it would be nice to wake upat 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 forthe 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 doorwith surprise and welcome mingled on her benevolent face. "dear, dear," she exclaimed, "you're thelast 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, thankyou," said anne smilelessly.
a blight seemed to have descended on her. "i suppose we'll stay a little while torest the mare," said marilla, "but i promised matthew i'd be home early. the fact is, mrs. spencer, there's been aqueer 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 wewanted a boy ten or eleven years old." "marilla cuthbert, you don't say so!" saidmrs. spencer in distress. "why, robert sent word down by his daughternancy and she said you wanted a girl--
didn't she flora jane?" appealing to herdaughter 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 wasfollowing 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 marillaresignedly. "we should have come to you ourselves andnot left an important message to be passed
along by word of mouth in that fashion. anyhow, the mistake has been made and theonly 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. spencerthoughtfully, "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 girlto 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 thoughtprovidence had much to do with the matter. here was an unexpectedly good chance to getthis unwelcome orphan off her hands, and she did not even feel grateful for it. she knew mrs. peter blewett only by sightas 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. peterwas said to be; and discharged servant girls told fearsome tales of her temper andstinginess, and her family of pert, quarrelsome children.
marilla felt a qualm of conscience at thethought 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 upthe lane this blessed minute!" exclaimed mrs. spencer, bustling her guests throughthe 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, withher 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 andher eyes smarted painfully. she was beginning to be afraid she couldn'tkeep the tears back when mrs. spencer returned, flushed and beaming, quitecapable of taking any and every difficulty, physical, mental or spiritual, intoconsideration and settling it out of hand. "it seems there's been a mistake about thislittle girl, mrs. blewett," she said. "i was under the impression that mr. andmiss 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 youwere 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?" shedemanded. "anne shirley," faltered the shrinkingchild, not daring to make any stipulations regarding the spelling thereof, "and i'meleven 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 bestafter all. well, if i take you you'll have to be agood 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 offyour hands, miss cuthbert. the baby's awful fractious, and i'm cleanworn out attending to him. if you like i can take her right home now." marilla looked at anne and softened atsight of the child's pale face with its
look of mute misery--the misery of ahelpless little creature who finds itself once more caught in the trap from which ithad escaped. marilla felt an uncomfortable convictionthat, 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 keepher.
in fact i may say that matthew is disposedto keep her. i just came over to find out how themistake had occurred. i think i'd better take her home again andtalk it over with matthew. i feel that i oughtn't to decide onanything without consulting him. if we make up our mind not to keep herwe'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; thencame a faint flush of hope; here eyes grew deep and bright as morning stars. the child was quite transfigured; and, amoment later, when mrs. spencer and mrs. blewett went out in quest of a recipe thelatter had come to borrow she sprang up and flew across the room to marilla. "oh, miss cuthbert, did you really say thatperhaps 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 thatimagination of yours, anne, if you can't distinguish between what is real and whatisn't," said marilla crossly. "yes, you did hear me say just that and nomore. it isn't decided yet and perhaps we willconclude to let mrs. blewett take you after all. she certainly needs you much more than ido." "i'd rather go back to the asylum than goto live with her," said anne passionately. "she looks exactly like a--like a gimlet."
marilla smothered a smile under theconviction that anne must be reproved for such a speech. "a little girl like you should be ashamedof 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 wantme, 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 prowlingalong it and guessed his motive.
she was prepared for the relief she read inhis face when he saw that she had at least brought back anne back with her. but she said nothing, to him, relative tothe affair, until they were both out in the yard behind the barn milking the cows. then she briefly told him anne's historyand the result of the interview with mrs. spencer. "i wouldn't give a dog i liked to thatblewett woman," said matthew with unusual vim. "i don't fancy her style myself," admittedmarilla, "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'vegot kind of used to it. it seems a sort of duty. i've never brought up a child, especially agirl, 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 maystay." 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," retortedmarilla, "but i'll make it my business to see she's trained to be that. and mind, matthew, you're not to gointerfering with my methods. perhaps an old maid doesn't know much aboutbringing 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 canwithout spoiling her. i kind of think she's one of the sort youcan do anything with if you only get her to love you." marilla sniffed, to express her contemptfor matthew's opinions concerning anything feminine, and walked off to the dairy withthe pails. "i won't tell her tonight that she canstay," 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 sosurprising as that matthew should be at the bottom of it, him that always seemed tohave such a mortal dread of little girls. anyhow, we've decided on the experiment andgoodness only knows what will come of it." chapter vii.anne says her prayers when marilla took anne up to bed that nightshe said stiffly: "now, anne, i noticed last night that youthrew your clothes all about the floor when you took them off. that is a very untidy habit, and i can'tallow it at all.
as soon as you take off any article ofclothing fold it neatly and place it on the chair. i haven't any use at all for little girlswho aren't neat." "i was so harrowed up in my mind last nightthat 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 bein such a hurry to get into bed nice and quiet and imagine things." "you'll have to remember a little better ifyou 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 bigorgan playing. you couldn't quite call it poetry, isuppose, 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 thingnot 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 goodif 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 hairred 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'tbe 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 quiteinteresting, now that i come to think of it.""you must kneel down," said marilla in embarrassment. anne knelt at marilla's knee and looked upgravely. "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 aloneor into the deep, deep, woods, and i'd look up into the sky--up--up--up--into thatlovely 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 childishclassic, "now i lay me down to sleep." but she had, as i have told you, theglimmerings of a sense of humor--which is simply another name for a sense of fitnessof things; and it suddenly occurred to her that that simple little prayer, sacred to white-robed childhood lisping at motherlyknees, was entirely unsuited to this freckled witch of a girl who knew and carednothing bout god's love, since she had never had it translated to her through themedium of human love.
"you're old enough to pray for yourself,anne," she said finally. "just thank god for your blessings and askhim 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 waythe 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 forthe white way of delight and the lake of shining waters and bonny and the snowqueen. i'm really extremely grateful for them.
and that's all the blessings i can think ofjust now to thank thee for. as for the things i want, they're sonumerous that it would take a great deal of time to name them all so i will onlymention the two most important. please let me stay at green gables; andplease let me be good-looking when i grow up. i remain, "yours respectfully, anneshirley. "there, did i do all right?" she askedeagerly, getting up. "i could have made it much more flowery ifi'd had a little more time to think it over."
poor marilla was only preserved fromcomplete collapse by remembering that it was not irreverence, but simply spiritualignorance on the part of anne that was responsible for this extraordinarypetition. she tucked the child up in bed, mentallyvowing that she should be taught a prayer the very next day, and was leaving the roomwith 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 prayershould 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 aclear conscience," said anne, cuddling luxuriously down among her pillows. marilla retreated to the kitchen, set thecandle firmly on the table, and glared at matthew. "matthew cuthbert, it's about time somebodyadopted that child and taught her
something.she's next door to a perfect heathen. will you believe that she never said aprayer in her life till tonight? i'll send her to the manse tomorrow andborrow the peep of the day series, that's what i'll do. and she shall go to sunday-school just assoon 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 worldwithout 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, marilladid not tell anne that she was to stay at green gables until the next afternoon. during the forenoon she kept the child busywith various tasks and watched over her with a keen eye while she did them. by noon she had concluded that anne wassmart and obedient, willing to work and quick to learn; her most seriousshortcoming seemed to be a tendency to fall into daydreams in the middle of a task and forget all about it until such time as shewas sharply recalled to earth by a
reprimand or a catastrophe. when anne had finished washing the dinnerdishes she suddenly confronted marilla with the air and expression of one desperatelydetermined to learn the worst. her thin little body trembled from head tofoot; her face flushed and her eyes dilated until they were almost black; she claspedher hands tightly and said in an imploring voice: "oh, please, miss cuthbert, won't you tellme 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 cleanhot water as i told you to do," said marilla immovably. "just go and do it before you ask any morequestions, 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 anyexcuse for deferring her explanation longer, "i suppose i might as well tellyou. 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 ofbewilderment. "i can't think why.i'm glad as glad can be. oh, glad doesn't seem the right word atall. i was glad about the white way and thecherry 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 excitedand worked up," said marilla disapprovingly. "sit down on that chair and try to calmyourself. i'm afraid you both cry and laugh far tooeasily. yes, you can stay here and we will try todo right by you. you must go to school; but it's only afortnight till vacation so it isn't worth while for you to start before it opensagain 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 justsay marilla," protested anne. "i guess there'll be nothing disrespectfulin it if you're careful to speak respectfully. everybody, young and old, in avonlea callsme marilla except the minister. he says miss cuthbert--when he thinks ofit." "i'd love to call you aunt marilla," saidanne wistfully.
"i've never had an aunt or any relation atall--not even a grandmother. it would make me feel as if i reallybelonged to you. can't i call you aunt marilla?""no. i'm not your aunt and i don't believe incalling 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 fromwhat 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 thingsdifferent from what they really are," retorted marilla. "when the lord puts us in certaincircumstances he doesn't mean for us to imagine them away.and that reminds me. go into the sitting room, anne--be sureyour feet are clean and don't let any flies in--and bring me out the illustrated cardthat's on the mantelpiece. the lord's prayer is on it and you'lldevote 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 anneapologetically, "but then, you see, i'd never had any practice. you couldn't really expect a person to prayvery well the first time she tried, could you? i thought out a splendid prayer after iwent 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 whenthey'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 toobey 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-roomacross the hall; she failed to return; after waiting ten minutes marilla laid downher knitting and marched after her with a she found anne standing motionless before apicture hanging on the wall between the two
windows, with her eyes astar with dreams. the white and green light strained throughapple trees and clustering vines outside fell over the rapt little figure with ahalf-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 justimagining 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'tbelong 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 shejust 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 musthave 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--heredging a little nearer all the time until
she was quite close to him; and then hewould look at her and put his hand on her hair and oh, such a thrill of joy as wouldrun over her! but i wish the artist hadn't painted him sosorrowful looking. all his pictures are like that, if you'venoticed. but i don't believe he could really havelooked so sad or the children would have been afraid of him." "anne," said marilla, wondering why she hadnot 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 itdoesn't sound right to talk so familiarly about such things. and another thing, anne, when i send youafter something you're to bring it at once and not fall into mooning and imaginingbefore pictures. remember that. take that card and come right to thekitchen. now, sit down in the corner and learn thatprayer off by heart." anne set the card up against the jugful ofapple blossoms she had brought in to
decorate the dinner-table--marilla had eyedthat decoration askance, but had said nothing--propped her chin on her hands, and fell to studying it intently for severalsilent minutes. "i like this," she announced at length."it's beautiful. i've heard it before--i heard thesuperintendent of the asylum sunday school say it over once.but i didn't like it then. he had such a cracked voice and he prayedit so mournfully. i really felt sure he thought praying was adisagreeable duty. this isn't poetry, but it makes me feeljust the same way poetry does.
'our father who art in heaven hallowed bethy name.' that is just like a line of music. oh, i'm so glad you thought of making melearn this, miss--marilla." "well, learn it and hold your tongue," saidmarilla shortly. anne tipped the vase of apple blossoms nearenough to bestow a soft kiss on a pink- cupped bud, and then studied diligently forsome moments longer. "marilla," she demanded presently, "do youthink that i shall ever have a bosom friend in avonlea?""a--a what kind of friend?" "a bosom friend--an intimate friend, youknow--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 somany 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 slopeand she's about your age. she's a very nice little girl, and perhapsshe will be a playmate for you when she comes home. she's visiting her aunt over at carmodyjust now. you'll have to be careful how you behaveyourself, though.
mrs. barry is a very particular woman. she won't let diana play with any littlegirl who isn't nice and good." anne looked at marilla through the appleblossoms, 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 theduchess in wonderland, and was firmly convinced that one should be tacked on toevery remark made to a child who was being brought up. but anne waved the moral inconsequentlyaside and seized only on the delightful possibilities before it."oh, i'm so glad she's pretty. next to being beautiful oneself--and that'simpossible in my case--it would be best to have a beautiful bosom friend. when i lived with mrs. thomas she had abookcase in her sitting room with glass
doors. there weren't any books in it; mrs. thomaskept 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 wasslightly intoxicated. but the other was whole and i used topretend that my reflection in it was another little girl who lived in it. i called her katie maurice, and we werevery intimate. i used to talk to her by the hour,especially on sunday, and tell her everything.
katie was the comfort and consolation of mylife. we used to pretend that the bookcase wasenchanted and that if i only knew the spell i could open the door and step right intothe room where katie maurice lived, instead of into mrs. thomas' shelves of preservesand china. and then katie maurice would have taken meby the hand and led me out into a wonderful place, all flowers and sunshine andfairies, and we would have lived there happy for ever after. when i went to live with mrs. hammond itjust broke my heart to leave katie maurice. she felt it dreadfully, too, i know shedid, 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 ifyou didn't talk a bit loud. so i imagined that it was a little girlcalled violetta and we were great friends and i loved her almost as well as i lovedkatie maurice--not quite, but almost, you the night before i went to the asylum isaid good-bye to violetta, and oh, her good-bye came back to me in such sad, sadtones. i had become so attached to her that ihadn't the heart to imagine a bosom friend
at the asylum, even if there had been anyscope 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 livefriend to put such nonsense out of your head. but don't let mrs. barry hear you talkingabout your katie maurices and your violettas or she'll think you tellstories." "oh, i won't.
i couldn't talk of them to everybody--theirmemories are too sacred for that. but i thought i'd like to have you knowabout them. oh, look, here's a big bee just tumbled outof an apple blossom. just think what a lovely place to live--inan apple blossom! fancy going to sleep in it when the windwas rocking it. if i wasn't a human girl i think i'd liketo 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 stoptalking 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--allbut just the last line." "well, never mind, do as i tell you. go to your room and finish learning itwell, 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 upwith flowers. you should have left them on the tree inthe first place."
"i did feel a little that way, too," saidanne. "i kind of felt i shouldn't shorten theirlovely lives by picking them--i wouldn't want to be picked if i were an appleblossom. but the temptation was irresistible. what do you do when you meet with anirresistible temptation?" "anne, did you hear me tell you to go toyour 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 thisroom so that they'll always stay imagined. the floor is covered with a white velvetcarpet with pink roses all over it and there are pink silk curtains at thewindows. the walls are hung with gold and silverbrocade tapestry. the furniture is mahogany.i never saw any mahogany, but it does sound so luxurious. this is a couch all heaped with gorgeoussilken cushions, pink and blue and crimson and gold, and i am reclining gracefully onit. i can see my reflection in that splendidbig mirror hanging on the wall.
i am tall and regal, clad in a gown oftrailing white lace, with a pearl cross on my breast and pearls in my hair. my hair is of midnight darkness and my skinis 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-glassand peered into it. her pointed freckled face and solemn grayeyes peered back at her. "you're only anne of green gables," shesaid earnestly, "and i see you, just as you are looking now, whenever i try to imaginei'm the lady cordelia. but it's a million times nicer to be anneof green gables than anne of nowhere in
particular, isn't it?" she bent forward, kissed her reflectionaffectionately, and betook herself to the open window."dear snow queen, good afternoon. and good afternoon dear birches down in thehollow. and good afternoon, dear gray house up onthe hill. i wonder if diana is to be my bosom friend. i hope she will, and i shall love her verymuch. but i must never quite forget katie mauriceand violetta. they would feel so hurt if i did and i'dhate to hurt anybody's feelings, even a
little bookcase girl's or a little echogirl's. i must be careful to remember them and sendthem a kiss every day." anne blew a couple of airy kisses from herfingertips past the cherry blossoms and then, with her chin in her hands, driftedluxuriously out on a sea of daydreams. chapter ix.mrs. rachel lynde is properly horrified anne had been a fortnight at green gablesbefore mrs. lynde arrived to inspect her. mrs. rachel, to do her justice, was not toblame for this. a severe and unseasonable attack of grippehad confined that good lady to her house ever since the occasion of her last visitto green gables.
mrs. rachel was not often sick and had awell-defined contempt for people who were; but grippe, she asserted, was like no otherillness on earth and could only be interpreted as one of the specialvisitations of providence. as soon as her doctor allowed her to puther foot out-of-doors she hurried up to green gables, bursting with curiosity tosee matthew and marilla's orphan, concerning whom all sorts of stories andsuppositions had gone abroad in avonlea. anne had made good use of every wakingmoment of that fortnight. already she was acquainted with every treeand shrub about the place. she had discovered that a lane opened outbelow the apple orchard and ran up through
a belt of woodland; and she had explored itto its furthest end in all its delicious vagaries of brook and bridge, fir coppice and wild cherry arch, corners thick withfern, and branching byways of maple and mountain ash. she had made friends with the spring downin the hollow--that wonderful deep, clear icy-cold spring; it was set about withsmooth red sandstones and rimmed in by great palm-like clumps of water fern; andbeyond it was a log bridge over the brook. that bridge led anne's dancing feet up overa 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 ofwoodland blooms, and a few pale, aerial starflowers, like the spirits of lastyear's blossoms. gossamers glimmered like threads of silveramong the trees and the fir boughs and tassels seemed to utter friendly speech. all these raptured voyages of explorationwere made in the odd half hours which she was allowed for play, and anne talkedmatthew and marilla half-deaf over her discoveries. not that matthew complained, to be sure; helistened to it all with a wordless smile of
enjoyment on his face; marilla permittedthe "chatter" until she found herself becoming too interested in it, whereupon she always promptly quenched anne by a curtcommand to hold her tongue. anne was out in the orchard when mrs.rachel came, wandering at her own sweet will through the lush, tremulous grassessplashed with ruddy evening sunshine; so that good lady had an excellent chance to talk her illness fully over, describingevery ache and pulse beat with such evident enjoyment that marilla thought even grippemust bring its compensations. when details were exhausted mrs. rachelintroduced the real reason of her call.
"i've been hearing some surprising thingsabout you and matthew." "i don't suppose you are any more surprisedthan 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 tosay when she began, for she read
disapproval in mrs. rachel's expression. "it's a great responsibility you've takenon yourself," said that lady gloomily, "especially when you've never had anyexperience with children. you don't know much about her or her realdisposition, i suppose, and there's no guessing how a child like that will turnout. but i don't want to discourage you i'msure, marilla." "i'm not feeling discouraged," wasmarilla'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 facesparkling with the delight of her orchard rovings; but, abashed at finding thedelight herself in the unexpected presence of a stranger, she halted confusedly insidethe door. she certainly was an odd-looking littlecreature in the short tight wincey dress she had worn from the asylum, below whichher thin legs seemed ungracefully long. her freckles were more numerous andobtrusive than ever; the wind had ruffled her hatless hair into over-brilliantdisorder; 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 andpopular 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 atyou. lawful heart, did any one ever see suchfreckles? 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 kitchenfloor and stood before mrs. rachel, her
face scarlet with anger, her lipsquivering, 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--" alouder stamp with each assertion of hatred. "how dare you call me skinny and ugly? how dare you say i'm freckled andredheaded? you are a rude, impolite, unfeeling woman!""anne!" exclaimed marilla in consternation. but anne continued to face mrs. rachelundauntedly, head up, eyes blazing, hands clenched, passionate indignation exhalingfrom her like an atmosphere.
"how dare you say such things about me?"she repeated vehemently. "how would you like to have such thingssaid about you? how would you like to be told that you arefat 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 untili come up," said marilla, recovering her powers of speech with difficulty. anne, bursting into tears, rushed to thehall door, slammed it until the tins on the porch wall outside rattled in sympathy, andfled through the hall and up the stairs like a whirlwind. a subdued slam above told that the door ofthe east gable had been shut with equal vehemence. "well, i don't envy you your job bringingthat 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 herselfthen and ever afterwards. "you shouldn't have twitted her about herlooks, rachel." "marilla cuthbert, you don't mean to saythat you are upholding her in such a terrible display of temper as we've justseen?" demanded mrs. rachel indignantly. "no," said marilla slowly, "i'm not tryingto excuse her. she's been very naughty and i'll have togive 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 lastsentence, although she was again surprised at herself for doing it. mrs. rachel got up with an air of offendeddignity. "well, i see that i'll have to be verycareful what i say after this, marilla, since the fine feelings of orphans, broughtfrom goodness knows where, have to be considered before anything else. oh, no, i'm not vexed--don't worryyourself. i'm too sorry for you to leave any room foranger in my mind.
you'll have your own troubles with thatchild. but if you'll take my advice--which isuppose you won't do, although i've brought up ten children and buried two--you'll dothat 'talking to' you mention with a fair- sized birch switch. i should think that would be the mosteffective 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 asusual. but you can't expect me to visit here againin 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--ifa fat woman who always waddled could be said to sweep away--and marilla with a verysolemn face betook herself to the east gable. on the way upstairs she pondered uneasilyas to what she ought to do. she felt no little dismay over the scenethat had just been enacted. how unfortunate that anne should havedisplayed such temper before mrs. rachel lynde, of all people!
then marilla suddenly became aware of anuncomfortable and rebuking consciousness that she felt more humiliation over thisthan 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 bornesmarting testimony--did not appeal to she did not believe she could whip a child.no, some other method of punishment must be found to bring anne to a proper realizationof the enormity of her offense. marilla found anne face downward on herbed, crying bitterly, quite oblivious of
muddy boots on a clean counterpane."anne," she said not ungently. no answer. "anne," with greater severity, "get offthat bed this minute and listen to what i have to say to you." anne squirmed off the bed and sat rigidlyon a chair beside it, her face swollen and tear-stained and her eyes fixed stubbornlyon 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 andredheaded," retorted anne, evasive and
defiant. "you hadn't any right to fly into such afury and talk the way you did to her, anne. i was ashamed of you--thoroughly ashamed ofyou. 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 loseyour 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 betweensaying a thing yourself and hearing other people say it," wailed anne.
"you may know a thing is so, but you can'thelp 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 justrose 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 tellabout 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 ifsomebody told you to your face that you were skinny and ugly," pleaded annetearfully. an old remembrance suddenly rose up beforemarilla. she had been a very small child when shehad heard one aunt say of her to another, "what a pity she is such a dark, homelylittle thing." marilla was every day of fifty before thesting had gone out of that memory. "i don't say that i think mrs. lynde wasexactly 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 personand my visitor--all three very good reasons why you should have been respectful to her. you were rude and saucy and"--marilla had asaving inspiration of punishment--"you must go to her and tell her you are very sorryfor your bad temper and ask her to forgive you." "i can never do that," said annedeterminedly and darkly. "you can punish me in any way you like,marilla. you can shut me up in a dark, damp dungeoninhabited by snakes and toads and feed me
only on bread and water and i shall notcomplain. but i cannot ask mrs. lynde to forgive me." "we're not in the habit of shutting peopleup in dark damp dungeons," said marilla drily, "especially as they're rather scarcein avonlea. but apologize to mrs. lynde you must andshall and you'll stay here in your room until you can tell me you're willing to doit." "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 toher. 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," saidmarilla, rising to depart. "you'll have the night to think over yourconduct in and come to a better frame of mind. you said you would try to be a very goodgirl if we kept you at green gables, but i must say it hasn't seemed very much like itthis evening."
leaving this parthian shaft to rankle inanne's stormy bosom, marilla descended to the kitchen, grievously troubled in mindand vexed in soul. she was as angry with herself as with anne,because, whenever she recalled mrs. rachel's dumbfounded countenance her lipstwitched with amusement and she felt a most reprehensible desire to laugh. chapter x.anne's apology marilla said nothing to matthew about theaffair that evening; but when anne proved still refractory the next morning anexplanation 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 acalling down; she's a meddlesome old gossip," was matthew's consolatoryrejoinder. "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 thatshe oughtn't to be punished at all!" "well now--no--not exactly," said matthewuneasily. "i reckon she ought to be punished alittle.
but don't be too hard on her, marilla. recollect she hasn't ever had anyone toteach her right. you're--you're going to give her somethingto eat, aren't you?" "when did you ever hear of me starvingpeople 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'swilling to apologize to mrs. lynde, and that's final, matthew." breakfast, dinner, and supper were verysilent 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 bringthe cows from the back pasture, matthew, who had been hanging about the barns andwatching, slipped into the house with the air of a burglar and crept upstairs. as a general thing matthew gravitatedbetween the kitchen and the little bedroom
off the hall where he slept; once in awhile he ventured uncomfortably into the parlor or sitting room when the ministercame to tea. but he had never been upstairs in his ownhouse since the spring he helped marilla paper the spare bedroom, and that was fouryears ago. he tiptoed along the hall and stood forseveral minutes outside the door of the east gable before he summoned courage totap on it with his fingers and then open the door to peep in. anne was sitting on the yellow chair by thewindow 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 overto her. "anne," he whispered, as if afraid of beingoverheard, "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 longyears of solitary imprisonment before her. matthew recollected that he must say whathe had come to say without loss of time,
lest marilla return prematurely. "well now, anne, don't you think you'dbetter do it and have it over with?" he whispered. "it'll have to be done sooner or later, youknow, 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 madall night. i know i did because i woke up three timesand i was just furious every time. but this morning it was over. i wasn't in a temper anymore--and it left adreadful 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 anythingabout it. she might think i was putting my oar in andi promised not to do that."
"wild horses won't drag the secret fromme," promised anne solemnly. "how would wild horses drag a secret from aperson anyhow?" but matthew was gone, scared at his ownsuccess. he fled hastily to the remotest corner ofthe horse pasture lest marilla should suspect what he had been up to. marilla herself, upon her return to thehouse, was agreeably surprised to hear a plaintive voice calling, "marilla" over thebanisters. "well?" she said, going into the hall. "i'm sorry i lost my temper and said rudethings, and i'm willing to go and tell mrs.
lynde so.""very well." marilla's crispness gave no sign of herrelief. she had been wondering what under thecanopy 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 formererect and triumphant, the latter drooping and dejected. but halfway down anne's dejection vanishedas if by enchantment. she lifted her head and stepped lightlyalong, 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 ofthe offended mrs. lynde. "what are you thinking of, anne?" she askedsharply. "i'm imagining out what i must say to mrs.lynde," answered anne dreamily. this was satisfactory--or should have beenso. but marilla could not rid herself of thenotion that something in her scheme of punishment was going askew. anne had no business to look so rapt andradiant.
rapt and radiant anne continued until theywere in the very presence of mrs. lynde, who was sitting knitting by her kitchenwindow. then the radiance vanished. mournful penitence appeared on everyfeature. before a word was spoken anne suddenly wentdown on her knees before the astonished mrs. rachel and held out her handsbeseechingly. "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'vedisgraced the dear friends, matthew and marilla, who have let me stay at greengables although i'm not a boy. i'm a dreadfully wicked and ungratefulgirl, 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 wastrue. my hair is red and i'm freckled and skinnyand ugly. what i said to you was true, too, but ishouldn't have said it. oh, mrs. lynde, please, please, forgive me.
if you refuse it will be a lifelong sorrowon 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 herhead, and waited for the word of judgment. there was no mistaking her sincerity--itbreathed in every tone of her voice. both marilla and mrs. lynde recognized itsunmistakable ring. but the former under-stood in dismay thatanne was actually enjoying her valley of humiliation--was reveling in thethoroughness of her abasement. where was the wholesome punishment uponwhich she, marilla, had plumed herself?
anne had turned it into a species ofpositive pleasure. good mrs. lynde, not being overburdenedwith perception, did not see this. she only perceived that anne had made avery thorough apology and all resentment vanished from her kindly, if somewhatofficious, heart. "there, there, get up, child," she saidheartily. "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 terriblered; but i knew a girl once--went to school
with her, in fact--whose hair was everymite as red as yours when she was young, but when she grew up it darkened to a realhandsome auburn. i wouldn't be a mite surprised if yoursdid, too--not a mite." "oh, mrs. lynde!" anne drew a long breath as she rose to herfeet. "you have given me a hope.i shall always feel that you are a benefactor. oh, i could endure anything if i onlythought my hair would be a handsome auburn when i grew up.
it would be so much easier to be good ifone's hair was a handsome auburn, don't you think? and now may i go out into your garden andsit 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 youlike." as the door closed behind anne mrs. lyndegot briskly up to light a lamp. "she's a real odd little thing.
take this chair, marilla; it's easier thanthe one you've got; i just keep that for the hired boy to sit on. yes, she certainly is an odd child, butthere is something kind of taking about her after all. i don't feel so surprised at you andmatthew keeping her as i did--nor so sorry for you, either.she may turn out all right. of course, she has a queer way ofexpressing herself--a little too--well, too kind of forcible, you know; but she'lllikely get over that now that she's come to live among civilized folks.
and then, her temper's pretty quick, iguess; but there's one comfort, a child that has a quick temper, just blaze up andcool 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 thefragrant twilight of the orchard with a sheaf of white narcissi in her hands. "i apologized pretty well, didn't i?" shesaid proudly as they went down the lane. "i thought since i had to do it i might aswell do it thoroughly." "you did it thoroughly, all right enough,"was marilla's comment.
marilla was dismayed at finding herselfinclined to laugh over the recollection. she had also an uneasy feeling that sheought 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 makemany more such apologies. i hope you'll try to control your tempernow, anne." "that wouldn't be so hard if peoplewouldn't twit me about my looks," said anne with a sigh. "i don't get cross about other things; buti'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 yourlooks, anne. i'm afraid you are a very vain littlegirl." "how can i be vain when i know i'm homely?"protested anne. "i love pretty things; and i hate to lookin the glass and see something that isn't pretty. it makes me feel so sorrowful--just as ifeel when i look at any ugly thing. i pity it because it isn't beautiful.""handsome is as handsome does," quoted
"i've had that said to me before, but ihave 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 tome. i have no hard feelings against mrs. lyndenow. it gives you a lovely, comfortable feelingto 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 awayover 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 intotheir own lane. a little gypsy wind came down it to meetthem, laden with the spicy perfume of young dew-wet ferns. far up in the shadows a cheerful lightgleamed out through the trees from the kitchen at green gables. anne suddenly came close to marilla andslipped 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 neverloved any place before. no place ever seemed like home.oh, marilla, i'm so happy. i could pray right now and not find it abit hard." something warm and pleasant welled up inmarilla's heart at touch of that thin little hand in her own--a throb of thematernity she had missed, perhaps. its very unaccustomedness and sweetnessdisturbed her. she hastened to restore her sensations totheir normal calm by inculcating a moral. "if you'll be a good girl you'll always behappy, anne. and you should never find it hard to sayyour prayers."
"saying one's prayers isn't exactly thesame thing as praying," said anne meditatively. "but i'm going to imagine that i'm the windthat is blowing up there in those tree tops. when i get tired of the trees i'll imaginei'm gently waving down here in the ferns-- and then i'll fly over to mrs. lynde'sgarden and set the flowers dancing--and then i'll go with one great swoop over the clover field--and then i'll blow over thelake 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," breathedmarilla in devout relief.