Part 1 out of 6
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
Lucy Maud Montgomery
Table of Contents
CHAPTER I Mrs. Rachel Lynde Is Surprised
CHAPTER II Matthew Cuthbert Is Surprised
CHAPTER III Marilla Cuthbert Is Surprised
CHAPTER IV Morning at Green Gables
CHAPTER V Anne's History
CHAPTER VI Marilla Makes Up Her Mind
CHAPTER VII Anne Says Her Prayers
CHAPTER VIII Anne's Bringing-Up Is Begun
CHAPTER IX Mrs. Rachel Lynde Is Properly Horrified
CHAPTER X Anne's Apology
CHAPTER XI Anne's Impressions of Sunday School
CHAPTER XII A Solemn Vow and Promise
CHAPTER XIII The Delights of Anticipation
CHAPTER XIV Anne's Confession
CHAPTER XV A Tempest in the School Teapot
CHAPTER XVI Diana Is Invited to Tea with Tragic Results
CHAPTER XVII A New Interest in Life
CHAPTER XVIII Anne to the Rescue
CHAPTER XIX A Concert a Catastrophe and a Confession
CHAPTER XX A Good Imagination Gone Wrong
CHAPTER XXI A New Departure in Flavorings
CHAPTER XXII Anne is Invited Out to Tea
CHAPTER XXIII Anne Comes to Grief in an Affair of Honor
CHAPTER XXIV Miss Stacy and Her Pupils Get Up a Concert
CHAPTER XXV Matthew Insists on Puffed Sleeves
CHAPTER XXVI The Story Club Is Formed
CHAPTER XXVII Vanity and Vexation of Spirit
CHAPTER XXVIII An Unfortunate Lily Maid
CHAPTER XXIX An Epoch in Anne's Life
CHAPTER XXX The Queens Class Is Organized
CHAPTER XXXI Where the Brook and River Meet
CHAPTER XXXII The Pass List Is Out
CHAPTER XXXIII The Hotel Concert
CHAPTER XXXIV A Queen's Girl
CHAPTER XXXV The Winter at Queen's
CHAPTER XXXVI The Glory and the Dream
CHAPTER XXXVII The Reaper Whose Name Is Death
CHAPTER XXXVIII The Bend in the road
Anne of Green Gables
Mrs. Rachel Lynde is Surprised
Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main
road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders
and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its
source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place;
it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its
earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of
pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde's
Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not
even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde's door
without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably
was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window,
keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks
and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or
out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted
out the whys and wherefores thereof.
There are plenty of people in Avonlea and out of it,
who can attend closely to their neighbor's business by dint
of neglecting their own; but Mrs. Rachel Lynde was one of
those capable creatures who can manage their own concerns
and those of other folks into the bargain. She was a
notable housewife; her work was always done and well done;
she "ran" the Sewing Circle, helped run the Sunday-school,
and was the strongest prop of the Church Aid Society and
Foreign Missions Auxiliary. Yet with all this Mrs. Rachel
found abundant time to sit for hours at her kitchen window,
knitting "cotton warp" quilts--she had knitted sixteen of
them, as Avonlea housekeepers were wont to tell in awed
voices--and keeping a sharp eye on the main road that
crossed the hollow and wound up the steep red hill beyond.
Since Avonlea occupied a little triangular peninsula jutting
out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence with water on two sides of
it, anybody who went out of it or into it had to pass over
that hill road and so run the unseen gauntlet of Mrs. Rachel's
She was sitting there one afternoon in early June. The
sun was coming in at the window warm and bright; the orchard
on the slope below the house was in a bridal flush of pinky-
white bloom, hummed over by a myriad of bees. Thomas Lynde--
a meek little man whom Avonlea people called "Rachel
Lynde's husband"--was sowing his late turnip seed on the
hill field beyond the barn; and Matthew Cuthbert ought to
have been sowing his on the big red brook field away over by
Green Gables. Mrs. Rachel knew that he ought because she
had heard him tell Peter Morrison the evening before in
William J. Blair's store over at Carmody that he meant to
sow his turnip seed the next afternoon. Peter had asked him, of
course, for Matthew Cuthbert had never been known to
volunteer information about anything in his whole life.
And yet here was Matthew Cuthbert, at half-past three
on the afternoon of a busy day, placidly driving over the
hollow and up the hill; moreover, he wore a white collar and
his best suit of clothes, which was plain proof that he was
going out of Avonlea; and he had the buggy and the sorrel mare,
which betokened that he was going a considerable distance.
Now, where was Matthew Cuthbert going and why was he going there?
Had it been any other man in Avonlea, Mrs. Rachel,
deftly putting this and that together, might have given a
pretty good guess as to both questions. But Matthew so
rarely went from home that it must be something pressing and
unusual which was taking him; he was the shyest man alive
and hated to have to go among strangers or to any place
where he might have to talk. Matthew, dressed up with a
white collar and driving in a buggy, was something that
didn't happen often. Mrs. Rachel, ponder as she might,
could make nothing of it and her afternoon's enjoyment was spoiled.
"I'll just step over to Green Gables after tea and find
out from Marilla where he's gone and why," the worthy woman
finally concluded. "He doesn't generally go to town this
time of year and he NEVER visits; if he'd run out of turnip
seed he wouldn't dress up and take the buggy to go for more;
he wasn't driving fast enough to be going for a doctor. Yet
something must have happened since last night to start him
off. I'm clean puzzled, that's what, and I won't know a
minute's peace of mind or conscience until I know what has
taken Matthew Cuthbert out of Avonlea today."
Accordingly after tea Mrs. Rachel set out; she had not
far to go; the big, rambling, orchard-embowered house where
the Cuthberts lived was a scant quarter of a mile up the
road from Lynde's Hollow. To be sure, the long lane made it
a good deal further. Matthew Cuthbert's father, as shy and
silent as his son after him, had got as far away as he
possibly could from his fellow men without actually
retreating into the woods when he founded his homestead.
Green Gables was built at the furthest edge of his cleared
land and there it was to this day, barely visible from the
main road along which all the other Avonlea houses were so
sociably situated. Mrs. Rachel Lynde did not call living in
such a place LIVING at all.
"It's just STAYING, that's what," she said as she
stepped along the deep-rutted, grassy lane bordered with
wild rose bushes. "It's no wonder Matthew and Marilla are
both a little odd, living away back here by themselves.
Trees aren't much company, though dear knows if they were
there'd be enough of them. I'd ruther look at people.
To be sure, they seem contented enough; but then, I suppose,
they're used to it. A body can get used to anything, even to
being hanged, as the Irishman said."
With this Mrs. Rachel stepped out of the lane into the
backyard of Green Gables. Very green and neat and precise
was that yard, set about on one side with great patriarchal
willows and the other with prim Lombardies. Not a stray
stick nor stone was to be seen, for Mrs. Rachel would have
seen it if there had been. Privately she was of the opinion
that Marilla Cuthbert swept that yard over as often as she
swept her house. One could have eaten a meal off the ground
without 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 cheerful apartment--or would have been cheerful
if it had not been so painfully clean as to give it
something of the appearance of an unused parlor. Its
windows looked east and west; through the west one, looking
out on the back yard, came a flood of mellow June sunlight;
but the east one, whence you got a glimpse of the bloom
white cherry-trees in the left orchard and nodding, slender
birches down in the hollow by the brook, was greened over by
a tangle of vines. Here sat Marilla Cuthbert, when she sat
at all, always slightly distrustful of sunshine, which
seemed to her too dancing and irresponsible a thing for a
world which was meant to be taken seriously; and here she sat
now, knitting, and the table behind her was laid for supper.
Mrs. Rachel, before she had fairly closed the door, had
taken a mental note of everything that was on that table.
There were three plates laid, so that Marilla must be
expecting some one home with Matthew to tea; but the dishes
were everyday dishes and there was only crab-apple preserves
and one kind of cake, so that the expected company could not
be any particular company. Yet what of Matthew's white collar
and the sorrel mare? Mrs. Rachel was getting fairly dizzy with
this unusual mystery about quiet, unmysterious Green Gables.
"Good evening, Rachel," Marilla said briskly. "This is
a real fine evening, isn't it" Won't you sit down? How are
all your folks?"
Something that for lack of any other name might be
called friendship existed and always had existed between
Marilla Cuthbert and Mrs. Rachel, in spite of--or perhaps
because of--their dissimilarity.
Marilla was a tall, thin woman, with angles and without
curves; her dark hair showed some gray streaks and was
always twisted up in a hard little knot behind with two wire
hairpins stuck aggressively through it. She looked like a
woman of narrow experience and rigid conscience, which she
was; but there was a saving something about her mouth which,
if it had been ever so slightly developed, might have been
considered indicative of a sense of humor.
"We're all pretty well," said Mrs. Rachel. "I was kind
of afraid YOU weren't, though, when I saw Matthew starting
off today. I thought maybe he was going to the doctor's."
Marilla's lips twitched understandingly. She had
expected Mrs. Rachel up; she had known that the sight of
Matthew jaunting off so unaccountably would be too much for
her neighbor's curiosity.
"Oh, no, I'm quite well although I had a bad headache
yesterday," she said. "Matthew went to Bright River. We're
getting a little boy from an orphan asylum in Nova Scotia
and he's coming on the train tonight."
If Marilla had said that Matthew had gone to Bright River to
meet a kangaroo from Australia Mrs. Rachel could not have been
more astonished. She was actually stricken dumb for five
seconds. It was unsupposable that Marilla was making fun
of her, but Mrs. Rachel was almost forced to suppose it.
"Are you in earnest, Marilla?" she demanded when voice
returned to her.
"Yes, of course," said Marilla, as if getting boys from
orphan asylums in Nova Scotia were part of the usual spring
work on any well-regulated Avonlea farm instead of being an
unheard of innovation.
Mrs. Rachel felt that she had received a severe mental jolt.
She thought in exclamation points. A boy! Marilla and
Matthew Cuthbert of all people adopting a boy! From an
orphan asylum! Well, the world was certainly turning upside
down! She would be surprised at nothing after this! Nothing!
"What on earth put such a notion into your head?" she demanded
This had been done without here advice being asked, and
must perforce be disapproved.
"Well, we've been thinking about it for some time--all
winter in fact," returned Marilla. "Mrs. Alexander Spencer
was up here one day before Christmas and she said she was
going to get a little girl from the asylum over in Hopeton
in the spring. Her cousin lives there and Mrs. Spencer has
visited here and knows all about it. So Matthew and I have
talked it over off and on ever since. We thought we'd get a
boy. Matthew is getting up in years, you know--he's sixty--
and he isn't so spry as he once was. His heart troubles him
a good deal. And you know how desperate hard it's got to be
to get hired help. There's never anybody to be had but
those stupid, half-grown little French boys; and as soon as
you do get one broke into your ways and taught something
he's up and off to the lobster canneries or the States. At
first Matthew suggested getting a Home boy. But I said `no'
flat to that. `They may be all right--I'm not saying
they're not--but no London street Arabs for me,' I said.
`Give me a native born at least. There'll be a risk, no
matter who we get. But I'll feel easier in my mind and
sleep sounder at nights if we get a born Canadian.' So in
the end we decided to ask Mrs. Spencer to pick us out one
when she went over to get her little girl. We heard last
week she was going, so we sent her word by Richard Spencer's
folks at Carmody to bring us a smart, likely boy of about
ten or eleven. We decided that would be the best age--old
enough to be of some use in doing chores right off and young
enough to be trained up proper. We mean to give him a good
home and schooling. We had a telegram from Mrs. Alexander
Spencer today--the mail-man brought it from the station--
saying they were coming on the five-thirty train tonight.
So Matthew went to Bright River to meet him. Mrs. Spencer
will drop him off there. Of course she goes on to White
Sands station herself"
Mrs. Rachel prided herself on always speaking her mind;
she proceeded to speak it now, having adjusted her mental
attitude to this amazing piece of news.
"Well, Marilla, I'll just tell you plain that I think
you're doing a mighty foolish thing--a risky thing, that's
what. You don't know what you're getting. You're bringing
a strange child into your house and home and you don't know
a single thing about him nor what his disposition is like
nor what sort of parents he had nor how he's likely to turn
out. Why, it was only last week I read in the paper how a
man and his wife up west of the Island took a boy out of an
orphan asylum and he set fire to the house at night--set it
ON PURPOSE, Marilla--and nearly burnt them to a crisp in
their beds. And I know another case where an adopted boy
used to suck the eggs--they couldn't break him of it. If
you had asked my advice in the matter--which you didn't do,
Marilla--I'd have said for mercy's sake not to think of such
a thing, that's what."
This Job's comforting seemed neither to offend nor to alarm
Marilla. She knitted steadily on.
"I don't deny there's something in what you say, Rachel.
I've had some qualms myself. But Matthew was terrible set
on it. I could see that, so I gave in. It's so seldom
Matthew sets his mind on anything that when he does I always
feel it's my duty to give in. And as for the risk, there's
risks in pretty near everything a body does in this world.
There's risks in people's having children of their own if it
comes to that--they don't always turn out well. And then
Nova Scotia is right close to the Island. It isn't as if we
were getting him from England or the States. He can't be
much different from ourselves."
"Well, I hope it will turn out all right," said Mrs.
Rachel in a tone that plainly indicated her painful doubts.
"Only don't say I didn't warn you if he burns Green Gables
down or puts strychnine in the well--I heard of a case over
in New Brunswick where an orphan asylum child did that and
the whole family died in fearful agonies. Only, it was a
girl in that instance."
"Well, we're not getting a girl," said Marilla, as if
poisoning wells were a purely feminine accomplishment and
not to be dreaded in the case of a boy. "I'd never dream of
taking a girl to bring up. I wonder at Mrs. Alexander
Spencer for doing it. But there, SHE wouldn't shrink from
adopting a whole orphan asylum if she took it into her head."
Mrs. Rachel would have liked to stay until Matthew came home
with his imported orphan. But reflecting that it would be a
good two hours at least before his arrival she concluded to
go up the road to Robert Bell's and tell the news. It would
certainly make a sensation second to none, and Mrs. Rachel
dearly loved to make a sensation. So she took herself away,
somewhat to Marilla's relief, for the latter felt her doubts
and fears reviving under the influence of Mrs. Rachel's pessimism.
"Well, of all things that ever were or will be!"
ejaculated Mrs. Rachel when she was safely out in the lane.
"It does really seem as if I must be dreaming. Well, I'm
sorry for that poor young one and no mistake. Matthew and
Marilla don't know anything about children and they'll
expect him to be wiser and steadier that his own
grandfather, if so be's he ever had a grandfather, which is
doubtful. It seems uncanny to think of a child at Green
Gables somehow; there's never been one there, for Matthew
and Marilla were grown up when the new house was built--if
they ever WERE children, which is hard to believe when one
looks at them. I wouldn't be in that orphan's shoes for
anything. My, but I pity him, that's what."
So said Mrs. Rachel to the wild rose bushes out of the
fulness of her heart; but if she could have seen the child
who was waiting patiently at the Bright River station at
that very moment her pity would have been still deeper and
Matthew Cuthbert is surprised
Matthew Cuthbert and the sorrel mare jogged comfortably
over the eight miles to Bright River. It was a pretty road,
running along between snug farmsteads, with now and again a
bit of balsamy fir wood to drive through or a hollow where
wild plums hung out their filmy bloom. The air was sweet
with the breath of many apple orchards and the meadows
sloped away in the distance to horizon mists of pearl and
"The little birds sang as if it were
The one day of summer in all the year."
Matthew enjoyed the drive after his own fashion, except
during the moments when he met women and had to nod to them--
for in Prince Edward island you are supposed to nod to all
and sundry you meet on the road whether you know them or not.
Matthew dreaded all women except Marilla and Mrs.
Rachel; he had an uncomfortable feeling that the mysterious
creatures were secretly laughing at him. He may have been
quite right in thinking so, for he was an odd-looking
personage, with an ungainly figure and long iron-gray hair
that touched his stooping shoulders, and a full, soft brown
beard which he had worn ever since he was twenty. In fact,
he had looked at twenty very much as he looked at sixty,
lacking a little of the grayness.
When he reached Bright River there was no sign of any
train; he thought he was too early, so he tied his horse in
the yard of the small Bright River hotel and went over to
the station house. The long platform was almost deserted;
the only living creature in sight being a girl who was
sitting on a pile of shingles at the extreme end. Matthew,
barely noting that it WAS a girl, sidled past her as quickly
as possible without looking at her. Had he looked he could
hardly have failed to notice the tense rigidity and
expectation of her attitude and expression. She was sitting
there waiting for something or somebody and, since sitting
and waiting was the only thing to do just then, she sat and
waited with all her might and main.
Matthew encountered the stationmaster locking up the
ticket office preparatory to going home for supper, and
asked him if the five-thirty train would soon be along.
"The five-thirty train has been in and gone half an
hour ago," answered that brisk official. "But there was a
passenger dropped off for you--a little girl. She's sitting
out there on the shingles. I asked her to go into the
ladies' waiting room, but she informed me gravely that she
preferred to stay outside. `There was more scope for
imagination,' she said. She's a case, I should say."
"I'm not expecting a girl," said Matthew blankly. "It's a boy
I've come for. He should be here. Mrs. Alexander Spencer was
to bring him over from Nova Scotia for me."
The stationmaster whistled.
"Guess there's some mistake," he said. "Mrs. Spencer
came off the train with that girl and gave her into my
charge. Said you and your sister were adopting her from an
orphan asylum and that you would be along for her presently.
That's all I know about it--and I haven't got any more
orphans concealed hereabouts."
"I don't understand," said Matthew helplessly, wishing that
Marilla was at hand to cope with the situation.
"Well, you'd better question the girl," said the station-
master carelessly. "I dare say she'll be able to explain--
she's got a tongue of her own, that's certain. Maybe they
were out of boys of the brand you wanted."
He walked jauntily away, being hungry, and the unfortunate
Matthew was left to do that which was harder for him than
bearding a lion in its den--walk up to a girl--a strange
girl--an orphan girl--and demand of her why she wasn't a boy.
Matthew groaned in spirit as he turned about and shuffled
gently down the platform towards her.
She had been watching him ever since he had passed her and
she had her eyes on him now. Matthew was not looking at her
and would not have seen what she was really like if he had
been, but an ordinary observer would have seen this:
A child of about eleven, garbed in a very short, very tight,
very ugly dress of yellowish-gray wincey. She wore a faded
brown sailor hat and beneath the hat, extending down her
back, were two braids of very thick, decidedly red hair.
Her face was small, white and thin, also much freckled; her
mouth was large and so were her eyes, which looked green in
some lights and moods and gray in others.
So far, the ordinary observer; an extraordinary observer
might have seen that the chin was very pointed and
pronounced; that the big eyes were full of spirit and
vivacity; that the mouth was sweet-lipped and expressive;
that the forehead was broad and full; in short, our
discerning extraordinary observer might have concluded that
no commonplace soul inhabited the body of this stray woman-
child of whom shy Matthew Cuthbert was so ludicrously afraid.
Matthew, however, was spared the ordeal of speaking first,
for as soon as she concluded that he was coming to her she
stood up, grasping with one thin brown hand the handle of a
shabby, old-fashioned carpet-bag; the other she held out to him.
"I suppose you are Mr. Matthew Cuthbert of Green Gables?"
she said in a peculiarly clear, sweet voice. "I'm very
glad to see you. I was beginning to be afraid you
weren't coming for me and I was imagining all the things
that might have happened to prevent you. I had made up my
mind that if you didn't come for me to-night I'd go down the
track to that big wild cherry-tree at the bend, and climb up
into it to stay all night. I wouldn't be a bit afraid, and
it would be lovely to sleep in a wild cherry-tree all white
with bloom in the moonshine, don't you think? You could
imagine you were dwelling in marble halls, couldn't you?
And I was quite sure you would come for me in the morning,
if you didn't to-night."
Matthew had taken the scrawny little hand awkwardly in his;
then and there he decided what to do. He could not tell
this child with the glowing eyes that there had been a
mistake; he would take her home and let Marilla do that.
She couldn't be left at Bright River anyhow, no matter what
mistake had been made, so all questions and explanations might
as well be deferred until he was safely back at Green Gables.
"I'm sorry I was late," he said shyly. "Come along.
The horse is over in the yard. Give me your bag."
"Oh, I can carry it," the child responded cheerfully. "It
isn't heavy. I've got all my worldly goods in it, but it
isn't heavy. And if it isn't carried in just a certain way
the handle pulls out--so I'd better keep it because I know
the exact knack of it. It's an extremely old carpet-bag.
Oh, I'm very glad you've come, even if it would have been
nice to sleep in a wild cherry-tree. We've got to drive a
long piece, haven't we? Mrs. Spencer said it was eight
miles. I'm glad because I love driving. Oh, it seems so
wonderful that I'm going to live with you and belong to you.
I've never belonged to anybody--not really. But the asylum
was the worst. I've only been in it four months, but that
was enough. I don't suppose you ever were an orphan in an
asylum, so you can't possibly understand what it is like.
It's worse than anything you could imagine. Mrs. Spencer
said it was wicked of me to talk like that, but I didn't
mean to be wicked. It's so easy to be wicked without
knowing it, isn't it? They were good, you know--the asylum
people. But there is so little scope for the imagination in
an asylum--only just in the other orphans. It was pretty
interesting to imagine things about them--to imagine that
perhaps the girl who sat next to you was really the daughter
of a belted earl, who had been stolen away from her parents
in her infancy by a cruel nurse who died before she could
confess. I used to lie awake at nights and imagine things
like that, because I didn't have time in the day. I guess
that's why I'm so thin--I AM dreadful thin, ain't I? There
isn't a pick on my bones. I do love to imagine I'm nice and
plump, with dimples in my elbows."
With this Matthew's companion stopped talking, partly
because she was out of breath and partly because they had
reached the buggy. Not another word did she say until they
had left the village and were driving down a steep little
hill, the road part of which had been cut so deeply into the
soft soil, that the banks, fringed with blooming wild
cherry-trees and slim white birches, were several feet
above their heads.
The child put out her hand and broke off a branch of
wild plum that brushed against the side of the buggy.
"Isn't that beautiful? What did that tree, leaning out from
the bank, all white and lacy, make you think of?" she asked.
"Well now, I dunno," said Matthew.
"Why, a bride, of course--a bride all in white with a
lovely misty veil. I've never seen one, but I can imagine
what she would look like. I don't ever expect to be a bride
myself. I'm so homely nobody will ever want to marry me--
unless it might be a foreign missionary. I suppose a
foreign missionary mightn't be very particular. But I do
hope that some day I shall have a white dress. That is my
highest ideal of earthly bliss. I just love pretty clothes.
And I've never had a pretty dress in my life that I can
remember--but of course it's all the more to look forward
to, isn't it? And then I can imagine that I'm dressed
gorgeously. This morning when I left the asylum I felt so
ashamed because I had to wear this horrid old wincey dress.
All the orphans had to wear them, you know. A merchant in
Hopeton last winter donated three hundred yards of wincey to
the asylum. Some people said it was because he couldn't
sell it, but I'd rather believe that it was out of the
kindness of his heart, wouldn't you? When we got on the
train I felt as if everybody must be looking at me and
pitying me. But I just went to work and imagined that I had
on the most beautiful pale blue silk dress--because when you
ARE imagining you might as well imagine something worth
while--and a big hat all flowers and nodding plumes, and a
gold watch, and kid gloves and boots. I felt cheered up
right away and I enjoyed my trip to the Island with all my
might. I wasn't a bit sick coming over in the boat.
Neither was Mrs. Spencer although she generally is. She
said she hadn't time to get sick, watching to see that I
didn't fall overboard. She said she never saw the beat of
me for prowling about. But if it kept her from being
seasick it's a mercy I did prowl, isn't it? And I wanted to
see everything that was to be seen on that boat, because I
didn't know whether I'd ever have another opportunity. Oh,
there are a lot more cherry-trees all in bloom! This Island
is the bloomiest place. I just love it already, and I'm so
glad I'm going to live here. I've always heard that Prince
Edward Island was the prettiest place in the world, and I
used to imagine I was living here, but I never really
expected I would. It's delightful when your imaginations
come true, isn't it? But those red roads are so funny.
When we got into the train at Charlottetown and the red
roads began to flash past I asked Mrs. Spencer what made
them red and she said she didn't know and for pity's sake
not to ask her any more questions. She said I must have
asked her a thousand already. I suppose I had, too, but how
you going to find out about things if you don't ask
questions? And what DOES make the roads red?"
"Well now, I dunno," said Matthew.
"Well, that is one of the things to find out sometime.
Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to
find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--
it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so
interesting if we know all about everything, would it?
There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there? But
am I talking too much? People are always telling me I do.
Would you rather I didn't talk? If you say so I'll stop. I
can STOP when I make up my mind to it, although it's difficult."
Matthew, much to his own surprise, was enjoying himself.
Like most quiet folks he liked talkative people when they
were willing to do the talking themselves and did not expect
him to keep up his end of it. But he had never expected to
enjoy the society of a little girl. Women were bad enough
in all conscience, but little girls were worse. He detested
the way they had of sidling past him timidly, with sidewise
glances, as if they expected him to gobble them up at a
mouthful if they ventured to say a word. That was the
Avonlea type of well-bred little girl. But this freckled
witch was very different, and although he found it rather
difficult for his slower intelligence to keep up with her
brisk mental processes he thought that he "kind of liked her
chatter." So he said as shyly as usual:
"Oh, you can talk as much as you like. I don't mind."
"Oh, I'm so glad. I know you and I are going to get along
together fine. It's such a relief to talk when one wants to
and not be told that children should be seen and not heard.
I've had that said to me a million times if I have once.
And people laugh at me because I use big words. But if you
have big ideas you have to use big words to express them,
"Well now, that seems reasonable," said Matthew.
"Mrs. Spencer said that my tongue must be hung in the
middle. But it isn't--it's firmly fastened at one end.
Mrs. Spencer said your place was named Green Gables. I
asked her all about it. And she said there were trees all
around it. I was gladder than ever. I just love trees.
And there weren't any at all about the asylum, only a few
poor weeny-teeny things out in front with little whitewashed
cagey things about them. They just looked like orphans
themselves, those trees did. It used to make me want to cry
to look at them. I used to say to them, `Oh, you POOR
little things! If you were out in a great big woods with
other trees all around you and little mosses and Junebells
growing over your roots and a brook not far away and birds
singing in you branches, you could grow, couldn't you? But
you can't where you are. I know just exactly how you feel,
little trees.' I felt sorry to leave them behind this morning.
You do get so attached to things like that, don't you?
Is there a brook anywhere near Green Gables? I forgot to ask
Mrs. Spencer that."
"Well now, yes, there's one right below the house."
"Fancy. It's always been one of my dreams to live near a
brook. I never expected I would, though. Dreams don't
often come true, do they? Wouldn't it be nice if they did?
But just now I feel pretty nearly perfectly happy. I can't
feel exactly perfectly happy because--well, what color would
you call this?"
She twitched one of her long glossy braids over her thin
shoulder and held it up before Matthew's eyes. Matthew was
not used to deciding on the tints of ladies' tresses, but in
this case there couldn't be much doubt.
"It's red, ain't it?" he said.
The girl let the braid drop back with a sigh that seemed to
come from her very toes and to exhale forth all the sorrows
of the ages.
"Yes, it's red," she said resignedly. "Now you see why I
can't be perfectly happy. Nobody could who has red hair. I
don't mind the other things so much--the freckles and the
green eyes and my skinniness. I can imagine them away. I
can imagine that I have a beautiful rose-leaf complexion and
lovely starry violet eyes. But I CANNOT imagine that red
hair away. I do my best. I think to myself, `Now my hair
is a glorious black, black as the raven's wing.' But all
the time I KNOW it is just plain red and it breaks my heart.
It will be my lifelong sorrow. I read of a girl once in a
novel who had a lifelong sorrow but it wasn't red hair.
Her hair was pure gold rippling back from her alabaster brow.
What is an alabaster brow? I never could find out.
Can you tell me?"
"Well now, I'm afraid I can't," said Matthew, who was
getting a little dizzy. He felt as he had once felt in his
rash youth when another boy had enticed him on the merry-go-
round at a picnic.
"Well, whatever it was it must have been something nice
because she was divinely beautiful. Have you ever imagined
what it must feel like to be divinely beautiful?"
"Well now, no, I haven't," confessed Matthew ingenuously.
"I have, often. Which would you rather be if you had the
choice--divinely beautiful or dazzlingly clever or
"Well now, I--I don't know exactly."
"Neither do I. I can never decide. But it doesn't make
much real difference for it isn't likely I'll ever be
either. It's certain I'll never be angelically good.
Mrs. Spencer says--oh, Mr. Cuthbert! Oh, Mr. Cuthbert!!
Oh, Mr. Cuthbert!!!"
That was not what Mrs. Spencer had said; neither had
the child tumbled out of the buggy nor had Matthew done
anything astonishing. They had simply rounded a curve in
the road and found themselves in the "Avenue."
The "Avenue," so called by the Newbridge people, was a
stretch of road four or five hundred yards long, completely
arched over with huge, wide-spreading apple-trees, planted
years ago by an eccentric old farmer. Overhead was one long
canopy of snowy fragrant bloom. Below the boughs the air
was full of a purple twilight and far ahead a glimpse of
painted sunset sky shone like a great rose window at the end
of a cathedral aisle.
Its beauty seemed to strike the child dumb. She leaned back
in the buggy, her thin hands clasped before her, her face
lifted rapturously to the white splendor above. Even when
they had passed out and were driving down the long slope to
Newbridge she never moved or spoke. Still with rapt face
she gazed afar into the sunset west, with eyes that saw
visions trooping splendidly across that glowing background.
Through Newbridge, a bustling little village where dogs
barked at them and small boys hooted and curious faces
peered from the windows, they drove, still in silence. When
three more miles had dropped away behind them the child had
not spoken. She could keep silence, it was evident, as
energetically as she could talk.
"I guess you're feeling pretty tired and hungry,"
Matthew ventured to say at last, accounting for her long
visitation of dumbness with the only reason he could think
of. "But we haven't very far to go now--only another mile."
She came out of her reverie with a deep sigh and looked at him with
the dreamy gaze of a soul that had been wondering afar, star-led.
"Oh, Mr. Cuthbert," she whispered, "that place we came
through--that white place--what was it?"
"Well now, you must mean the Avenue," said Matthew after a few
moments' profound reflection. "It is a kind of pretty place."
"Pretty? Oh, PRETTY doesn't seem the right word to use.
Nor beautiful, either. They don't go far enough. Oh, it
was wonderful--wonderful. It's the first thing I ever saw
that couldn't be improved upon by imagination. It just
satisfies me here"--she put one hand on her breast--"it made
a queer funny ache and yet it was a pleasant ache. Did you
ever have an ache like that, Mr. Cuthbert?"
"Well now, I just can't recollect that I ever had."
"I have it lots of time--whenever I see anything royally
beautiful. But they shouldn't call that lovely place the
Avenue. There is no meaning in a name like that. They
should call it--let me see--the White Way of Delight. Isn't
that a nice imaginative name? When I don't like the name of
a place or a person I always imagine a new one and always
think of them so. There was a girl at the asylum whose name
was Hepzibah Jenkins, but I always imagined her as Rosalia
DeVere. Other people may call that place the Avenue, but I
shall always call it the White Way of Delight. Have we
really only another mile to go before we get home? I'm glad
and I'm sorry. I'm sorry because this drive has been so
pleasant and I'm always sorry when pleasant things end.
Something still pleasanter may come after, but you can never
be sure. And it's so often the case that it isn't
pleasanter. That has been my experience anyhow. But I'm
glad to think of getting home. You see, I've never had a
real home since I can remember. It gives me that pleasant
ache again just to think of coming to a really truly home.
Oh, isn't that pretty!"
They had driven over the crest of a hill. Below them was a
pond, looking almost like a river so long and winding was
it. A bridge spanned it midway and from there to its lower
end, where an amber-hued belt of sand-hills shut it in from
the dark blue gulf beyond, the water was a glory of many
shifting hues--the most spiritual shadings of crocus and
rose and ethereal green, with other elusive tintings for
which no name has ever been found. Above the bridge the
pond ran up into fringing groves of fir and maple and lay
all darkly translucent in their wavering shadows. Here and
there a wild plum leaned out from the bank like a white-clad
girl tip-toeing to her own reflection. From the marsh at
the head of the pond came the clear, mournfully-sweet chorus
of the frogs. There was a little gray house peering around
a white apple orchard on a slope beyond and, although it was
not yet quite dark, a light was shining from one of its windows.
"That's Barry's pond," said Matthew.
"Oh, I don't like that name, either. I shall call it--let
me see--the Lake of Shining Waters. Yes, that is the right
name for it. I know because of the thrill. When I hit on a
name that suits exactly it gives me a thrill. Do things
ever give you a thrill?"
"Well now, yes. It always kind of gives me a thrill to see
them ugly white grubs that spade up in the cucumber beds.
I hate the look of them."
"Oh, I don't think that can be exactly the same kind of a
thrill. Do you think it can? There doesn't seem to be much
connection between grubs and lakes of shining waters, does
there? But why do other people call it Barry's pond?"
"I reckon because Mr. Barry lives up there in that house.
Orchard Slope's the name of his place. If it wasn't for
that big bush behind it you could see Green Gables from
here. But we have to go over the bridge and round by the
road, so it's near half a mile further."
"Has Mr. Barry any little girls? Well, not so very little
either--about my size."
"He's got one about eleven. Her name is Diana."
"Oh!" with a long indrawing of breath. "What a perfectly
"Well now, I dunno. There's something dreadful heathenish
about it, seems to me. I'd ruther Jane or Mary or some
sensible name like that. But when Diana was born there was
a schoolmaster boarding there and they gave him the naming
of her and he called her Diana."
"I wish there had been a schoolmaster like that around when
I was born, then. Oh, here we are at the bridge. I'm going
to shut my eyes tight. I'm always afraid going over
bridges. I can't help imagining that perhaps just as we
get to the middle, they'll crumple up like a jack-knife and
nip us. So I shut my eyes. But I always have to open them
for all when I think we're getting near the middle.
Because, you see, if the bridge DID crumple up I'd want to
SEE it crumple. What a jolly rumble it makes! I always
like the rumble part of it. Isn't it splendid there are so
many things to like in this world? There we're over. Now
I'll look back. Good night, dear Lake of Shining Waters. I
always say good night to the things I love, just as I would
to people I think they like it. That water looks as if it
was smiling at me."
When they had driven up the further hill and around a
corner Matthew said:
"We're pretty near home now. That's Green Gables over--"
"Oh, don't tell me," she interrupted breathlessly, catching
at his partially raised arm and shutting her eyes that she
might not see his gesture. "Let me guess. I'm sure I'll
She opened her eyes and looked about her. They were on the
crest of a hill. The sun had set some time since, but the
landscape was still clear in the mellow afterlight. To the
west a dark church spire rose up against a marigold sky.
Below was a little valley and beyond a long, gently-rising
slope with snug farmsteads scattered along it. From one to
another the child's eyes darted, eager and wistful. At last
they lingered on one away to the left, far back from the
road, dimly white with blossoming trees in the twilight of
the surrounding woods. Over it, in the stainless southwest
sky, a great crystal-white star was shining like a lamp of
guidance and promise.
"That's it, isn't it?" she said, pointing.
Matthew slapped the reins on the sorrel's back delightedly.
"Well now, you've guessed it! But I reckon Mrs. Spencer
described it so's you could tell."
"No, she didn't--really she didn't. All she said might just
as well have been about most of those other places. I
hadn't any real idea what it looked like. But just as soon
as I saw it I felt it was home. Oh, it seems as if I must
be in a dream. Do you know, my arm must be black and blue
from the elbow up, for I've pinched myself so many times
today. Every little while a horrible sickening feeling
would come over me and I'd be so afraid it was all a dream.
Then I'd pinch myself to see if it was real--until suddenly
I remembered that even supposing it was only a dream I'd
better go on dreaming as long as I could; so I stopped
pinching. But it IS real and we're nearly home."
With a sigh of rapture she relapsed into silence. Matthew
stirred uneasily. He felt glad that it would be Marilla and
not he who would have to tell this waif of the world that
the home she longed for was not to be hers after all. They
drove over Lynde's Hollow, where it was already quite dark,
but not so dark that Mrs. Rachel could not see them from her
window vantage, and up the hill and into the long lane of
Green Gables. By the time they arrived at the house Matthew
was shrinking from the approaching revelation with an energy
he did not understand. It was not of Marilla or himself he
was thinking of the trouble this mistake was probably going
to make for them, but of the child's disappointment. When
he thought of that rapt light being quenched in her eyes he
had an uncomfortable feeling that he was going to assist at
murdering something--much the same feeling that came over
him when he had to kill a lamb or calf or any other innocent
The yard was quite dark as they turned into it and the
poplar leaves were rustling silkily all round it.
"Listen to the trees talking in their sleep," she whispered, as
he lifted her to the ground. "What nice dreams they must have!"
Then, holding tightly to the carpet-bag which contained "all
her worldly goods," she followed him into the house.
Marilla Cuthbert is Surprised
Marilla came briskly forward as Matthew opened the door.
But when her eyes fell of the odd little figure in the
stiff, ugly dress, with the long braids of red hair and the
eager, luminous eyes, she stopped short in amazement.
"Matthew Cuthbert, who's that?" she ejaculated. "Where is
"There wasn't any boy," said Matthew wretchedly. "There was
He nodded at the child, remembering that he had never even
asked her name.
"No boy! But there MUST have been a boy," insisted Marilla.
"We sent word to Mrs. Spencer to bring a boy."
"Well, she didn't. She brought HER. I asked the station-
master. And I had to bring her home. She couldn't be left
there, no matter where the mistake had come in."
"Well, this is a pretty piece of business!" ejaculated Marilla.
During this dialogue the child had remained silent, her eyes
roving from one to the other, all the animation fading out
of her face. Suddenly she seemed to grasp the full meaning
of what had been said. Dropping her precious carpet-bag she
sprang forward a step and clasped her hands.
"You don't want me!" she cried. "You don't want me because
I'm not a boy! I might have expected it. Nobody ever did
want me. I might have known it was all too beautiful to last.
I might have known nobody really did want me. Oh, what shall
I do? I'm going to burst into tears!"
Burst into tears she did. Sitting down on a chair by the
table, flinging her arms out upon it, and burying her face
in them, she proceeded to cry stormily. Marilla and Matthew
looked at each other deprecatingly across the stove.
Neither of them knew what to say or do. Finally Marilla
stepped lamely into the breach.
"Well, well, there's no need to cry so about it."
"Yes, there IS need!" The child raised her head quickly,
revealing a tear-stained face and trembling lips. "YOU
would cry, too, if you were an orphan and had come to a
place you thought was going to be home and found that they
didn't want you because you weren't a boy. Oh, this is the
most TRAGICAL thing that ever happened to me!"
Something like a reluctant smile, rather rusty from long
disuse, mellowed Marilla's grim expression.
"Well, don't cry any more. We're not going to turn you out-
of-doors to-night. You'll have to stay here until we
investigate this affair. What's your name?"
The child hesitated for a moment.
"Will you please call me Cordelia?" she said eagerly.
"CALL you Cordelia? Is that your name?"
"No-o-o, it's not exactly my name, but I would love to be
called Cordelia. It's such a perfectly elegant name."
"I don't know what on earth you mean. If Cordelia isn't
your name, what is?"
"Anne Shirley," reluctantly faltered forth the owner of that
name, "but, oh, please do call me Cordelia. It can't matter
much to you what you call me if I'm only going to be here a
little while, can it? And Anne is such an unromantic name."
"Unromantic fiddlesticks!" said the unsympathetic Marilla.
"Anne is a real good plain sensible name. You've no need to
be ashamed of it."
"Oh, I'm not ashamed of it," explained Anne, "only I like
Cordelia better. I've always imagined that my name was
Cordelia--at least, I always have of late years. When I was
young I used to imagine it was Geraldine, but I like
Cordelia better now. But if you call me Anne please call me
Anne spelled with an E."
"What difference does it make how it's spelled?" asked Marilla
with another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot.
"Oh, it makes SUCH a difference. It LOOKS so much nicer.
When you hear a name pronounced can't you always see it in
your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n
looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished.
If you'll only call me Anne spelled with an E I shall try to
reconcile myself to not being called Cordelia."
"Very well, then, Anne spelled with an E, can you tell us how
this mistake came to be made? We sent word to Mrs. Spencer
to bring us a boy. Were there no boys at the asylum?"
"Oh, yes, there was an abundance of them. But Mrs. Spencer
said DISTINCTLY that you wanted a girl about eleven years
old. And the matron said she thought I would do. You don't
know how delighted I was. I couldn't sleep all last night
for joy. Oh," she added reproachfully, turning to Matthew,
"why didn't you tell me at the station that you didn't want
me and leave me there? If I hadn't seen the White Way of
Delight and the Lake of Shining Waters it wouldn't be so hard."
"What on earth does she mean?" demanded Marilla, staring
"She--she's just referring to some conversation we had on
the road," said Matthew hastily. "I'm going out to put the
mare in, Marilla. Have tea ready when I come back."
"Did Mrs. Spencer bring anybody over besides you?"
continued Marilla when Matthew had gone out.
"She brought Lily Jones for herself. Lily is only five years
old and she is very beautiful and had nut-brown hair. If I was
very beautiful and had nut-brown hair would you keep me?"
"No. We want a boy to help Matthew on the farm. A girl
would be of no use to us. Take off your hat. I'll lay it
and your bag on the hall table."
Anne took off her hat meekly. Matthew came back presently
and they sat down to supper. But Anne could not eat. In
vain she nibbled at the bread and butter and pecked at the
crab-apple preserve out of the little scalloped glass dish
by her plate. She did not really make any headway at all.
"You're not eating anything," said Marilla sharply, eying
her as if it were a serious shortcoming. Anne sighed.
"I can't. I'm in the depths of despair. Can you eat when
you are in the depths of despair?"
"I've never been in the depths of despair, so I can't say,"
"Weren't you? Well, did you ever try to IMAGINE you were in
the depths of despair?"
"No, I didn't."
"Then I don't think you can understand what it's like. It's
very uncomfortable feeling indeed. When you try to eat a lump
comes right up in your throat and you can't swallow anything,
not even if it was a chocolate caramel. I had one chocolate
caramel once two years ago and it was simply delicious. I've
often dreamed since then that I had a lot of chocolate caramels,
but I always wake up just when I'm going to eat them. I do hope
you won't be offended because I can't eat. Everything is
extremely nice, but still I cannot eat."
"I guess she's tired," said Matthew, who hadn't spoken since
his return from the barn. "Best put her to bed, Marilla."
Marilla had been wondering where Anne should be put to bed.
She had prepared a couch in the kitchen chamber for the
desired and expected boy. But, although it was neat and
clean, it did not seem quite the thing to put a girl there
somehow. But the spare room was out of the question for
such a stray waif, so there remained only the east gable
room. Marilla lighted a candle and told Anne to follow her,
which Anne spiritlessly did, taking her hat and carpet-bag
from the hall table as she passed. The hall was fearsomely
clean; the little gable chamber in which she presently found
herself seemed still cleaner.
Marilla set the candle on a three-legged, three-cornered
table and turned down the bedclothes.
"I suppose you have a nightgown?" she questioned.
"Yes, I have two. The matron of the asylum made them for
me. They're fearfully skimpy. There is never enough to go
around in an asylum, so things are always skimpy--at least
in a poor asylum like ours. I hate skimpy night-dresses.
But one can dream just as well in them as in lovely trailing
ones, with frills around the neck, that's one consolation."
"Well, undress as quick as you can and go to bed. I'll come
back in a few minutes for the candle. I daren't trust you
to put it out yourself. You'd likely set the place on fire."
When Marilla had gone Anne looked around her wistfully.
The whitewashed walls were so painfully bare and staring
that she thought they must ache over their own bareness.
The floor was bare, too, except for a round braided mat in
the middle such as Anne had never seen before. In one corner
was the bed, a high, old-fashioned one, with four dark, low-
turned posts. In the other corner was the aforesaid three-
corner table adorned with a fat, red velvet pin-cushion hard
enough to turn the point of the most adventurous pin. Above
it hung a little six-by-eight mirror. Midway between table
and bed was the window, with an icy white muslin frill over
it, and opposite it was the wash-stand. The whole apartment
was of a rigidity not to be described in words, but which
sent a shiver to the very marrow of Anne's bones. With a
sob she hastily discarded her garments, put on the skimpy
nightgown and sprang into bed where she burrowed face
downward into the pillow and pulled the clothes over her
head. When Marilla came up for the light various skimpy
articles of raiment scattered most untidily over the floor
and a certain tempestuous appearance of the bed were the
only indications of any presence save her own.
She deliberately picked up Anne's clothes, placed them
neatly on a prim yellow chair, and then, taking up the
candle, went over to the bed.
"Good night," she said, a little awkwardly, but not unkindly.
Anne's white face and big eyes appeared over the bedclothes
with a startling suddenness.
"How can you call it a GOOD night when you know it must be
the very worst night I've ever had?" she said reproachfully.
Then she dived down into invisibility again.
Marilla went slowly down to the kitchen and proceeded to
wash the supper dishes. Matthew was smoking--a sure sign of
perturbation of mind. He seldom smoked, for Marilla set her
face against it as a filthy habit; but at certain times and
seasons he felt driven to it and them Marilla winked at the
practice, realizing that a mere man must have some vent for
"Well, this is a pretty kettle of fish," she said
wrathfully. "This is what comes of sending word instead of
going ourselves. Richard Spencer's folks have twisted that
message somehow. One of us will have to drive over and see
Mrs. Spencer tomorrow, that's certain. This girl will have
to be sent back to the asylum."
"Yes, I suppose so," said Matthew reluctantly.
"You SUPPOSE so! Don't you know it?"
"Well now, she's a real nice little thing, Marilla. It's kind of
a pity to send her back when she's so set on staying here."
"Matthew Cuthbert, you don't mean to say you think we ought
to keep her!"
Marilla's astonishment could not have been greater if Matthew had
expressed a predilection for standing on his head.
"Well, now, no, I suppose not--not exactly," stammered Matthew,
uncomfortably driven into a corner for his precise meaning.
"I suppose--we could hardly be expected to keep her."
"I should say not. What good would she be to us?"
"We might be some good to her," said Matthew suddenly and
"Matthew Cuthbert, I believe that child has bewitched you!
I can see as plain as plain that you want to keep her."
"Well now, she's a real interesting little thing," persisted
Matthew. "You should have heard her talk coming from the
"Oh, she can talk fast enough. I saw that at once. It's
nothing in her favour, either. I don't like children who
have so much to say. I don't want an orphan girl and if I
did she isn't the style I'd pick out. There's something I
don't understand about her. No, she's got to be despatched
straight-way back to where she came from."
"I could hire a French boy to help me," said Matthew, "and
she'd be company for you."
"I'm not suffering for company," said Marilla shortly. "And
I'm not going to keep her."
"Well now, it's just as you say, of course, Marilla," said
Matthew rising and putting his pipe away. "I'm going to bed."
To bed went Matthew. And to bed, when she had put her
dishes away, went Marilla, frowning most resolutely. And
up-stairs, in the east gable, a lonely, heart-hungry,
friendless child cried herself to sleep.
Morning at Green Gables
It was broad daylight when Anne awoke and sat up in bed,
staring confusedly at the window through which a flood of
cheery sunshine was pouring and outside of which something
white and feathery waved across glimpses of blue sky.
For a moment she could not remember where she was. First
came a delightful thrill, as something very pleasant; then a
horrible remembrance. This was Green Gables and they didn't
want her because she wasn't a boy!
But it was morning and, yes, it was a cherry-tree in full
bloom outside of her window. With a bound she was out of
bed and across the floor. She pushed up the sash--it went
up stiffly and creakily, as if it hadn't been opened for a
long time, which was the case; and it stuck so tight that
nothing was needed to hold it up.
Anne dropped on her knees and gazed out into the June
morning, her eyes glistening with delight. Oh, wasn't it
beautiful? Wasn't it a lovely place? Suppose she wasn't
really going to stay here! She would imagine she was.
There was scope for imagination here.
A huge cherry-tree grew outside, so close that its boughs
tapped against the house, and it was so thick-set with
blossoms that hardly a leaf was to be seen. On both sides
of the house was a big orchard, one of apple-trees and one
of cherry-trees, also showered over with blossoms; and their
grass was all sprinkled with dandelions. In the garden below
were lilac-trees purple with flowers, and their dizzily
sweet fragrance drifted up to the window on the morning
Below the garden a green field lush with clover sloped down
to the hollow where the brook ran and where scores of white
birches grew, upspringing airily out of an undergrowth
suggestive of delightful possibilities in ferns and mosses
and woodsy things generally. Beyond it was a hill, green
and feathery with spruce and fir; there was a gap in it
where the gray gable end of the little house she had seen
from the other side of the Lake of Shining Waters was visible.
Off to the left were the big barns and beyond them, away
down over green, low-sloping fields, was a sparkling blue
glimpse of sea.
Anne's beauty-loving eyes lingered on it all, taking everything
greedily in. She had looked on so many unlovely places in her life,
poor child; but this was as lovely as anything she had ever dreamed.
She knelt there, lost to everything but the loveliness
around her, until she was startled by a hand on her
shoulder. Marilla had come in unheard by the small dreamer.
"It's time you were dressed," she said curtly.
Marilla really did not know how to talk to the child, and
her uncomfortable ignorance made her crisp and curt when she
did not mean to be.
Anne stood up and drew a long breath.
"Oh, isn't it wonderful?" she said, waving her hand
comprehensively at the good world outside.
"It's a big tree," said Marilla, "and it blooms great, but
the fruit don't amount to much never--small and wormy."
"Oh, I don't mean just the tree; of course it's lovely--yes,
it's RADIANTLY lovely--it blooms as if it meant it--but I
meant everything, the garden and the orchard and the brook
and the woods, the whole big dear world. Don't you feel as
if you just loved the world on a morning like this? And I
can hear the brook laughing all the way up here. Have you
ever noticed what cheerful things brooks are? They're
always laughing. Even in winter-time I've heard them under
the ice. I'm so glad there's a brook near Green Gables.
Perhaps you think it doesn't make any difference to me when
you're not going to keep me, but it does. I shall always
like to remember that there is a brook at Green Gables even
if I never see it again. If there wasn't a brook I'd be
HAUNTED by the uncomfortable feeling that there ought to be
one. I'm not in the depths of despair this morning. I
never can be in the morning. Isn't it a splendid thing that
there are mornings? But I feel very sad. I've just been
imagining that it was really me you wanted after all and
that I was to stay here for ever and ever. It was a great
comfort while it lasted. But the worst of imagining things
is that the time comes when you have to stop and that hurts."
"You'd better get dressed and come down-stairs and never
mind your imaginings," said Marilla as soon as she could get
a word in edgewise. "Breakfast is waiting. Wash your face
and comb your hair. Leave the window up and turn your bedclothes
back over the foot of the bed. Be as smart as you can."
Anne could evidently be smart so some purpose for she was
down-stairs in ten minutes' time, with her clothes neatly
on, her hair brushed and braided, her face washed, and a
comfortable consciousness pervading her soul that she had
fulfilled all Marilla's requirements. As a matter of fact,
however, she had forgotten to turn back the bedclothes.
"I'm pretty hungry this morning," she announced as she
slipped into the chair Marilla placed for her. "The world
doesn't seem such a howling wilderness as it did last night.
I'm so glad it's a sunshiny morning. But I like rainy
mornings real well, too. All sorts of mornings are
interesting, don't you think? You don't know what's going
to happen through the day, and there's so much scope for
imagination. But I'm glad it's not rainy today because
it's easier to be cheerful and bear up under affliction on a
sunshiny day. I feel that I have a good deal to bear up
under. It's all very well to read about sorrows and imagine
yourself living through them heroically, but it's not so
nice when you really come to have them, is it?"
"For pity's sake hold your tongue," said Marilla. "You talk
entirely too much for a little girl."
Thereupon Anne held her tongue so obediently and thoroughly
that her continued silence made Marilla rather nervous, as
if in the presence of something not exactly natural.
Matthew also held his tongue,--but this was natural,--so
that the meal was a very silent one.
As it progressed Anne became more and more abstracted,
eating mechanically, with her big eyes fixed unswervingly
and unseeingly on the sky outside the window. This made
Marilla more nervous than ever; she had an uncomfortable
feeling that while this odd child's body might be there at
the table her spirit was far away in some remote airy
cloudland, borne aloft on the wings of imagination. Who
would want such a child about the place?
Yet Matthew wished to keep her, of all unaccountable things!
Marilla felt that he wanted it just as much this morning as
he had the night before, and that he would go on wanting it.
That was Matthew's way--take a whim into his head and cling
to it with the most amazing silent persistency--a
persistency ten times more potent and effectual in its very
silence than if he had talked it out.
When the meal was ended Anne came out of her reverie and
offered to wash the dishes.
"Can you wash dishes right?" asked Marilla distrustfully.
"Pretty well. I'm better at looking after children, though.
I've had so much experience at that. It's such a pity you
haven't any here for me to look after."
"I don't feel as if I wanted any more children to look after
than I've got at present. YOU'RE problem enough in all
conscience. What's to be done with you I don't know.
Matthew is a most ridiculous man."
"I think he's lovely," said Anne reproachfully. "He is so
very sympathetic. He didn't mind how much I talked--he
seemed to like it. I felt that he was a kindred spirit as
soon as ever I saw him."
"You're both queer enough, if that's what you mean by
kindred spirits," said Marilla with a sniff. "Yes, you may
wash the dishes. Take plenty of hot water, and be sure you
dry them well. I've got enough to attend to this morning
for I'll have to drive over to White Sands in the afternoon
and see Mrs. Spencer. You'll come with me and we'll settle
what's to be done with you. After you've finished the
dishes go up-stairs and make your bed."
Anne washed the dishes deftly enough, as Marilla who kept a
sharp eye on the process, discerned. Later on she made her
bed less successfully, for she had never learned the art of
wrestling with a feather tick. But is was done somehow and
smoothed down; and then Marilla, to get rid of her, told her
she might go out-of-doors and amuse herself until dinner time.
Anne flew to the door, face alight, eyes glowing. On the
very threshold she stopped short, wheeled about, came back
and sat down by the table, light and glow as effectually
blotted out as if some one had clapped an extinguisher on her.
"What's the matter now?" demanded Marilla.
"I don't dare go out," said Anne, in the tone of a martyr
relinquishing all earthly joys. "If I can't stay here there
is no use in my loving Green Gables. And if I go out there
and get acquainted with all those trees and flowers and the
orchard and the brook I'll not be able to help loving it.
It's hard enough now, so I won't make it any harder. I want
to go out so much--everything seems to be calling to me,
`Anne, Anne, come out to us. Anne, Anne, we want a
playmate'--but it's better not. There is no use in loving
things if you have to be torn from them, is there? And it's
so hard to keep from loving things, isn't it? That was why
I was so glad when I thought I was going to live here. I
thought I'd have so many things to love and nothing to
hinder me. But that brief dream is over. I am resigned to
my fate now, so I don't think I'll go out for fear I'll get
unresigned again. What is the name of that geranium on the
"That's the apple-scented geranium."
"Oh, I don't mean that sort of a name. I mean just a name
you gave it yourself. Didn't you give it a name? May I
give it one then? May I call it--let me see--Bonny would
do--may I call it Bonny while I'm here? Oh, do let me!"
"Goodness, I don't care. But where on earth is the sense of
naming a geranium?"
"Oh, I like things to have handles even if they are only
geraniums. It makes them seem more like people. How do you
know but that it hurts a geranium's feelings just to be
called a geranium and nothing else? You wouldn't like to be
called nothing but a woman all the time. Yes, I shall call
it Bonny. I named that cherry-tree outside my bedroom
window this morning. I called it Snow Queen because it was
so white. Of course, it won't always be in blossom, but one
can imagine that it is, can't one?"
"I never in all my life say or heard anything to equal her,"
muttered Marilla, beating a retreat down to the cellar after
potatoes. "She is kind of interesting as Matthew says. I
can feel already that I'm wondering what on earth she'll say
next. She'll be casting a spell over me, too. She's cast
it over Matthew. That look he gave me when he went out said
everything he said or hinted last night over again. I wish
he was like other men and would talk things out. A body
could answer back then and argue him into reason. But
what's to be done with a man who just LOOKS?"
Anne had relapsed into reverie, with her chin in her hands
and her eyes on the sky, when Marilla returned from her
cellar pilgrimage. There Marilla left her until the early
dinner was on the table.
"I suppose I can have the mare and buggy this afternoon,
Matthew?" said Marilla.
Matthew nodded and looked wistfully at Anne. Marilla
intercepted the look and said grimly:
"I'm going to drive over to White Sands and settle this
thing. I'll take Anne with me and Mrs. Spencer will
probably make arrangements to send her back to Nova Scotia
at once. I'll set your tea out for you and I'll be home in
time to milk the cows."
Still Matthew said nothing and Marilla had a sense of having
wasted words and breath. There is nothing more aggravating
than a man who won't talk back--unless it is a woman who won't.
Matthew hitched the sorrel into the buggy in due time and
Marilla and Anne set off. Matthew opened the yard gate for
them and as they drove slowly through, he said, to nobody in
particular as it seemed:
"Little Jerry Buote from the Creek was here this morning,
and I told him I guessed I'd hire him for the summer."
Marilla made no reply, but she hit the unlucky sorrel such a
vicious clip with the whip that the fat mare, unused to such
treatment, whizzed indignantly down the lane at an alarming
pace. Marilla looked back once as the buggy bounced along
and saw that aggravating Matthew leaning over the gate,
looking wistfully after them.
"Do you know," said Anne confidentially, "I've made up
my mind to enjoy this drive. It's been my experience that
you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind
firmly that you will. Of course, you must make it up
FIRMLY. I am not going to think about going back to the
asylum while we're having our drive. I'm just going to
think about the drive. Oh, look, there's one little early
wild rose out! Isn't it lovely? Don't you think it must be
glad to be a rose? Wouldn't it be nice if roses could talk?
I'm sure they could tell us such lovely things. And isn't
pink the most bewitching color in the world? I love it, but
I can't wear it. Redheaded people can't wear pink, not
even in imagination. Did you ever know of anybody whose
hair was red when she was young, but got to be another
color when she grew up?"
"No, I don't know as I ever did," said Marilla mercilessly,
"and I shouldn't think it likely to happen in your case either."
"Well, that is another hope gone. `My life is a perfect
graveyard of buried hopes.' That's a sentence I read in a
book once, and I say it over to comfort myself whenever
I'm disappointed in anything."
"I don't see where the comforting comes in myself,"
"Why, because it sounds so nice and romantic, just as if
I were a heroine in a book, you know. I am so fond of
romantic things, and a graveyard full of buried hopes is
about as romantic a thing as one can imagine isn't it? I'm
rather glad I have one. Are we going across the Lake of
Shining Waters today?"
"We're not going over Barry's pond, if that's what you
mean by your Lake of Shining Waters. We're going by the
"Shore road sounds nice," said Anne dreamily. "Is it as
nice as it sounds? Just when you said `shore road' I saw it
in a picture in my mind, as quick as that! And White
Sands is a pretty name, too; but I don't like it as well as
Avonlea. Avonlea is a lovely name. It just sounds like
music. How far is it to White Sands?"
"It's five miles; and as you're evidently bent on talking
you might as well talk to some purpose by telling me what
you know about yourself."
"Oh, what I KNOW about myself isn't really worth telling,"
said Anne eagerly. "If you'll only let me tell you
what I IMAGINE about myself you'll think it ever so much
"No, I don't want any of your imaginings. Just you stick
to bald facts. Begin at the beginning. Where were you
born and how old are you?"
"I was eleven last March," said Anne, resigning herself
to bald facts with a little sigh. "And I was born in
Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia. My father's name was Walter
Shirley, and he was a teacher in the Bolingbroke High
School. My mother's name was Bertha Shirley. Aren't
Walter and Bertha lovely names? I'm so glad my parents
had nice names. It would be a real disgrace to have a
father named--well, say Jedediah, wouldn't it?"
"I guess it doesn't matter what a person's name is as
long as he behaves himself," said Marilla, feeling herself
called upon to inculcate a good and useful moral.
"Well, I don't know." Anne looked thoughtful. "I read
in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell
as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't
believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle
or a skunk cabbage. I suppose my father could have been a
good man even if he had been called Jedediah; but I'm
sure it would have been a cross. Well, my mother was a
teacher in the High school, too, but when she married
father she gave up teaching, of course. A husband was
enough responsibility. Mrs. Thomas said that they were a
pair of babies and as poor as church mice. They went to
live in a weeny-teeny little yellow house in Bolingbroke.
I've never seen that house, but I've imagined it thousands
of times. I think it must have had honeysuckle over the
parlor window and lilacs in the front yard and lilies of the
valley just inside the gate. Yes, and muslin curtains in
all the windows. Muslin curtains give a house such an air.
I was born in that house. Mrs. Thomas said I was the
homeliest baby she ever saw, I was so scrawny and tiny
and nothing but eyes, but that mother thought I was
perfectly beautiful. I should think a mother would be a
better judge than a poor woman who came in to scrub,
wouldn't you? I'm glad she was satisfied with me anyhow,
I would feel so sad if I thought I was a disappointment to
her--because she didn't live very long after that, you see.
She died of fever when I was just three months old. I do
wish she'd lived long enough for me to remember calling
her mother. I think it would be so sweet to say `mother,'
don't you? And father died four days afterwards from
fever too. That left me an orphan and folks were at their
wits' end, so Mrs. Thomas said, what to do with me. You
see, nobody wanted me even then. It seems to be my fate.
Father and mother had both come from places far away
and it was well known they hadn't any relatives living.
Finally Mrs. Thomas said she'd take me, though she was
poor and had a drunken husband. She brought me up by
hand. Do you know if there is anything in being brought
up by hand that ought to make people who are brought up
that way better than other people? Because whenever I
was naughty Mrs. Thomas would ask me how I could be
such a bad girl when she had brought me up by hand--
"Mr. and Mrs. Thomas moved away from Bolingbroke
to Marysville, and I lived with them until I was eight
years old. I helped look after the Thomas children--there
were four of them younger than me--and I can tell you
they took a lot of looking after. Then Mr. Thomas was
killed falling under a train and his mother offered to take
Mrs. Thomas and the children, but she didn't want me.
Mrs. Thomas was at HER wits' end, so she said, what to do
with me. Then Mrs. Hammond from up the river came
down and said she'd take me, seeing I was handy with
children, and I went up the river to live with her in a
little clearing among the stumps. It was a very lonesome
place. I'm sure I could never have lived there if I hadn't
had an imagination. Mr. Hammond worked a little sawmill
up there, and Mrs. Hammond had eight children. She had
twins three times. I like babies in moderation, but twins
three times in succession is TOO MUCH. I told Mrs.
Hammond so firmly, when the last pair came. I used to get
so dreadfully tired carrying them about.
"I lived up river with Mrs. Hammond over two years,
and then Mr. Hammond died and Mrs. Hammond broke up
housekeeping. She divided her children among her relatives
and went to the States. I had to go to the asylum at
Hopeton, because nobody would take me. They didn't
want me at the asylum, either; they said they were over-
crowded as it was. But they had to take me and I was
there four months until Mrs. Spencer came."
Anne finished up with another sigh, of relief this time.
Evidently she did not like talking about her experiences in
a world that had not wanted her.
"Did you ever go to school?" demanded Marilla, turning
the sorrel mare down the shore road.
"Not a great deal. I went a little the last year I stayed
with Mrs. Thomas. When I went up river we were so far
from a school that I couldn't walk it in winter and there
was a vacation in summer, so I could only go in the spring
and fall. But of course I went while I was at the asylum.
I can read pretty well and I know ever so many pieces of
poetry off by heart--`The Battle of Hohenlinden' and
`Edinburgh after Flodden,' and `Bingen of the Rhine,' and
lost of the `Lady of the Lake' and most of `The Seasons' by
James Thompson. Don't you just love poetry that gives
you a crinkly feeling up and down your back? There is a
piece in the Fifth Reader--`The Downfall of Poland'--that
is just full of thrills. Of course, I wasn't in the Fifth
Reader--I was only in the Fourth--but the big girls used
to lend me theirs to read."
"Were those women--Mrs. Thomas and Mrs. Hammond--good to
you?" asked Marilla, looking at Anne out of the corner
of her eye.
"O-o-o-h," faltered Anne. Her sensitive little face
suddenly flushed scarlet and embarrassment sat on her brow.
"Oh, they MEANT to be--I know they meant to be just as
good and kind as possible. And when people mean to be
good to you, you don't mind very much when they're not
quite--always. They had a good deal to worry them, you
know. It's very trying to have a drunken husband, you see;
and it must be very trying to have twins three times in
succession, don't you think? But I feel sure they meant
to be good to me."
Marilla asked no more questions. Anne gave herself up
to a silent rapture over the shore road and Marilla guided
the sorrel abstractedly while she pondered deeply. Pity
was suddenly stirring in her heart for the child. What a
starved, unloved life she had had--a life of drudgery and
poverty and neglect; for Marilla was shrewd enough to
read between the lines of Anne's history and divine the
truth. No wonder she had been so delighted at the prospect
of a real home. It was a pity she had to be sent back.
What if she, Marilla, should indulge Matthew's unaccountable
whim and let her stay? He was set on it; and the child
seemed a nice, teachable little thing.
"She's got too much to say," thought Marilla, "but she
might be trained out of that. And there's nothing rude or
slangy in what she does say. She's ladylike. It's likely
her people were nice folks."
The shore road was "woodsy and wild and lonesome."
On the right hand, scrub firs, their spirits quite unbroken
by long years of tussle with the gulf winds, grew thickly.
On the left were the steep red sandstone cliffs, so near the
track in places that a mare of less steadiness than the
sorrel might have tried the nerves of the people behind
her. Down at the base of the cliffs were heaps of surf-worn
rocks or little sandy coves inlaid with pebbles as with
ocean jewels; beyond lay the sea, shimmering and blue,
and over it soared the gulls, their pinions flashing silvery
in the sunlight.
"Isn't the sea wonderful?" said Anne, rousing from a
long, wide-eyed silence. "Once, when I lived in Marysville,
Mr. Thomas hired an express wagon and took us all to
spend the day at the shore ten miles away. I enjoyed
every moment of that day, even if I had to look after the
children all the time. I lived it over in happy dreams for
years. But this shore is nicer than the Marysville shore.
Aren't those gulls splendid? Would you like to be a gull?
I think I would--that is, if I couldn't be a human girl.
Don't you think it would be nice to wake up at sunrise and
swoop down over the water and away out over that lovely
blue all day; and then at night to fly back to one's nest?
Oh, I can just imagine myself doing it. What big house is
that just ahead, please?"
"That's the White Sands Hotel. Mr. Kirke runs it, but
the season hasn't begun yet. There are heaps of Americans
come there for the summer. They think this shore is just
"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."
Marilla Makes Up Her Mind
Get there they did, however, in due season. Mrs. Spencer
lived in a big yellow house at White Sands Cove, and she
came to the door with surprise and welcome mingled on
her benevolent face.
"Dear, dear," she exclaimed, "you're the last folks I was
looking for today, but I'm real glad to see you. You'll put
your horse in? And how are you, Anne?"
"I'm as well as can be expected, thank you," said Anne
smilelessly. A blight seemed to have descended on her.
"I suppose we'll stay a little while to rest the mare,"
said Marilla, "but I promised Matthew I'd be home early.
The fact is, Mrs. Spencer, there's been a queer mistake
somewhere, and I've come over to see where it is. We
send word, Matthew and I, for you to bring us a boy from
the asylum. We told your brother Robert to tell you we
wanted a boy ten or eleven years old."
"Marilla Cuthbert, you don't say so!" said Mrs. Spencer
in distress. "Why, Robert sent word down by his
daughter Nancy and she said you wanted a girl--didn't
she Flora Jane?" appealing to her daughter who had come
out to the steps.
"She certainly did, Miss Cuthbert," corroborated Flora
I'm dreadful sorry," said Mrs. Spencer. "It's too bad;
but it certainly wasn't my fault, you see, Miss Cuthbert.
I did the best I could and I thought I was following your
instructions. Nancy is a terrible flighty thing. I've
often had to scold her well for her heedlessness."
"It was our own fault," said Marilla resignedly. "We
should have come to you ourselves and not left an important
message to be passed along by word of mouth in that
fashion. Anyhow, the mistake has been made and the only
thing to do is to set it right. Can we send the child
back to the asylum? I suppose they'll take her back,
"I suppose so," said Mrs. Spencer thoughtfully, "but I
don't think it will be necessary to send her back. Mrs.
Peter Blewett was up here yesterday, and she was saying
to me how much she wished she'd sent by me for a little
girl to help her. Mrs. Peter has a large family, you know,
and she finds it hard to get help. Anne will be the very
girl for you. I call it positively providential."
Marilla did not look as if she thought Providence had
much to do with the matter. Here was an unexpectedly
good chance to get this unwelcome orphan off her hands,
and she did not even feel grateful for it.
She knew Mrs. Peter Blewett only by sight as a small,
shrewish-faced woman without an ounce of superfluous
flesh on her bones. But she had heard of her. "A terrible
worker and driver," Mrs. Peter was said to be; and discharged
servant girls told fearsome tales of her temper and stinginess,
and her family of pert, quarrelsome children. Marilla felt a
qualm of conscience at the thought of handing Anne over to her
"Well, I'll go in and we'll talk the matter over," she said.
"And if there isn't Mrs. Peter coming up the lane this
blessed minute!" exclaimed Mrs. Spencer, bustling her
guests through the hall into the parlor, where a deadly
chill struck on them as if the air had been strained so long
through dark green, closely drawn blinds that it had lost
every particle of warmth it had ever possessed. "That is
real lucky, for we can settle the matter right away. Take
the armchair, Miss Cuthbert. Anne, you sit here on the
ottoman and don't wiggle. Let me take your hats. Flora
Jane, go out and put the kettle on. Good afternoon, Mrs.
Blewett. We were just saying how fortunate it was you
happened along. Let me introduce you two ladies. Mrs.
Blewett, Miss Cuthbert. Please excuse me for just a moment.
I forgot to tell Flora Jane to take the buns out of the oven."
Mrs. Spencer whisked away, after pulling up the blinds.
Anne sitting mutely on the ottoman, with her hands
clasped tightly in her lap, stared at Mrs Blewett as one
fascinated. Was she to be given into the keeping of this
sharp-faced, sharp-eyed woman? She felt a lump coming up in
her throat and her eyes smarted painfully. She was beginning
to be afraid she couldn't keep the tears back when Mrs. Spencer
returned, flushed and beaming, quite capable of taking any and
every difficulty, physical, mental or spiritual, into
consideration and settling it out of hand.
"It seems there's been a mistake about this little girl,
Mrs. Blewett," she said. "I was under the impression that
Mr. and Miss Cuthbert wanted a little girl to adopt. I was
certainly told so. But it seems it was a boy they wanted.
So if you're still of the same mind you were yesterday, I
think she'll be just the thing for you."
Mrs. Blewett darted her eyes over Anne from head to foot.
"How old are you and what's your name?" she demanded.
"Anne Shirley," faltered the shrinking child, not daring
to make any stipulations regarding the spelling thereof,
"and I'm eleven years old."
"Humph! You don't look as if there was much to you.
But you're wiry. I don't know but the wiry ones are the
best after all. Well, if I take you you'll have to be a
good girl, you know--good and smart and respectful. I'll
expect you to earn your keep, and no mistake about that.
Yes, I suppose I might as well take her off your hands, Miss
Cuthbert. The baby's awful fractious, and I'm clean worn out
attending to him. If you like I can take her right home now."
Marilla looked at Anne and softened at sight of the
child's pale face with its look of mute misery--the misery
of a helpless little creature who finds itself once more
caught in the trap from which it had escaped. Marilla felt
an uncomfortable conviction that, if she denied the appeal
of that look, it would haunt her to her dying day. More-
over, she did not fancy Mrs. Blewett. To hand a sensitive,
"highstrung" child over to such a woman! No, she could
not take the responsibility of doing that!
"Well, I don't know," she said slowly. "I didn't say that
Matthew and I had absolutely decided that we wouldn't
keep her. In fact I may say that Matthew is disposed to
keep her. I just came over to find out how the mistake had
occurred. I think I'd better take her home again and talk
it over with Matthew. I feel that I oughtn't to decide on
anything without consulting him. If we make up our mind
not to keep her we'll bring or send her over to you
tomorrow night. If we don't you may know that she is
going to stay with us. Will that suit you, Mrs. Blewett?"
"I suppose it'll have to," said Mrs. Blewett ungraciously.
During Marilla's speech a sunrise had been dawning on
Anne's face. First the look of despair faded out; then came
a faint flush of hope; here eyes grew deep and bright as
morning stars. The child was quite transfigured; and, a
moment later, when Mrs. Spencer and Mrs. Blewett went
out in quest of a recipe the latter had come to borrow she
sprang up and flew across the room to Marilla.
"Oh, Miss Cuthbert, did you really say that perhaps you would
let me stay at Green Gables?" she said, in a breathless whisper,
as if speaking aloud might shatter the glorious possibility.
"Did you really say it? Or did I only imagine that you did?"
"I think you'd better learn to control that imagination of
yours, Anne, if you can't distinguish between what is real
and what isn't," said Marilla crossly. "Yes, you did hear
me say just that and no more. It isn't decided yet and
perhaps we will conclude to let Mrs. Blewett take you after
all. She certainly needs you much more than I do."
"I'd rather go back to the asylum than go to live with her," said
Anne passionately. "She looks exactly like a--like a gimlet."
Marilla smothered a smile under the conviction that Anne
must be reproved for such a speech.
"A little girl like you should be ashamed of talking so
about a lady and a stranger," she said severely. "Go back
and sit down quietly and hold your tongue and behave as a
good girl should."
"I'll try to do and be anything you want me, if you'll
only keep me," said Anne, returning meekly to her ottoman.
When they arrived back at Green Gables that evening
Matthew met them in the lane. Marilla from afar had noted
him prowling along it and guessed his motive. She was
prepared for the relief she read in his face when he saw
that she had at least brought back Anne back with her. But
she said nothing, to him, relative to the affair, until they
were both out in the yard behind the barn milking the
cows. Then she briefly told him Anne's history and the
result of the interview with Mrs. Spencer.
"I wouldn't give a dog I liked to that Blewett woman,"
said Matthew with unusual vim."
"I don't fancy her style myself," admitted Marilla, "but
it's that or keeping her ourselves, Matthew. And since
you seem to want her, I suppose I'm willing--or have to
be. I've been thinking over the idea until I've got kind of
used to it. It seems a sort of duty. I've never brought up
a child, especially a girl, and I dare say I'll make a
terrible mess of it. But I'll do my best. So far as I'm
concerned, Matthew, she may stay."
Matthew's shy face was a glow of delight.
"Well now, I reckoned you'd come to see it in that light,
Marilla," he said. "She's such an interesting little thing."
"It'd be more to the point if you could say she was a
useful little thing," retorted Marilla, "but I'll make it
my business to see she's trained to be that. And mind,
Matthew, you're not to go interfering with my methods.
Perhaps an old maid doesn't know much about bringing up
a child, but I guess she knows more than an old bachelor.
So you just leave me to manage her. When I fail it'll be
time enough to put your oar in."
"There, there, Marilla, you can have your own way," said
Matthew reassuringly. "Only be as good and kind to her
as you can without spoiling her. I kind of think she's
one of the sort you can do anything with if you only get
her to love you."
Marilla sniffed, to express her contempt for Matthew's
opinions concerning anything feminine, and walked off to
the dairy with the pails.
"I won't tell her tonight that she can stay," she reflected,
as she strained the milk into the creamers. "She'd be so
excited that she wouldn't sleep a wink. Marilla Cuthbert,
you're fairly in for it. Did you ever suppose you'd see
the day when you'd be adopting an orphan girl? It's
surprising enough; but not so surprising as that Matthew
should be at the bottom of it, him that always seemed
to have such a mortal dread of little girls. Anyhow,
we've decided on the experiment and goodness only knows
what will come of it."