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Anne Of Green Gables

Anne Of Green Gables

Author:L. M. Montgomery


Girls can not be beautiful, but they must have stars pure, good heart. Anne is one such girl. She has a wealth of imagination, all the extraordinary things in her eyes are fun; her desire affection and friendship, because when one-year-old Annie has lost their parents, 11 in the orphanage until she has no friends; her appearance and not beauty, a red hair, his cheeks full of freckles on Health, but God is fair to her, given her the hearts of those who love nature.
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  MRS. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped downinto a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies’ eardrops andtraversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of theold Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brookin its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pooland 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; itprobably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window,keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and childrenup, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would neverrest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof.

  There are plenty of people in Avonlea and out of it, who can attendclosely to their neighbor’s business by dint of neglecting their own;but Mrs. Rachel Lynde was one of those capable creatures who can managetheir own concerns and those of other folks into the bargain. She was anotable housewife; her work was always done and well done; she “ran” theSewing Circle, helped run the Sunday-school, and was the strongest propof the Church Aid Society and Foreign Missions Auxiliary. Yet with allthis Mrs. Rachel found abundant time to sit for hours at her kitchenwindow, knitting “cotton warp” quilts--she had knitted sixteen of them,as Avonlea housekeepers were wont to tell in awed voices--and keepinga sharp eye on the main road that crossed the hollow and wound upthe steep red hill beyond. Since Avonlea occupied a little triangularpeninsula jutting out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence with water on twosides of it, anybody who went out of it or into it had to pass over thathill road and so run the unseen gauntlet of Mrs. Rachel’s all-seeingeye.

  She was sitting there one afternoon in early June. The sun was coming inat the window warm and bright; the orchard on the slope below the housewas in a bridal flush of pinky-white bloom, hummed over by a myriad ofbees. Thomas Lynde--a meek little man whom Avonlea people called “RachelLynde’s husband”--was sowing his late turnip seed on the hill fieldbeyond the barn; and Matthew Cuthbert ought to have been sowing his onthe big red brook field away over by Green Gables. Mrs. Rachel knewthat he ought because she had heard him tell Peter Morrison the eveningbefore in William J. Blair’s store over at Carmody that he meant to sowhis turnip seed the next afternoon. Peter had asked him, of course, forMatthew Cuthbert had never been known to volunteer information aboutanything in his whole life.

  And yet here was Matthew Cuthbert, at half-past three on the afternoonof 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 wasplain proof that he was going out of Avonlea; and he had the buggyand the sorrel mare, which betokened that he was going a considerabledistance. Now, where was Matthew Cuthbert going and why was he goingthere?

  Had it been any other man in Avonlea, Mrs. Rachel, deftly putting thisand that together, might have given a pretty good guess as to bothquestions. But Matthew so rarely went from home that it must besomething pressing and unusual which was taking him; he was the shyestman alive and hated to have to go among strangers or to any place wherehe might have 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, could make nothing of it and her afternoon’senjoyment was spoiled.

  “I’ll just step over to Green Gables after tea and find out from Marillawhere he’s gone and why,” the worthy woman finally concluded. “Hedoesn’t generally go to town this time of year and he _never_ visits; ifhe’d run out of turnip seed he wouldn’t dress up and take the buggy togo 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’mclean puzzled, that’s what, and I won’t know a minute’s peace of mind orconscience until I know what has taken Matthew Cuthbert out of Avonleatoday.”

  Accordingly after tea Mrs. Rachel set out; she had not far to go; thebig, rambling, orchard-embowered house where the Cuthberts lived was ascant quarter of a mile up the road from Lynde’s Hollow. To be sure, thelong lane made it a good deal further. Matthew Cuthbert’s father, asshy and silent as his son after him, had got as far away as he possiblycould from his fellow men without actually retreating into the woodswhen he founded his homestead. Green Gables was built at the furthestedge of his cleared land and there it was to this day, barely visiblefrom the main road along which all the other Avonlea houses were sosociably 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 thedeep-rutted, grassy lane bordered with wild rose bushes. “It’s no wonderMatthew and Marilla are both a little odd, living away back here bythemselves. Trees aren’t much company, though dear knows if they werethere’d be enough of them. I’d ruther look at people. To be sure, theyseem contented enough; but then, I suppose, they’re used to it. A bodycan 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 GreenGables. Very green and neat and precise was that yard, set about on oneside with great patriarchal willows and the other with prim Lombardies.Not a stray stick nor stone was to be seen, for Mrs. Rachel would haveseen it if there had been. Privately she was of the opinion that MarillaCuthbert swept that yard over as often as she swept her house. One couldhave eaten a meal off the ground without over-brimming the proverbialpeck of dirt.

  Mrs. Rachel rapped smartly at the kitchen door and stepped inwhen bidden to do so. The kitchen at Green Gables was a cheerfulapartment--or would have been cheerful if it had not been so painfullyclean as to give it something of the appearance of an unused parlor. Itswindows looked east and west; through the west one, looking out onthe 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 leftorchard and nodding, slender birches down in the hollow by the brook,was greened over by a tangle of vines. Here sat Marilla Cuthbert, whenshe sat at all, always slightly distrustful of sunshine, which seemed toher too dancing and irresponsible a thing for a world which was meant tobe taken seriously; and here she sat now, knitting, and the table behindher was laid for supper.

  Mrs. Rachel, before she had fairly closed the door, had taken a mentalnote 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; butthe dishes were everyday dishes and there was only crab-apple preservesand one kind of cake, so that the expected company could not be anyparticular company. Yet what of Matthew’s white collar and the sorrelmare? Mrs. Rachel was getting fairly dizzy with this unusual mysteryabout quiet, unmysterious Green Gables.

  “Good evening, Rachel,” Marilla said briskly. “This is a real fineevening, isn’t it? Won’t you sit down? How are all your folks?”

  Something that for lack of any other name might be called friendshipexisted 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 darkhair showed some gray streaks and was always twisted up in a hard littleknot behind with two wire hairpins stuck aggressively through it. Shelooked like a woman of narrow experience and rigid conscience, which shewas; but there was a saving something about her mouth which, if it hadbeen ever so slightly developed, might have been considered indicativeof 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 maybehe 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 sounaccountably would be too much for her neighbor’s curiosity.

  “Oh, no, I’m quite well although I had a bad headache yesterday,” shesaid. “Matthew went to Bright River. We’re getting a little boy from anorphan 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 akangaroo from Australia Mrs. Rachel could not have been more astonished.She was actually stricken dumb for five seconds. It was unsupposablethat Marilla was making fun of her, but Mrs. Rachel was almost forced tosuppose it.

  “Are you in earnest, Marilla?” she demanded when voice returned to her.

  “Yes, of course,” said Marilla, as if getting boys from orphan asylumsin Nova Scotia were part of the usual spring work on any well-regulatedAvonlea farm instead of being an unheard of innovation.

  Mrs. Rachel felt that she had received a severe mental jolt. She thoughtin exclamation points. A boy! Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of all peopleadopting a boy! From an orphan asylum! Well, the world was certainlyturning upside down! She would be surprised at nothing after this!Nothing!

  “What on earth put such a notion into your head?” she demandeddisapprovingly.

  This had been done without her advice being asked, and must perforce bedisapproved.

  “Well, we’ve been thinking about it for some time--all winter in fact,”returned Marilla. “Mrs. Alexander Spencer was up here one day beforeChristmas and she said she was going to get a little girl from theasylum 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 havetalked it over off and on ever since. We thought we’d get a boy. Matthewis getting up in years, you know--he’s sixty--and he isn’t so spry as heonce was. His heart troubles him a good deal. And you know how desperatehard it’s got to be to get hired help. There’s never anybody to be hadbut those stupid, half-grown little French boys; and as soon as you doget one broke into your ways and taught something he’s up and off to thelobster canneries or the States. At first Matthew suggested getting aHome boy. But I said ‘no’ flat to that. ‘They may be all right--I’m notsaying they’re not--but no London street Arabs for me,’ I said. ‘Giveme a native born at least. There’ll be a risk, no matter who we get. ButI’ll feel easier in my mind and sleep sounder at nights if we get a bornCanadian.’ So in the end we decided to ask Mrs. Spencer to pick us outone when she went over to get her little girl. We heard last week shewas going, so we sent her word by Richard Spencer’s folks at Carmodyto bring us a smart, likely boy of about ten or eleven. We decided thatwould be the best age--old enough to be of some use in doing choresright off and young enough to be trained up proper. We mean to give hima good home and schooling. We had a telegram from Mrs. Alexander Spencertoday--the mail-man brought it from the station--saying they were comingon the five-thirty train tonight. So Matthew went to Bright River tomeet him. Mrs. Spencer will drop him off there. Of course she goes on toWhite Sands station herself.”

  Mrs. Rachel prided herself on always speaking her mind; she proceeded tospeak it now, having adjusted her mental attitude to this amazing pieceof news.

  “Well, Marilla, I’ll just tell you plain that I think you’re doing amighty foolish thing--a risky thing, that’s what. You don’t know whatyou’re getting. You’re bringing a strange child into your house and homeand 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 the paper how a man and his wife upwest of the Island took a boy out of an orphan asylum and he set fire tothe house at night--set it _on purpose_, Marilla--and nearly burnt them toa crisp in their beds. And I know another case where an adopted boy usedto suck the eggs--they couldn’t break him of it. If you had asked myadvice in the matter--which you didn’t do, Marilla--I’d have said formercy’s sake not to think of such a thing, that’s what.”

  This Job’s comforting seemed neither to offend nor to alarm Marilla. Sheknitted steadily on.

  “I don’t deny there’s something in what you say, Rachel. I’ve had somequalms myself. But Matthew was terrible set on it. I could see that, soI gave in. It’s so seldom Matthew sets his mind on anything that when hedoes I always feel it’s my duty to give in. And as for the risk, there’srisks in pretty near everything a body does in this world. There’s risksin people’s having children of their own if it comes to that--they don’talways 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’tbe much different from ourselves.”

  “Well, I hope it will turn out all right,” said Mrs. Rachel in a tonethat plainly indicated her painful doubts. “Only don’t say I didn’twarn you if he burns Green Gables down or puts strychnine in the well--Iheard of a case over in New Brunswick where an orphan asylum child didthat and the whole family died in fearful agonies. Only, it was a girlin that instance.”

  “Well, we’re not getting a girl,” said Marilla, as if poisoning wellswere a purely feminine accomplishment and not to be dreaded in the caseof a boy. “I’d never dream of taking a girl to bring up. I wonder atMrs. Alexander Spencer for doing it. But there, _she_ wouldn’t shrinkfrom adopting a whole orphan asylum if she took it into her head.”

  Mrs. Rachel would have liked to stay until Matthew came home with hisimported orphan. But reflecting that it would be a good two hours atleast 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 tookherself away, somewhat to Marilla’s relief, for the latter felther doubts and fears reviving under the influence of Mrs. Rachel’spessimism.

  “Well, of all things that ever were or will be!” ejaculated Mrs. Rachelwhen she was safely out in the lane. “It does really seem as if I mustbe dreaming. Well, I’m sorry for that poor young one and no mistake.Matthew and Marilla don’t know anything about children and they’llexpect him to be wiser and steadier that his own grandfather, if so be’she ever had a grandfather, which is doubtful. It seems uncanny to thinkof a child at Green Gables somehow; there’s never been one there, forMatthew and Marilla were grown up when the new house was built--if theyever _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 herheart; but if she could have seen the child who was waiting patientlyat the Bright River station at that very moment her pity would have beenstill deeper and more profound.