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Chapter X


CHAPTER X

Anne's Apology


Marilla said nothing to Matthew about the affair that
evening; but when Anne proved still refractory the next
morning an explanation had to be made to account for her
absence from the breakfast table.  Marilla told Matthew
the whole story, taking pains to impress him with a due
sense of the enormity of Anne's behavior.

"It's a good thing Rachel Lynde got a calling down; she's a
meddlesome old gossip," was Matthew's consolatory rejoinder.

"Matthew Cuthbert, I'm astonished at you.  You know that
Anne's behavior was dreadful, and yet you take her part!
I suppose you'll be saying next thing that she oughtn't
to be punished at all!"

"Well now--no--not exactly," said Matthew uneasily.  I
reckon she ought to be punished a little.  But don't be
too hard on her, Marilla.  Recollect she hasn't ever had
anyone to teach her right.  You're--you're going to give
her something to eat, aren't you?"

"When did you ever hear of me starving people into good
behavior?" demanded Marilla indignantly.  "She'll have
her meals regular, and I'll carry them up to her myself.
But she'll stay up there until she's willing to apologize
to Mrs. Lynde, and that's final, Matthew."

Breakfast, dinner, and supper were very silent meals--for
Anne still remained obdurate.  After each meal Marilla
carried a well-filled tray to the east gable and brought it
down later on not noticeably depleted.  Matthew eyed its last
descent with a troubled eye.  Had Anne eaten anything at all?

When Marilla went out that evening to bring the cows
from the back pasture, Matthew, who had been hanging
about the barns and watching, slipped into the house with
the air of a burglar and crept upstairs.  As a general thing
Matthew gravitated between the kitchen and the little
bedroom off the hall where he slept; once in a while he
ventured uncomfortably into the parlor or sitting room when
the minister came to tea.  But he had never been upstairs
in his own house since the spring he helped Marilla paper
the spare bedroom, and that was four years ago.

He tiptoed along the hall and stood for several minutes
outside the door of the east gable before he summoned
courage to tap on it with his fingers and then open the
door to peep in.

Anne was sitting on the yellow chair by the window
gazing mournfully out into the garden.  Very small and
unhappy she looked, and Matthew's heart smote him.
He softly closed the door and tiptoed over to her.

"Anne," he whispered, as if afraid of being overheard,
"how are you making it, Anne?"

Anne smiled wanly.

"Pretty well.  I imagine a good deal, and that helps to
pass the time.  Of course, it's rather lonesome.  But then,
I may as well get used to that."

Anne smiled again, bravely facing the long years of
solitary imprisonment before her.

Matthew recollected that he must say what he had come
to say without loss of time, lest Marilla return prematurely.
"Well now, Anne, don't you think you'd better do it and
have it over with?" he whispered.  "It'll have to be done
sooner or later, you know, for Marilla's a dreadful deter-
mined woman--dreadful determined, Anne.  Do it right off,
I say, and have it over."

"Do you mean apologize to Mrs. Lynde?"

"Yes--apologize--that's the very word," said Matthew eagerly.
"Just smooth it over so to speak.  That's what I was trying
to get at."

"I suppose I could do it to oblige you," said Anne
thoughtfully.  "It would be true enough to say I am sorry,
because I AM sorry now.  I wasn't a bit sorry last night.
I was mad clear through, and I stayed mad all night.  I know
I did because I woke up three times and I was just furious
every time.  But this morning it was over.  I wasn't in a
temper anymore--and it left a dreadful sort of goneness,
too.  I felt so ashamed of myself.  But I just couldn't think
of going and telling Mrs. Lynde so.  It would be so humili-
ating.  I made up my mind I'd stay shut up here forever
rather than do that.  But still--I'd do anything for you--if
you really want me to--"

"Well now, of course I do.  It's terrible lonesome
downstairs without you.  Just go and smooth things over--
that's a good girl."

"Very well," said Anne resignedly.  "I'll tell Marilla as
soon as she comes in I've repented."

"That's right--that's right, Anne.  But don't tell Marilla I
said anything about it.  She might think I was putting my oar
in and I promised not to do that."

"Wild horses won't drag the secret from me," promised Anne
solemnly.  "How would wild horses drag a secret from a
person anyhow?"

But Matthew was gone, scared at his own success.  He fled
hastily to the remotest corner of the horse pasture lest
Marilla should suspect what he had been up to.  Marilla herself,
upon her return to the house, was agreeably surprised to hear a
plaintive voice calling, "Marilla" over the banisters.

"Well?" she said, going into the hall.

"I'm sorry I lost my temper and said rude things, and
I'm willing to go and tell Mrs. Lynde so."

"Very well."  Marilla's crispness gave no sign of her
relief.  She had been wondering what under the canopy she
should do if Anne did not give in.  "I'll take you down
after milking."

Accordingly, after milking, behold Marilla and Anne
walking down the lane, the former erect and triumphant,
the latter drooping and dejected.  But halfway down Anne's
dejection vanished as if by enchantment.  She lifted her
head and stepped lightly along, her eyes fixed on the
sunset sky and an air of subdued exhilaration about her.
Marilla beheld the change disapprovingly.  This was no
meek penitent such as it behooved her to take into the
presence of the offended Mrs. Lynde.

"What are you thinking of, Anne?" she asked sharply.

"I'm imagining out what I must say to Mrs. Lynde,"
answered Anne dreamily.

This was satisfactory--or should have been so.  But Marilla
could not rid herself of the notion that something in her
scheme of punishment was going askew.  Anne had no business
to look so rapt and radiant.

Rapt and radiant Anne continued until they were in the
very presence of Mrs. Lynde, who was sitting knitting by
her kitchen window.  Then the radiance vanished.  Mournful
penitence appeared on every feature.  Before a word was
spoken Anne suddenly went down on her knees before the
astonished Mrs. Rachel and held out her hands beseechingly.

"Oh, Mrs. Lynde, I am so extremely sorry," she said
with a quiver in her voice.  "I could never express all
my sorrow, no, not if I used up a whole dictionary.  You
must just imagine it.  I behaved terribly to you--and
I've disgraced the dear friends, Matthew and Marilla, who
have let me stay at Green Gables although I'm not a boy.
I'm a dreadfully wicked and ungrateful girl, and I deserve
to be punished and cast out by respectable people forever.
It was very wicked of me to fly into a temper because you
told me the truth.  It WAS the truth; every word you said
was true.  My hair is red and I'm freckled and skinny and
ugly.  What I said to you was true, too, but I shouldn't
have said it.  Oh, Mrs. Lynde, please, please, forgive me.
If you refuse it will be a lifelong sorrow on a poor little
orphan girl would you, even if she had a dreadful temper?
Oh, I am sure you wouldn't.  Please say you forgive me,
Mrs. Lynde."

Anne clasped her hands together, bowed her head, and
waited for the word of judgment.

There was no mistaking her sincerity--it breathed in
every tone of her voice.  Both Marilla and Mrs. Lynde
recognized its unmistakable ring.  But the former under-
stood in dismay that Anne was actually enjoying her valley
of humiliation--was reveling in the thoroughness of her
abasement.  Where was the wholesome punishment upon
which she, Marilla, had plumed herself?  Anne had turned
it into a species of positive pleasure.

Good Mrs. Lynde, not being overburdened with perception,
did not see this.  She only perceived that Anne had
made a very thorough apology and all resentment vanished
from her kindly, if somewhat officious, heart.

"There, there, get up, child," she said heartily.  "Of course
I forgive you.  I guess I was a little too hard on you,
anyway.  But I'm such an outspoken person.  You just mustn't
mind me, that's what.  It can't be denied your hair is
terrible red; but I knew a girl once--went to school with
her, in fact--whose hair was every mite as red as yours
when she was young, but when she grew up it darkened
to a real handsome auburn.  I wouldn't be a mite surprised
if yours did, too--not a mite."

"Oh, Mrs. Lynde!"  Anne drew a long breath as she rose
to her feet.  "You have given me a hope.  I shall always feel
that you are a benefactor.  Oh, I could endure anything if I
only thought my hair would be a handsome auburn when I
grew up.  It would be so much easier to be good if one's
hair was a handsome auburn, don't you think?  And now
may I go out into your garden and sit on that bench under
the apple-trees while you and Marilla are talking?  There is
so much more scope for imagination out there."

"Laws, yes, run along, child.  And you can pick a bouquet
of them white June lilies over in the corner if you like."

As the door closed behind Anne Mrs. Lynde got briskly
up to light a lamp.

"She's a real odd little thing.  Take this chair, Marilla;
it's easier than the one you've got; I just keep that for the
hired boy to sit on.  Yes, she certainly is an odd child,
but there is something kind of taking about her after all.
I don't feel so surprised at you and Matthew keeping her as
I did--nor so sorry for you, either.  She may turn out all
right.  Of course, she has a queer way of expressing herself--
a little too--well, too kind of forcible, you know; but
she'll likely get over that now that she's come to live among
civilized folks.  And then, her temper's pretty quick, I
guess; but there's one comfort, a child that has a quick
temper, just blaze up and cool down, ain't never likely to
be sly or deceitful.  Preserve me from a sly child, that's
what.  On the whole, Marilla, I kind of like her."

When Marilla went home Anne came out of the fragrant twilight
of the orchard with a sheaf of white narcissi in her hands.

"I apologized pretty well, didn't I?" she said proudly as
they went down the lane.  "I thought since I had to do it
I might as well do it thoroughly."

"You did it thoroughly, all right enough," was Marilla's
comment.  Marilla was dismayed at finding herself inclined
to laugh over the recollection.  She had also an uneasy
feeling that she ought to scold Anne for apologizing so well;
but then, that was ridiculous!  She compromised with her
conscience by saying severely:

"I hope you won't have occasion to make many more such
apologies.  I hope you'll try to control your temper now, Anne."

"That wouldn't be so hard if people wouldn't twit me about
my looks," said Anne with a sigh.  "I don't get cross about
other things; but I'm SO tired of being twitted about my hair
and it just makes me boil right over.  Do you suppose
my hair will really be a handsome auburn when I grow up?"

"You shouldn't think so much about your looks, Anne.  I'm
afraid you are a very vain little girl."

"How can I be vain when I know I'm homely?" protested
Anne.  "I love pretty things; and I hate to look in
the glass and see something that isn't pretty.  It makes me
feel so sorrowful--just as I feel when I look at any ugly
thing.  I pity it because it isn't beautiful."

"Handsome is as handsome does," quoted Marilla.
"I've had that said to me before, but I have my doubts
about it," remarked skeptical Anne, sniffing at her narcissi.
"Oh, aren't these flowers sweet!  It was lovely of Mrs.
Lynde to give them to me.  I have no hard feelings against
Mrs. Lynde now.  It gives you a lovely, comfortable feeling
to apologize and be forgiven, doesn't it?  Aren't the stars
bright tonight?  If you could live in a star, which one would
you pick?  I'd like that lovely clear big one away over there
above that dark hill."

"Anne, do hold your tongue." said Marilla, thoroughly
worn out trying to follow the gyrations of Anne's thoughts.

Anne said no more until they turned into their own lane.
A little gypsy wind came down it to meet them, laden
with the spicy perfume of young dew-wet ferns.  Far up
in the shadows a cheerful light gleamed out through the
trees from the kitchen at Green Gables.  Anne suddenly
came close to Marilla and slipped her hand into the older
woman's hard palm.

"It's lovely to be going home and know it's home," she said.
"I love Green Gables already, and I never loved any place before.
No place ever seemed like home.  Oh, Marilla, I'm so happy.
I could pray right now and not find it a bit hard."

Something warm and pleasant welled up in Marilla's heart
at touch of that thin little hand in her own--a throb
of the maternity she had missed, perhaps.  Its very
unaccustomedness and sweetness disturbed her.  She
hastened to restore her sensations to their normal
calm by inculcating a moral.

"If you'll be a good girl you'll always be happy, Anne.
And you should never find it hard to say your prayers."

"Saying one's prayers isn't exactly the same thing as praying,"
said Anne meditatively.  "But I'm going to imagine that I'm
the wind that is blowing up there in those tree tops.  When I
get tired of the trees I'll imagine I'm gently waving down here
in the ferns--and then I'll fly over to Mrs. Lynde's garden and
set the flowers dancing--and then I'll go with one great swoop
over the clover field--and then I'll blow over the Lake of
Shining Waters and ripple it all up into little sparkling waves.
Oh, there's so much scope for imagination in a wind!  So I'll not
talk any more just now, Marilla."

"Thanks be to goodness for that," breathed Marilla in
devout relief.

Lucy Maud Montgomery