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Chapter IV


CHAPTER IV

Morning at Green Gables


It was broad daylight when Anne awoke and sat up in bed,
staring confusedly at the window through which a flood of
cheery sunshine was pouring and outside of which something
white and feathery waved across glimpses of blue sky.

For a moment she could not remember where she was.  First
came a delightful thrill, as something very pleasant; then a
horrible remembrance.  This was Green Gables and they didn't
want her because she wasn't a boy!

But it was morning and, yes, it was a cherry-tree in full
bloom outside of her window.  With a bound she was out of
bed and across the floor.  She pushed up the sash--it went
up stiffly and creakily, as if it hadn't been opened for a
long time, which was the case; and it stuck so tight that
nothing was needed to hold it up.

Anne dropped on her knees and gazed out into the June
morning, her eyes glistening with delight.  Oh, wasn't it
beautiful?  Wasn't it a lovely place?  Suppose she wasn't
really going to stay here!  She would imagine she was.
There was scope for imagination here.

A huge cherry-tree grew outside, so close that its boughs
tapped against the house, and it was so thick-set with
blossoms that hardly a leaf was to be seen.  On both sides
of the house was a big orchard, one of apple-trees and one
of cherry-trees, also showered over with blossoms; and their
grass was all sprinkled with dandelions.  In the garden below
were lilac-trees purple with flowers, and their dizzily
sweet fragrance drifted up to the window on the morning
wind.

Below the garden a green field lush with clover sloped down
to the hollow where the brook ran and where scores of white
birches grew, upspringing airily out of an undergrowth
suggestive of delightful possibilities in ferns and mosses
and woodsy things generally.  Beyond it was a hill, green
and feathery with spruce and fir; there was a gap in it
where the gray gable end of the little house she had seen
from the other side of the Lake of Shining Waters was visible.

Off to the left were the big barns and beyond them, away
down over green, low-sloping fields, was a sparkling blue
glimpse of sea.

Anne's beauty-loving eyes lingered on it all, taking everything
greedily in.  She had looked on so many unlovely places in her life,
poor child; but this was as lovely as anything she had ever dreamed.

She knelt there, lost to everything but the loveliness
around her, until she was startled by a hand on her
shoulder.  Marilla had come in unheard by the small dreamer.

"It's time you were dressed," she said curtly.

Marilla really did not know how to talk to the child, and
her uncomfortable ignorance made her crisp and curt when she
did not mean to be.

Anne stood up and drew a long breath.

"Oh, isn't it wonderful?" she said, waving her hand
comprehensively at the good world outside.

"It's a big tree," said Marilla, "and it blooms great, but
the fruit don't amount to much never--small and wormy."

"Oh, I don't mean just the tree; of course it's lovely--yes,
it's RADIANTLY lovely--it blooms as if it meant it--but I
meant everything, the garden and the orchard and the brook
and the woods, the whole big dear world.  Don't you feel as
if you just loved the world on a morning like this?  And I
can hear the brook laughing all the way up here.  Have you
ever noticed what cheerful things brooks are?  They're
always laughing.  Even in winter-time I've heard them under
the ice.  I'm so glad there's a brook near Green Gables.
Perhaps you think it doesn't make any difference to me when
you're not going to keep me, but it does.  I shall always
like to remember that there is a brook at Green Gables even
if I never see it again.  If there wasn't a brook I'd be
HAUNTED by the uncomfortable feeling that there ought to be
one.  I'm not in the depths of despair this morning.  I
never can be in the morning.  Isn't it a splendid thing that
there are mornings?  But I feel very sad.  I've just been
imagining that it was really me you wanted after all and
that I was to stay here for ever and ever.  It was a great
comfort while it lasted.  But the worst of imagining things
is that the time comes when you have to stop and that hurts."

"You'd better get dressed and come down-stairs and never
mind your imaginings," said Marilla as soon as she could get
a word in edgewise.  "Breakfast is waiting.  Wash your face
and comb your hair.  Leave the window up and turn your bedclothes
back over the foot of the bed.  Be as smart as you can."

Anne could evidently be smart 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
window-sill, please?"

"That's the apple-scented geranium."

"Oh, I don't mean that sort of a name.  I mean just a name
you gave it yourself.  Didn't you give it a name?  May I
give it one then?  May I call it--let me see--Bonny would
do--may I call it Bonny while I'm here?  Oh, do let me!"

"Goodness, I don't care.  But where on earth is the sense of
naming a geranium?"

"Oh, I like things to have handles even if they are only
geraniums.  It makes them seem more like people.  How do you
know but that it hurts a geranium's feelings just to be
called a geranium and nothing else?  You wouldn't like to be
called nothing but a woman all the time.  Yes, I shall call
it Bonny.  I named that cherry-tree outside my bedroom
window this morning.  I called it Snow Queen because it was
so white.  Of course, it won't always be in blossom, but one
can imagine that it is, can't one?"

"I never in all my life 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.

Lucy Maud Montgomery