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Chapter VIII


CHAPTER VIII

Anne's Bringing-up Is Begun


For reasons best known to herself, Marilla did not tell
Anne that she was to stay at Green Gables until the next
afternoon.  During the forenoon she kept the child busy
with various tasks and watched over her with a keen eye
while she did them.  By noon she had concluded that Anne
was smart and obedient, willing to work and quick to learn;
her most serious shortcoming seemed to be a tendency to fall
into daydreams in the middle of a task and forget all about
it until such time as she was sharply recalled to earth by a
reprimand or a catastrophe.

When Anne had finished washing the dinner dishes she
suddenly confronted Marilla with the air and expression of
one desperately determined to learn the worst.  Her thin
little body trembled from head to foot; her face flushed and
her eyes dilated until they were almost black; she clasped
her hands tightly and said in an imploring voice:

"Oh, please, Miss Cuthbert, won't you tell me if you are going to
send me away or not?"  I've tried to be patient all the morning,
but I really feel that I cannot bear not knowing any longer.
It's a dreadful feeling.  Please tell me."

"You haven't scalded the dishcloth in clean hot water as I
told you to do," said Marilla immovably.  "Just go and do
it before you ask any more questions, Anne."

Anne went and attended to the dishcloth.  Then she returned
to Marilla and fastened imploring eyes of the latter's face.
"Well," said Marilla, unable to find any excuse for deferring
her explanation longer, "I suppose I might as well tell you.
Matthew and I have decided to keep you--that is, if you will
try to be a good little girl and show yourself grateful.
Why, child, whatever is the matter?"

"I'm crying," said Anne in a tone of bewilderment.  "I can't
think why.  I'm glad as glad can be.  Oh, GLAD doesn't seem
the right word at all.  I was glad about the White Way and
the cherry blossoms--but this!  Oh, it's something more than
glad.  I'm so happy.  I'll try to be so good.  It will be
uphill work, I expect, for Mrs. Thomas often told me I was
desperately wicked.  However, I'll do my very best.  But can
you tell me why I'm crying?"

"I suppose it's because you're all excited and worked up,"
said Marilla disapprovingly.  "Sit down on that chair and
try to calm yourself.  I'm afraid you both cry and laugh
far too easily.  Yes, you can stay here and we will try to
do right by you.  You must go to school; but it's only a
fortnight till vacation so it isn't worth while for you to
start before it opens again in September."

"What am I to call you?" asked Anne.  "Shall I always say
Miss Cuthbert?  Can I call you Aunt Marilla?"

"No; you'll call me just plain Marilla.  I'm not used to
being called Miss Cuthbert and it would make me nervous."

"It sounds awfully disrespectful to just say Marilla,"
protested Anne.

"I guess there'll be nothing disrespectful in it if you're
careful to speak respectfully.  Everybody, young and old,
in Avonlea calls me Marilla except the minister.  He says
Miss Cuthbert--when he thinks of it."

"I'd love to call you Aunt Marilla," said Anne wistfully.
"I've never had an aunt or any relation at all--not even a
grandmother.  It would make me feel as if I really belonged
to you.  Can't I call you Aunt Marilla?"

"No.  I'm not your aunt and I don't believe in calling
people names that don't belong to them."

"But we could imagine you were my aunt."

"I couldn't," said Marilla grimly.

"Do you never imagine things different from what they
really are?" asked Anne wide-eyed.

"No."

"Oh!"  Anne drew a long breath.  "Oh, Miss--Marilla,
how much you miss!"

"I don't believe in imagining things different from what
they really are," retorted Marilla.  "When the Lord puts us
in certain circumstances He doesn't mean for us to imagine
them away.  And that reminds me.  Go into the sitting
room, Anne--be sure your feet are clean and don't let any
flies in--and bring me out the illustrated card that's on
the mantelpiece.  The Lord's Prayer is on it and you'll
devote your spare time this afternoon to learning it off by
heart.  There's to be no more of such praying as I heard
last night."

"I suppose I was very awkward," said Anne apologetically,
"but then, you see, I'd never had any practice.  You
couldn't really expect a person to pray very well the first
time she tried, could you?  I thought out a splendid prayer
after I went to bed, just as I promised you I would.  It was
nearly as long as a minister's and so poetical.  But would
you believe it?  I couldn't remember one word when I woke
up this morning.  And I'm afraid I'll never be able to think
out another one as good.  Somehow, things never are so good
when they're thought out a second time.  Have you ever
noticed that?"

"Here is something for you to notice, Anne.  When I tell
you to do a thing I want you to obey me at once and not
stand stock-still and discourse about it.  Just you go and
do as I bid you."

Anne promptly departed for the sitting-room across the hall;
she failed to return; after waiting ten minutes Marilla laid
down her knitting and marched after her with a grim expression.
She found Anne standing motionless before a picture hanging on
the wall between the two windows, with her eyes astar with
dreams.  The white and green light strained through apple trees
and clustering vines outside fell over the rapt little figure
with a half-unearthly radiance.

"Anne, whatever are you thinking of?" demanded Marilla sharply.

Anne came back to earth with a start.

"That," she said, pointing to the picture--a rather vivid
chromo entitled, "Christ Blessing Little Children"--"and I
was just imagining I was one of them--that I was the little
girl in the blue dress, standing off by herself in the
corner as if she didn't belong to anybody, like me.  She
looks lonely and sad, don't you think?  I guess she hadn't
any father or mother of her own.  But she wanted to be
blessed, too, so she just crept shyly up on the outside of
the crowd, hoping nobody would notice her--except Him.  I'm
sure I know just how she felt.  Her heart must have beat and
her hands must have got cold, like mine did when I asked you
if I could stay.  She was afraid He mightn't notice her.
But it's likely He did, don't you think?  I've been trying
to imagine it all out--her edging a little nearer all the
time until she was quite close to Him; and then He would
look at her and put His hand on her hair and oh, such a
thrill of joy as would run over her!  But I wish the artist
hadn't painted Him so sorrowful looking.  All His pictures
are like that, if you've noticed.  But I don't believe He
could really have looked so sad or the children would have
been afraid of Him."

"Anne," said Marilla, wondering why she had not broken
into this speech long before, "you shouldn't talk that
way.  It's irreverent--positively irreverent."

Anne's eyes marveled.

"Why, I felt just as reverent as could be.  I'm sure I
didn't mean to be irreverent."

"Well I don't suppose you did--but it doesn't sound right
to talk so familiarly about such things.  And another
thing,  Anne, when I send you after something you're to
bring it at once and not fall into mooning and imagining
before pictures.  Remember that.  Take that card and come
right to the kitchen.  Now, sit down in the corner and
learn that prayer off by heart."

Anne set the card up against the jugful of apple blossoms
she had brought in to decorate the dinnertable--Marilla
had eyed that decoration askance, but had said nothing--
propped her chin on her hands, and fell to studying it
intently for several silent minutes.

"I like this," she announced at length.  "It's beautiful.
I've heard it before--I heard the superintendent of the
asylum Sunday school say it over once.  But I didn't like it
then.  He had such a cracked voice and he prayed it so
mournfully.  I really felt sure he thought praying was a
disagreeable duty.  This isn't poetry, but it makes me feel
just the same way poetry does.  `Our Father who art in heaven
hallowed be Thy name.'  That is just like a line of music.
Oh, I'm so glad you thought of making me learn this, Miss--
Marilla."

"Well, learn it and hold your tongue," said Marilla shortly.

Anne tipped the vase of apple blossoms near enough to bestow
a soft kiss on a pink-cupped but, and then studied
diligently for some moments longer.

"Marilla," she demanded presently, "do you think that I
shall ever have a bosom friend in Avonlea?"

"A--a what kind of friend?"

"A bosom friend--an intimate friend, you know--a really
kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul.  I've
dreamed of meeting her all my life.  I never really supposed
I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true
all at once that perhaps this one will, too.  Do you think
it's possible?"

"Diana Barry lives over at Orchard Slope and she's about
your age.  She's a very nice little girl, and perhaps she
will be a playmate for you when she comes home.  She's
visiting her aunt over at Carmody just now.  You'll have
to be careful how you behave yourself, though.  Mrs. Barry
is a very particular woman.  She won't let Diana play with
any little girl who isn't nice and good."

Anne looked at Marilla through the apple blossoms, her
eyes aglow with interest.

"What is Diana like?  Her hair isn't red, is it?  Oh, I hope
not.  It's bad enough to have red hair myself, but I
positively couldn't endure it in a bosom friend."

"Diana is a very pretty little girl.  She has black eyes
and hair and rosy cheeks.  And she is good and smart, which
is better than being pretty."

Marilla was as fond of morals as the Duchess in Wonderland,
and was firmly convinced that one should be tacked on to
every remark made to a child who was being brought up.

But Anne waved the moral inconsequently aside and seized
only on the delightful possibilities before it.

"Oh, I'm so glad she's pretty.  Next to being beautiful
oneself--and that's impossible in my case--it would be
best to have a beautiful bosom friend.  When I lived with
Mrs. Thomas she had a bookcase in her sitting room with
glass doors.  There weren't any books in it; Mrs. Thomas
kept her best china and her preserves there--when she
had any preserves to keep.  One of the doors was broken.
Mr. Thomas smashed it one night when he was slightly
intoxicated.  But the other was whole and I used to
pretend that my reflection in it was another little girl who
lived in it.  I called her Katie Maurice, and we were very
intimate.  I used to talk to her by the hour, especially on
Sunday, and tell her everything.  Katie was the comfort
and consolation of my life.  We used to pretend that the
bookcase was enchanted and that if I only knew the spell
I could open the door and step right into the room where
Katie Maurice lived, instead of into Mrs. Thomas' shelves
of preserves and china.  And then Katie Maurice would have
taken me by the hand and led me out into a wonderful place,
all flowers and sunshine and fairies, and we would have
lived there happy for ever after.  When I went to live with
Mrs. Hammond it just broke my heart to leave Katie Maurice.
She felt it dreadfully, too, I know she did, for she was
crying when she kissed me good-bye through the bookcase
door.  There was no bookcase at Mrs. Hammond's.  But just up
the river a little way from the house there was a long
green little valley, and the loveliest echo lived there.
It echoed back every word you said, even if you didn't talk
a bit loud.  So I imagined that it was a little girl called
Violetta and we were great friends and I loved her almost as
well as I loved Katie Maurice--not quite, but almost, you
know.  The night before I went to the asylum I said
good-bye to Violetta, and oh, her good-bye came back to me
in such sad, sad tones.  I had become so attached to her
that I hadn't the heart to imagine a bosom friend at the
asylum, even if there had been any scope for imagination there."

"I think it's just as well there wasn't," said Marilla drily.
"I don't approve of such goings-on.  You seem to half believe
your own imaginations.  It will be well for you to have a real
live friend to put such nonsense out of your head.  But don't
let Mrs. Barry hear you talking about your Katie Maurices and
your Violettas or she'll think you tell stories."

"Oh, I won't.  I couldn't talk of them to everybody--their
memories are too sacred for that.  But I thought I'd like to
have you know about them.  Oh, look, here's a big bee just
tumbled out of an apple blossom.  Just think what a lovely
place to live--in an apple blossom!  Fancy going to sleep
in it when the wind was rocking it.  If I wasn't a human
girl I think I'd like to be a bee and live among the flowers."

"Yesterday you wanted to be a sea gull," sniffed Marilla.
"I think you are very fickle minded.  I told you to learn
that prayer and not talk.  But it seems impossible for you
to stop talking if you've got anybody that will listen to
you.  So go up to your room and learn it."

"Oh, I know it pretty nearly all now--all but just the
last line."

"Well, never mind, do as I tell you.  Go to your room and
finish learning it well, and stay there until I call you
down to help me get tea."

"Can I take the apple blossoms with me for company?"
pleaded Anne.

"No; you don't want your room cluttered up with flowers.
You should have left them on the tree in the first place."

"I did feel a little that way, too," said Anne.  "I kind of
felt I shouldn't shorten their lovely lives by picking
them--I wouldn't want to be picked if I were an apple blossom.
But the temptation was IRRESISTIBLE.  What do you do when
you meet with an irresistible temptation?"

"Anne, did you hear me tell you to go to your room?"

Anne sighed, retreated to the east gable, and sat down in a
chair by the window.

"There--I know this prayer.  I learned that last sentence
coming upstairs.  Now I'm going to imagine things into this
room so that they'll always stay imagined.  The floor is
covered with a white velvet carpet with pink roses all over
it and there are pink silk curtains at the windows. The walls
are hung with gold and silver brocade tapestry.  The
furniture is mahogany.  I never saw any mahogany, but it
does sound SO luxurious.  This is a couch all heaped with
gorgeous silken cushions, pink and blue and crimson and
gold, and I am reclining gracefully on it.  I can see my
reflection in that splendid big mirror hanging on the wall.
I am tall and regal, clad in a gown of trailing white lace,
with a pearl cross on my breast and pearls in my hair.  My
hair is of midnight darkness and my skin is a clear ivory
pallor.  My name is the Lady Cordelia Fitzgerald.  No, it
isn't--I can't make THAT seem real."

She danced up to the little looking-glass and peered into
it.  Her pointed freckled face and solemn gray eyes peered
back at her.

"You're only Anne of Green Gables," she said earnestly,
"and I see you, just as you are looking now, whenever I
try to imagine I'm the Lady Cordelia.  But it's a million
times nicer to be Anne of Green Gables than Anne of
nowhere in particular, isn't it?"

She bent forward, kissed her reflection affectionately,
and betook herself to the open window


"Dear Snow Queen, good afternoon.  And good afternoon
dear birches down in the hollow.  And good afternoon,
dear gray house up on the hill.  I wonder if Diana is to
be my bosom friend.  I hope she will, and I shall love
her very much.  But I must never quite forget Katie Maurice
and Violetta.  They would feel so hurt if I did and I'd
hate to hurt anybody's feelings, even a little bookcase
girl's or a little echo girl's.  I must be careful to
remember them and send them a kiss every day."

Anne blew a couple of airy kisses from her fingertips
past the cherry blossoms and then, with her chin in her
hands, drifted luxuriously out on a sea of daydreams.

Lucy Maud Montgomery