Mr. and Ms. Cuthbert are grumpy middle-aged siblings who need help on their farm on Prince Edward Island. They decide to adopt a boy, but what they get instead is an outspoken girl named Anne.
Chapter 4 – Morning at Green Gables
It was broad daylight when Anne finally woke up, staring with confusion at the window. Cheery sunshine was pouring in. Outside, there was something white and feathery waving across the blue sky.
For a moment, she couldn’t remember where she was. First came a delightful thrill, as she thought she was in a pleasant place, but then, she had 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, there was a cherry tree in full bloom outside of her window. With a jump, she was out of bed and across the room. She pushed up the window—it went up stiffly and creakily as if it hadn’t been opened for a long time.
Anne dropped to 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?
Imagine if she could really stay here! She tried to imagine that she really would be able to stay.
The huge cherry tree outside grew so close to the house that it’s branches tapped the walls, and it had so many blossoms that you could hardly see any green leaves.
On both sides of the house, there was a big orchard. One side had apple tress and the other side had cherry trees, which were also showered with blossoms. And all the grass was sprinkled with dandelions. In the garden below, there were trees with purple flowers, and their sweet fragrance drifted up to the window where Anne kneeled.
Below the garden, there was a lush field with clover that sloped down to the hollow where the brook ran and where white birch trees grew. Beyond it was a hill, which was green and feathery with spruce and fir trees. There was a gap that showed the Lake of Shining Waters in the distance.
Off to the left were the big bards. Beyond them, way down past the green, low-sloping fields, was a sprarkling blue glimpse of sea.
Anne’s beauty-loving eyes lingered on it all, taking in the sights greedily. She had looked at so many unlovely places in her life, but this was as lovely as anything she had ever dreamed.
She knelt there, lost to everything but the beauty around her until she was startled by a hand on her shoulder. Marilla had come in, unnoticed by the little dreamer.
“It’s time to get dressed,” she said curtly.
Marilla really didn’t know how to talk to a child, and her uncomfortable ignorance made her curt, even though she didn’t intend to sound that way.
Anne stood up and took a deep breath.
“Oh, isn’t it wonderful?” she said, waving her hand at the world outside.
“It’s a big tree,” said Marilla, “and it blooms great, but the fruit doesn’t amount to much—small and wormy.”
“Oh, I don’t mean just the tree—of course, it’s lovely—but I meant everything, the garden and the orchard and the brook and the woods, the whole big world. Don’t you feel as if you just love the world on a morning like this? And even from up here, I can hear the brook laughing. Have you ever noticed how cheerful brooks are? They’re always laughing. Even in wintertime, 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’ve already decided not to keep me, but it does. I will always 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 feeling that there should be one. I’m not in the depths of despair this morning. I never can be depressed in the morning. Isn’t it splendid that mornings exist? But I feel a little sad. I’ve just been imagining that I was a child that you wanted, and that I would be able to stay here forever and ever. It was a great feeling while it lasted. But the worst part of imagining things is the time when you have to stop imagining. That hurts.”
“You’d better get dressed and come downstairs. Don’t mind your imaginings,” said Marilla as soon as she could get a word in. “Breakfast is waiting. Wash your face and comb your hair. Leave the window up and fold your sleepwear. Be as smart as you can.”
Anne could evidently be smart so she was downstairs in 10 minutes with her clothes on neatly, her hair brushed and braided, her face washed, and a comfortable consciousness pervaded her soul that she had fulfilled all Marilla’s requirements. As a matter of fact, however, she had forgotten to pick up her sleepwear.
“I’m pretty hungry this morning,” she announced as she sat down on the chair that Marilla placed for her. “The world doesn’t seem like such a howling wilderness as it did last night. I’m so glad it’s a sunny morning. But I like rainy mornings, 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 on a sunny day even if you have sorrows. And I feel like I have a lot of sorrows. It’s all good to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it’s not so nice when you really have to live through them, is it?”
“For goodness sake, hold your tongue,” said Marilla. “You talk way too much for a little girl.”
At that, 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 robotic, eating mechanically, with her big eyes fixed 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 cloud land, flying around in her imagination. Who would want such a child to keep in their home?
Yet Matthew wished to keep her, of all people! Marilla felt that his feelings were unchanged from last night and that he would continue to feel that way. That was Matthew’s personality. Once he sets his mind on something, he clings to the idea with silent persistency.
When the meal was finished, Anne came out of her trance and offered to wash the dishes.
“Can you wash dishes right?” asked Marilla with distrust in her eyes.
“Pretty well. I’m better at looking after children, though. I’ve had so much experience at that. It’s such a pity you don’t have any here for me to look after.”
“I don’t feel like I want any more children to look after. You’re enough of a burden. I don’t know what to do with you. Matthew is such a 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 I met him.”
“You’re both weird enough if that’s what you mean by kindred spirits,” said Marilla with a sniff. “Yes, you may wash the dishes. Use plenty of hot water, and be sure to dry them well. I’ve got enough to work on this morning because 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 upstairs and make your bed.”
Anne washed the dishes well enough (Marilla kept a sharp eye on her). Later on, she made her bed less successfully. But it was done somehow and smoothed down. And then Marilla, wanting to get rid of her, sent her outside to play until dinnertime.
Anne flew out the door, with a big smile and glowing eyes. On the porch, she stopped, turned back inside, and sat down at the table. Her glowing smile was gone as if someone had used a fire extinguisher on her.
“What’s the matter?” demanded Marilla.
“I don’t want to go outside,” said Anne. “If I can’t stay here, there is no use in falling in love with Green Gables. And if I go out there and get acquainted with all those trees and flowers and orchards and the brook, I will certainly fall in love with it all. 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 to play’—but it’s better not to go. There is no use in loving things if you have to be torn from them, is there? And it’s so hard to not love, 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. My fate is set now, so I don’t want to go outside. What is the name of that flower on the window sill, please?”
“That’s an apple-scented geranium.”
“Oh, I don’t mean it’s dictionary name. I mean the name you gave it yourself. Didn’t you name it? May I name it then? May I call it—let me see— Bonny—may I call it Bonny while I’m here? Oh, please let me!”
“Goodness, I don’t care. What on earth is the sense of naming a flower?”
“Oh, I like things to have names, even if they are only flowers. It makes them seem more like people. Don’t you think a geranium would be sad if it was just called ‘geranium’ and nothing else? You wouldn’t like to be called ‘woman’ all the time. Yes, I will 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 I can imagine that it is, can’t I?”
“Never in all my life have I heard anything equal to her,” muttered Marilla as she went down the stairs into the basement to get potatoes. “She is kind of interesting, like Matthew says. I can already feel that I’m wondering what on earth she will say next. She’ll be casting a spell on me, too. She’s already cast it over Matthew. When he went out, that look he gave me said it all. I wish he was normal and could just talk about things. Then, I’d be able to answer back and argue until he gave up. But what am I supposed to do with a man who just looks?”
When Marilla returned from the basement, Anne had fallen into a daydream again, with her chin in her hands and her eyes on the sky.
“I suppose I can have the horse and carriage 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. 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 felt like she was wasting her breath. There is nothing more aggravating than a person who won’t talk back.
Matthew hitched the horse to the carriage quickly, and Marilla and Anne set off. Matthew opened the yard gate for them and they drove through.
As Marilla passed, Matthew said for her to hear, “The little boy, Jerry, from the Creek was here this morning. I told him I guess I’ll hire him for the summer.”
Marilla didn’t reply, but she hit the horse with the whip more aggressively than she intended, and the horse started running at an alarming speed. Marilla looked back to see Matthew leaning over the gate, looking wistfully after them.
About this story:
Anne of Green Gables was written in 1908 by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Here, it is rewritten by Judy Shinohara for advanced English learners to enjoy.