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    Chapter IV

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    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.
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