Anne of Green Gables
to any place where he might have to talk. Matthew, dressed up with a white collar
and driving in a buggy, was something that didn't happen often. Mrs. Rachel, ponder
as she might, could make nothing of it and her afternoon's enjoyment was spoiled.
"I'll just step over to Green Gables after tea and find out from Marilla where he's
gone and why," the worthy woman finally concluded. "He doesn't generally go to
town this time of year and he NEVER visits; if he'd run out of turnip seed he
wouldn't dress up and take the buggy to go for more; he wasn't driving fast enough
to be going for a doctor. Yet something must have happened since last night to start
him off. I'm clean puzzled, that's what, and I won't know a minute's peace of mind or
conscience until I know what has taken Matthew Cuthbert out of Avonlea today."
Accordingly after tea Mrs. Rachel set out; she had not far to go; the big, rambling,
orchard-embowered house where the Cuthberts lived was a scant quarter of a mile
up the road from Lynde's Hollow. To be sure, the long lane made it a good deal
further. Matthew Cuthbert's father, as shy and silent as his son after him, had got as
far away as he possibly could from his fellow men without actually retreating into
the woods when he founded his homestead. Green Gables was built at the furthest
edge of his cleared land and there it was to this day, barely visible from the main
road along which all the other Avonlea houses were so sociably situated. Mrs. Rachel
Lynde did not call living in such a place LIVING at all.
"It's just STAYING, that's what," she said as she stepped along the deep-rutted,
grassy lane bordered with wild rose bushes. "It's no wonder Matthew and Marilla
are both a little odd, living away back here by themselves. Trees aren't much
company, though dear knows if they were there'd be enough of them. I'd ruther look
at people. To be sure, they seem contented enough; but then, I suppose, they're used
to it. A body can get used to anything, even to being hanged, as the Irishman said."
With this Mrs. Rachel stepped out of the lane into the backyard of Green Gables.
Very green and neat and precise was that yard, set about on one side with great
patriarchal willows and the other with prim Lombardies. Not a stray stick nor stone
was to be seen, for Mrs. Rachel would have seen it if there had been. Privately she
was of the opinion that Marilla Cuthbert swept that yard over as often as she swept
her house. One could have eaten a meal off the ground without overbrimming the
proverbial peck of dirt.
Mrs. Rachel rapped smartly at the kitchen door and stepped in when bidden to do
so. The kitchen at Green Gables was a cheerful apartment—or would have been
cheerful if it had not been so painfully clean as to give it something of the
appearance of an unused parlor. Its windows looked east and west; through the
west one, looking out on the back yard, came a flood of mellow June sunlight; but the
east one, whence you got a glimpse of the bloom white cherry-trees in the left
orchard and nodding, slender birches down in the hollow by the brook, was greened
over by a tangle of vines. Here sat Marilla Cuthbert, when she sat at all, always
slightly distrustful of sunshine, which seemed to her too dancing and irresponsible a
thing for a world which was meant to be taken seriously; and here she sat now,
knitting, and the table behind her was laid for supper.
Mrs. Rachel, before she had fairly closed the door, had taken a mental note of
everything that was on that table. There were three plates laid, so that Marilla must
be expecting some one home with Matthew to tea; but the dishes were everyday