Anne of the Island
XXII. Spring and Anne Return to Green Gables
The firelight shadows were dancing over the kitchen walls at Green Gables, for the
spring evening was chilly; through the open east window drifted in the subtly sweet
voices of the night. Marilla was sitting by the fire--at least, in body. In spirit she was
roaming olden ways, with feet grown young. Of late Marilla had thus spent many an
hour, when she thought she should have been knitting for the twins.
"I suppose I'm growing old," she said.
Yet Marilla had changed but little in the past nine years, save to grow something
thinner, and even more angular; there was a little more gray in the hair that was still
twisted up in the same hard knot, with two hairpins--WERE they the same hairpins?--
still stuck through it. But her expression was very different; the something about the
mouth which had hinted at a sense of humor had developed wonderfully; her eyes were
gentler and milder, her smile more frequent and tender.
Marilla was thinking of her whole past life, her cramped but not unhappy childhood, the
jealously hidden dreams and the blighted hopes of her girlhood, the long, gray, narrow,
monotonous years of dull middle life that followed. And the coming of Anne--the vivid,
imaginative, impetuous child with her heart of love, and her world of fancy, bringing with
her color and warmth and radiance, until the wilderness of existence had blossomed like
the rose. Marilla felt that out of her sixty years she had lived only the nine that had
followed the advent of Anne. And Anne would be home tomorrow night.
The kitchen door opened. Marilla looked up expecting to see Mrs. Lynde. Anne stood
before her, tall and starry-eyed, with her hands full of Mayflowers and violets.
"Anne Shirley!" exclaimed Marilla. For once in her life she was surprised out of her
reserve; she caught her girl in her arms and crushed her and her flowers against her
heart, kissing the bright hair and sweet face warmly. "I never looked for you till tomorrow
night. How did you get from Carmody?"
"Walked, dearest of Marillas. Haven't I done it a score of times in the Queen's days?
The mailman is to bring my trunk tomorrow; I just got homesick all at once, and came a
day earlier. And oh! I've had such a lovely walk in the May twilight; I stopped by the
barrens and picked these Mayflowers; I came through Violet-Vale; it's just a big bowlful
of violets now--the dear, sky-tinted things. Smell them, Marilla--drink them in."
Marilla sniffed obligingly, but she was more interested in Anne than in drinking violets.
"Sit down, child. You must be real tired. I'm going to get you some supper."