Anne of Green Gables HTML version
II. Matthew Cuthbert is surprised
Matthew Cuthbert and the sorrel mare jogged comfortably over the eight miles to Bright
River. It was a pretty road, running along between snug farmsteads, with now and again
a bit of balsamy fir wood to drive through or a hollow where wild plums hung out their
filmy bloom. The air was sweet with the breath of many apple orchards and the
meadows sloped away in the distance to horizon mists of pearl and purple; while
"The little birds sang as if it were
The one day of summer in all the year."
Matthew enjoyed the drive after his own fashion, except during the moments when he
met women and had to nod to them-- for in Prince Edward island you are supposed to
nod to all and sundry you meet on the road whether you know them or not.
Matthew dreaded all women except Marilla and Mrs. Rachel; he had an uncomfortable
feeling that the mysterious creatures were secretly laughing at him. He may have been
quite right in thinking so, for he was an odd-looking personage, with an ungainly figure
and long iron-gray hair that touched his stooping shoulders, and a full, soft brown beard
which he had worn ever since he was twenty. In fact, he had looked at twenty very
much as he looked at sixty, lacking a little of the grayness.
When he reached Bright River there was no sign of any train; he thought he was too
early, so he tied his horse in the yard of the small Bright River hotel and went over to
the station house. The long platform was almost deserted; the only living creature in
sight being a girl who was sitting on a pile of shingles at the extreme end. Matthew,
barely noting that it WAS a girl, sidled past her as quickly as possible without looking at
her. Had he looked he could hardly have failed to notice the tense rigidity and
expectation of her attitude and expression. She was sitting there waiting for something
or somebody and, since sitting and waiting was the only thing to do just then, she sat
and waited with all her might and main.
Matthew encountered the stationmaster locking up the ticket office preparatory to going
home for supper, and asked him if the five-thirty train would soon be along.
"The five-thirty train has been in and gone half an hour ago," answered that brisk
official. "But there was a passenger dropped off for you--a little girl. She's sitting out
there on the shingles. I asked her to go into the ladies' waiting room, but she informed
me gravely that she preferred to stay outside. `There was more scope for imagination,'
she said. She's a case, I should say."
"I'm not expecting a girl," said Matthew blankly. "It's a boy I've come for. He should be
here. Mrs. Alexander Spencer was to bring him over from Nova Scotia for me."