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IX. Mrs. Rachel Lynde Is Horrified
Anne had been a fortnight at Green Gables before Mrs. Lynde arrived to inspect her.
Mrs. Rachel, to do her justice, was not to blame for this. A severe and unseasonable
attack of grippe had confined that good lady to her house ever since the occasion of her
last visit to Green Gables. Mrs. Rachel was not often sick and had a well-defined
contempt for people who were; but grippe, she asserted, was like no other illness on
earth and could only be interpreted as one of the special visitations of Providence. As
soon as her doctor allowed her to put her foot out-of-doors she hurried up to Green
Gables, bursting with curiosity to see Matthew and Marilla's orphan, concerning whom
all sorts of stories and suppositions had gone abroad in Avonlea.
Anne had made good use of every waking moment of that fortnight. Already she was
acquainted with every tree and shrub about the place. She had discovered that a lane
opened out below the apple orchard and ran up through a belt of woodland; and she
had explored it to its furthest end in all its delicious vagaries of brook and bridge, fir
coppice and wild cherry arch, corners thick with fern, and branching byways of maple
and mountain ash.
She had made friends with the spring down in the hollow-- that wonderful deep, clear
icy-cold spring; it was set about with smooth red sandstones and rimmed in by great
palm-like clumps of water fern; and beyond it was a log bridge over the brook.
That bridge led Anne's dancing feet up over a wooded hill beyond, where perpetual
twilight reigned under the straight, thick-growing firs and spruces; the only flowers there
were myriads of delicate "June bells," those shyest and sweetest of woodland blooms,
and a few pale, aerial starflowers, like the spirits of last year's blossoms. Gossamers
glimmered like threads of silver among the trees and the fir boughs and tassels seemed
to utter friendly speech.
All these raptured voyages of exploration were made in the odd half hours which she
was allowed for play, and Anne talked Matthew and Marilla half-deaf over her
discoveries. Not that Matthew complained, to be sure; he listened to it all with a
wordless smile of enjoyment on his face; Marilla permitted the "chatter" until she found
herself becoming too interested in it, whereupon she always promptly quenched Anne
by a curt command to hold her tongue.
Anne was out in the orchard when Mrs. Rachel came, wandering at her own sweet will
through the lush, tremu- lous grasses splashed with ruddy evening sunshine; so that
good lady had an excellent chance to talk her illness fully over, describing every ache
and pulse beat with such evident enjoyment that Marilla thought even grippe must bring
its compensations. When details were exhausted Mrs. Rachel introduced the real
reason of her call.