Anne of Green Gables (Chapter 5, page 2 of 5)


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Chapter 5

"No, I don't want any of your imaginings. Just you stick
to bald facts. Begin at the beginning. Where were you
born and how old are you?"

"I was eleven last March," said Anne, resigning herself
to bald facts with a little sigh. "And I was born in
Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia. My father's name was Walter
Shirley, and he was a teacher in the Bolingbroke High
School. My mother's name was Bertha Shirley. Aren't
Walter and Bertha lovely names? I'm so glad my parents
had nice names. It would be a real disgrace to have a
father named--well, say Jedediah, wouldn't it?"

"I guess it doesn't matter what a person's name is as
long as he behaves himself," said Marilla, feeling herself
called upon to inculcate a good and useful moral.

"Well, I don't know." Anne looked thoughtful. "I read
in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell
as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't
believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle
or a skunk cabbage. I suppose my father could have been a
good man even if he had been called Jedediah; but I'm
sure it would have been a cross. Well, my mother was a
teacher in the High school, too, but when she married
father she gave up teaching, of course. A husband was
enough responsibility. Mrs. Thomas said that they were a
pair of babies and as poor as church mice. They went to
live in a weeny-teeny little yellow house in Bolingbroke.
I've never seen that house, but I've imagined it thousands
of times. I think it must have had honeysuckle over the
parlor window and lilacs in the front yard and lilies of the
valley just inside the gate. Yes, and muslin curtains in
all the windows. Muslin curtains give a house such an air.
I was born in that house. Mrs. Thomas said I was the
homeliest baby she ever saw, I was so scrawny and tiny
and nothing but eyes, but that mother thought I was
perfectly beautiful. I should think a mother would be a
better judge than a poor woman who came in to scrub,
wouldn't you? I'm glad she was satisfied with me anyhow,
I would feel so sad if I thought I was a disappointment to
her--because she didn't live very long after that, you see.
She died of fever when I was just three months old. I do
wish she'd lived long enough for me to remember calling
her mother. I think it would be so sweet to say `mother,'
don't you? And father died four days afterwards from
fever too. That left me an orphan and folks were at their
wits' end, so Mrs. Thomas said, what to do with me. You
see, nobody wanted me even then. It seems to be my fate.
Father and mother had both come from places far away
and it was well known they hadn't any relatives living.
Finally Mrs. Thomas said she'd take me, though she was
poor and had a drunken husband. She brought me up by
hand. Do you know if there is anything in being brought
up by hand that ought to make people who are brought up
that way better than other people? Because whenever I
was naughty Mrs. Thomas would ask me how I could be
such a bad girl when she had brought me up by hand--
reproachful-like.

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