Marilla came briskly forward as Matthew opened the door. But when her eyes fell on the odd little figure in the stiff, ugly dress, with the long braids of red hair and the eager, luminous eyes, she stopped short in amazement. “Matthew Cuthbert, who’s that?” she ejaculated. “Where is the boy?” “There wasn’t any boy,” said Matthew wretchedly. “There was only her.” He nodded at the child, remembering that he had never even asked her name. “No boy! But there must have been a boy,” insisted Marilla. “We sent word to Mrs. Spencer to bring a boy. “Well, she didn’t. She brought her. I asked the stationmaster. And I had to bring her home. She couldn’t be left there, no matter where the mistake had come in.” “Well, this is a pretty piece of business!” ejaculated Marilla. During this dialog the child had remained silent, her eyes roving from one to the other, all the animation fading out of her face. Suddenly she seemed to grasp the full meaning of what had been said. Dropping her precious carpetbag she sprang forward a step and clasp her hands. “You don’t want me!” she cried. “You don’t want me because I’m not a boy! I might have known it was all too beautiful to last. I might have known nobody really did want me. Oh, what shall I do? I’m going to burst into tears!” Burst into tears she did. Sitting down on a chair by the table, flinging her arms out upon it, and burying her face in them, she proceeded to cry stormily. Marilla and Matthew looked at each other deprecatingly across the stove. Neither of them knew what to say or do. Finally Marilla stepped lamely into the breach. “Well, well, there’s no need to cry so about it.” “Yes, there is need!” The child raised her head quickly, revealing a tear-stained face and trembling lips. “You would cry, too, if you were an orphan and had come to a place you thought was going to be home and found that they didn’t want you because you weren’t a boy. Oh, this is the most tragical thing that ever happened to me!” Something like a reluctant smile, rather rusty from long disuse, mellowed Marilla’s grim expression. “Well, don’t cry any more. We’re not going to turn you out-of-doors tonight. You’ll have to stay here until we investigate this affair. What’s your name?” The child hesitated for a moment. “Will you please call me Cordelia?” she said eagerly. “Call you Cordelia! Is that your name?” “No-o-o, it’s not exactly my name, but I would love to be called Cordelia. It’s such a perfectly elegant name.” “I don’t know what on earth you mean. If Cordelia isn’t your name, what is?” “Anne Shirley,” reluctantly faltered forth the owner of that name, “but oh, please do call me Cordelia. It can’t matter much to you what you call me if I’m only going to be here a little while, can it? And Anne is such an unromantic name.”
First Children's Book-of-the-Month Club Printing: May 2011
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