It’s a million times nicer to be Anne of Green Gables than Anne of nowhere in particular, isn’t it?
Although Marilla had made up her mind the day before, she holds Anne in suspense all morning, aiming to gage her attitude and capabilities,
“Well,” said Marilla, unable to find any excuse for deferring her explanation longer. “I suppose I might as well tell you. Matthew and I have decided to keep you – that is, if you will try to be a good girl and show yourself grateful. Why, child, whatever is the matter?”
“I’m crying,” said Anne in a tone of bewilderment. “I can’t think why. I’m as glad as glad can be. Oh, glad doesn’t seem the right word at all. I was glad about the White Way and the cherry blossoms – but this! Oh, it’s something more than glad. I’m so happy. I’ll try to be so good. It will be up-hill work, I expect, for Mrs. Thomas often told me that I was desperately wicked. However, I’ll do my very best.”
Anne finally has a home, and that’s a dream that has only been kept alive by her vibrant imagination for a very long time.
Marilla asks Anne to call her just “Marilla” instead of “Miss Cuthbert”, and Anne asks if she can call her “Aunt Marilla”, but she rejects that on the principle of not referring to her as a relative when she isn’t.
“Don’t you never imagine things different from what they really are?” asked Anne wide-eyed.
“Oh!” Anne drew a long breath. “Oh, Miss – Marilla, how much you miss!”
“I don’t believe in imagining things different from what they really are,” retorted Marilla, “When the Lord puts us in certain circumstances He doesn’t mean for us to imagine them away.”
But all her life, Anne has clung her to her imagination as her only hope of escape, and although it didn’t technically help her out of her situation, it was her sharp and curious mind that first caught Matthew’s attention. Sometimes, the escape of imagination is the only escape we get, but that can also lead us to see paths to a real escape when the opportunity arises.
“Anne, whatever are you thinking of?” demanded Marilla sharply.
Anne came back to earth with a start.
“That,” she said, pointing to the picture – a rather vivid chromo entitled “Christ Blessing Little Children” – “and I was just imagining I was one of them – that I was the little girl in the blue dress, standing off by herself in the corner as if she didn’t belong to anybody, like me. She looks lonely and sad, don’t you think? I guess she hadn’t any father or mother of her own. But she wanted to be blessed, too, so she just crept shyly up on the outside of the crowd, hoping nobody would notice her – except Him. I’m sure I know just how she felt. Her heart must have beat and her hands must have got cold, like mine did when I asked you if I could stay. She was afraid He mightn’t notice her. But it’s likely He did, don’t you think?”
That’s how Anne draws closer to God – not through study or even prayer, but through imagination.
“Anne,” said Marilla, wondering why she had not broken into this speech long before, “you shouldn’t talk that way. It’s irreverent – positively irreverent.”
Anne’s eyes marvelled.
“Why, I felt just as reverent as could be. I’m sure I didn’t mean to be irreverent.”
Then Marilla sets her the task of memorizing the Lord’s Prayer (so that she can say her prayers “properly”), but Anne’s mind wanders off and she starts wondering if she’ll meet a real live “bosom friend” in Green Gables, and lo and behold, Marilla says there’s a girl next door close to Anne’s age, and that sets her mind wandering further. She reminisces about a “glass girl” that lived in a cupboard (her reflection) whom she dubbed Katie Maurice, and an “echo girl” named Violetta at her second dwelling, both of whom she treated as “bosom friends” for want of any real sympathetic ears.
Marilla finally sends her to her room to focus on studying the prayer (or rather, to stop her chattering), but she promptly finishes memorizing that and instead tries to imagine her rather bare room into something more luxurious, but as always, she fails to imagine her hair as anything but red, and that breaks the illusion.
“You’re only Anne of Green Gables,” she said earnestly, “and I see you, just as you are looking now, whenever I try to imagine I’m Lady Cordelia. But it’s a million times nicer to be Anne of Green Gables than Anne of nowhere in particular, isn’t it?”
Anne of Green Gables has ample scope for imagination, but for the first time, she’s also capable of actually doing and making things for herself. She has a home now.
Until next time…