Matthew Cuthbert Is Surprised
1Matthew Cuthbert and the sorrel mare jogged comfortably over the eight miles to Bright River. 2It 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. 3The 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.
4Matthew 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.
5Matthew dreaded all women except Marilla and Mrs. Rachel; he had an uncomfortable feeling that the mysterious creatures were secretly laughing at him. 6He 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. 7In fact, he had looked at twenty very much as he looked at sixty, lacking a little of the grayness.
8When 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. 9The 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. 9-1Matthew, barely noting that it was a girl, sidled past her as quickly as possible without looking at her. 10Had he looked he could hardly have failed to notice the tense rigidity and expectation of her attitude and expression. 11She 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.
12Matthew 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.
13“The five-thirty train has been in and gone half an hour ago,” answered that brisk official. 14“But there was a passenger dropped off for you—a little girl. 15She’s sitting out there on the shingles. 16I asked her to go into the ladies’ waiting room, but she informed me gravely that she preferred to stay outside. 17‘There was more scope for imagination,’ she said. 18She’s a case, I should say.”
19“I’m not expecting a girl,” said Matthew blankly. 20“It’s a boy I’ve come for. 21He should be here. 22Mrs. Alexander Spencer was to bring him over from Nova Scotia for me.”
23The stationmaster whistled. 24“Guess there’s some mistake,” he said. 25“Mrs. Spencer came off the train with that girl and gave her into my charge. 26Said you and your sister were adopting her from an orphan asylum and that you would be along for her presently. 27That’s all I know about it—and I haven’t got any more orphans concealed hereabouts.”
28“I don’t understand,” said Matthew helplessly, wishing that Marilla was at hand to cope with the situation.
29“Well, you’d better question the girl,” said the stationmaster carelessly. 30“I dare say she’ll be able to explain—she’s got a tongue of her own, that’s certain. 31Maybe they were out of boys of the brand you wanted.”
32He walked jauntily away, being hungry, and the unfortunate Matthew was left to do that which was harder for him than bearding a lion in its den—walk up to a girl—a strange girl—an orphan girl—and demand of her why she wasn’t a boy. 33Matthew groaned in spirit as he turned about and shuffled gently down the platform towards her.
34She had been watching him ever since he had passed her and she had her eyes on him now. 35Matthew was not looking at her and would not have seen what she was really like if he had been, but an ordinary observer would have seen this:
36A child of about eleven, garbed in a very short, very tight, very ugly dress of yellowish gray wincey. 37She wore a faded brown sailor hat, and beneath the hat, extending down her back, were two braids of very thick, decidedly red hair. 38Her face was small, white, and thin, also much freckled; her mouth was large and so were her eyes, that looked green in some lights and moods and gray in others.
39So far, the ordinary observer; an extraordinary observer might have seen that the chin was very pointed and pronounced; that the big eyes were full of spirit and vivacity; that the mouth was sweet-lipped and expressive; that the forehead was broad and full; in short, our discerning extraordinary observer might have concluded that no commonplace soul inhabited the body of this stray woman-child of whom shy Matthew Cuthbert was so ludicrously afraid.
40Matthew, however, was spared the ordeal of speaking first, for as soon as she concluded that he was coming to her she stood up, grasping with one thin brown hand the handle of a shabby, old-fashioned carpetbag; the other she held out to him.
41“I suppose you are Mr. Matthew Cuthbert of Green Gables?” she said in a peculiarly clear, sweet voice. 42“I’m very glad to see you. I was beginning to be afraid you weren’t coming for me and I was imagining all the things that might have happened to prevent you. 43I had made up my mind that if you didn’t come for me tonight I’d go down the track to that big wild cherry tree at the bend, and climb up into it to stay all night. 44I wouldn’t be a bit afraid, and it would be lovely to sleep in a wild cherry tree all white with bloom in the moonshine, don’t you think? 45You could imagine you were dwelling in marble halls, couldn’t you? 46And I was quite sure you would come for me in the morning, if you didn’t tonight.”
47Matthew had taken the scrawny little hand awkwardly in his; then and there he decided what to do. 48He could not tell this child with the glowing eyes that there had been a mistake; he would take her home and let Marilla do that. 49She couldn’t be left at Bright River anyhow, no matter what mistake had been made, so all questions and explanations might as well be deferred until he was safely back at Green Gables.
50“I’m sorry I was late,” he said shyly. 51“Come along. 52The horse is over in the yard. Give me your bag.”
53“Oh, I can carry it,” the child responded cheerfully. 54“It isn’t heavy. 55I’ve got all my worldly goods in it, but it isn’t heavy. 56And if it isn’t carried in just a certain way the handle pulls out—so I’d better keep it because I know the exact knack of it. 57It’s an extremely old carpetbag. 58Oh, I’m very glad you’ve come, even if it would have been nice to sleep in a wild cherry tree. 59We’ve got to drive a long piece, haven’t we? 60Mrs. Spencer said it was eight miles. 61I’m glad, because I love driving. 62Oh, it seems so wonderful that I’m going to live with you and belong to you. 63I’ve never belonged to anybody—not really. 64But the asylum was the worst. 65I’ve only been in it four months, but that was enough. 66I don’t suppose you ever were an orphan in an asylum, so you can’t possibly understand what it is like. 67It’s worse than anything you could imagine. 68Mrs. Spencer said it was wicked of me to talk like that, but I didn’t mean to be wicked. 69It’s so easy to be wicked without knowing it, isn’t it? 70They were good, you know—the asylum people. 71But there is so little scope for the imagination in an asylum—only just in the other orphans. 72It was pretty interesting to imagine things about them—to imagine that perhaps the girl who sat next to you was really the daughter of a belted earl, who had been stolen away from her parents in her infancy by a cruel nurse who died before she could confess. 73I used to lie awake at nights and imagine things like that, because I didn’t have time in the day. 74I guess that’s why I’m so thin—I am dreadful thin, ain’t I? 75There isn’t a pick on my bones. 76I do love to imagine I’m nice and plump, with dimples in my elbows.”
77With this Matthew’s companion stopped talking, partly because she was out of breath and partly because they had reached the buggy. 78Not another word did she say until they had left the village and were driving down a steep little hill, the road part of which had been cut so deeply into the soft soil that the banks, fringed with blooming wild cherry trees and slim white birches, were several feet above their heads.
79The child put out her hand and broke off a branch of wild plum that brushed against the side of the buggy.
80“Isn’t that beautiful? 81What did that tree, leaning out from the bank, all white and lacy, make you think of?” she asked.
82“Well now, I dunno,” said Matthew.
83“Why, a bride, of course—a bride all in white with a lovely misty veil. 84I’ve never seen one, but I can imagine what she would look like. 85I don’t ever expect to be a bride myself. 86I’m so homely nobody will ever want to marry me—unless it might be a foreign missionary. 87I suppose a foreign missionary mightn’t be very particular. 88But I do hope that someday I shall have a white dress. 89That is my highest ideal of earthly bliss. 90I just love pretty clothes. 91And I’ve never had a pretty dress in my life that I can remember—but of course it’s all the more to look forward to, isn’t it? 92And then I can imagine that I’m dressed gorgeously. 93This morning when I left the asylum I felt so ashamed because I had to wear this horrid old wincey dress. 94All the orphans had to wear them, you know. 95A merchant in Hopetown last winter donated three hundred yards of wincey to the asylum. 96Some people said it was because he couldn’t sell it, but I’d rather believe that it was out of the kindness of his heart, wouldn’t you? 97When we got on the train I felt as if everybody must be looking at me and pitying me. 98But I just went to work and imagined that I had on the most beautiful pale blue silk dress—because when you are imagining you might as well imagine something worth while—and a big hat all flowers and nodding plumes, and a gold watch, and kid gloves and boots. 99I felt cheered up right away and I enjoyed my trip to the Island with all my might. 100I wasn’t a bit sick coming over in the boat. 101Neither was Mrs. Spencer, although she generally is. 102She said she hadn’t time to get sick, watching to see that I didn’t fall overboard. 103She said she never saw the beat of me for prowling about. 104But if it kept her from being seasick it’s a mercy I did prowl, isn’t it? 106And I wanted to see everything that was to be seen on that boat, because I didn’t know whether I’d ever have another opportunity. 107Oh, there are a lot more cherry trees all in bloom! 108This Island is the bloomiest place. 109I just love it already, and I’m so glad I’m going to live here. 110’ve always heard that Prince Edward Island was the prettiest place in the world, and I used to imagine I was living here, but I never really expected I would. 111It’s delightful when your imaginations come true, isn’t it? 112But those red roads are so funny. 113When we got into the train at Charlottetown and the red roads began to flash past I asked Mrs. Spencer what made them red and she said she didn’t know, and for pity’s sake not to ask her any more questions. 114She said I must have asked her a thousand already. 115I suppose I had, too, but how are you going find out about things if you don’t ask questions? 116And what does make the roads red?”
117“Well now, I dunno,” said Matthew.
118“Well, that is one of the things to find out sometime. 119Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? 120It just makes me feel glad to be alive—it’s such an interesting world. 121It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it? 122There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there? 123But am I talking too much? 124People are always telling me I do. 125Would you rather I didn’t talk? 126If you say so, I’ll stop. 127I can stop when I make up my mind to it, although it’s difficult.”
128Matthew, much to his own surprise, was enjoying himself. 129Like most quiet folks he liked talkative people when they were willing to do the talking themselves and did not expect him to keep up his end of it. 130But he had never expected to enjoy the society of a little girl. 131Women were bad enough in all conscience, but little girls were worse. 132He detested the way they had of sidling past him timidly, with sidewise glances, as if they expected him to gobble them up at a mouthful if they ventured to say a word. 133This was the Avonlea type of well-bred little girl. 134But this freckled witch was very different, and although he found it rather difficult for his slower intelligence to keep up with her brisk mental processes he thought that he “kind of liked her chatter.” 135So he said as shyly as usual:
136“Oh, you can talk as much as you like. 137I don’t mind.”
138“Oh, I’m so glad. 139I know you and I are going to get along together fine. 140It’s such a relief to talk when one wants to and not be told that children should be seen and not heard. 141I’ve had that said to me a million times if I have once. 142And people laugh at me because I use big words. 143But if you have big ideas you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?”
144“Well now, that seems reasonable,” said Matthew.
145“Mrs. Spencer said that my tongue must be hung in the middle. 146But it isn’t—it’s firmly fastened at one end. 147Mrs. Spencer said your place was named Green Gables. 148I asked her all about it. 149And she said there were trees all around it. 150I was gladder than ever. 151I just love trees. 152And there weren’t any at all about the asylum, only a few poor weeny–teeny things out in front with little whitewashed cagey things about them. 153They just looked like orphans themselves, those trees did. 153-1It used to make me want to cry to look at them. 154I used to say to them, ‘Oh, you poor little things! 155If you were out in a great big wood with other trees all around you and little mosses and Junebells growing over your roots and a brook not far away and birds singing in your branches, you could grow, couldn’t you? 156 But you can’t where you are. 157I know just exactly how you feel, little trees.’ 158I felt sorry to leave them behind this morning. 159You do get so attached to things like that, don’t you? 160ls there a brook anywhere near Green Gables? 161I forgot to ask Mrs. Spencer that.”
162“Well now, yes, there’s one right below the house.”
163“Fancy! 164It’s always been one of my dreams to live near a brook. 165I never expected I would, though. 166Dreams don’t often come true, do they? 167Wouldn’t it be nice if they did? 168But just now I feel pretty nearly perfectly happy. 169I can’t feel exactly perfectly happy because—well, what color would you call this?”
170She twitched one of her long glossy braids over her thin shoulder and held it up before Matthew’s eyes. 171Matthew was not used to deciding on the tints of ladies’ tresses, but in this case there couldn’t be much doubt.
172“It’s red, ain’t it?” he said.
173The girl let the braid drop back with a sigh that seemed to come from her very toes and to exhale forth all the sorrows of the ages.
174“Yes, it’s red,” she said resignedly. 175“Now you see why I can’t be perfectly happy. 176Nobody could who had red hair. 176-1I don’t mind the other things so much—the freckles and the green eyes and my skinniness. 177I can imagine them away. 178I can imagine that I have a beautiful rose-leaf complexion and lovely starry violet eyes. 178-1But I cannot imagine that red hair away. 179I do my best. 180I think to myself, ‘Now my hair is a glorious black, black as the raven’s wing.’ 181But all the time I know it is just plain red, and it breaks my heart. 182It will be my lifelong sorrow. 183I read of a girl once in a novel who had a lifelong sorrow, but it wasn’t red hair. 184Her hair was pure gold, rippling back from her alabaster brow. 185What is an alabaster brow? 186I never could find out. 187Can you tell me?”
188“Well now, I’m afraid I can’t,” said Matthew, who was getting a little dizzy. 189He felt as he had once felt in his rash youth, when another boy had enticed him on the merry-go-round at a picnic.
190“Well, whatever it was it must have been something nice because she was divinely beautiful. 191Have you ever imagined what it must feel like to be divinely beautiful?”
192“Well now, no, I haven’t,” confessed Matthew ingenuously.
193“I have, often. 194Which would you rather be if you had the choice—divinely beautiful or dazzlingly clever or angelically good?”
195“Well now, I—I don’t know exactly.”
196“Neither do I. 197I can never decide. 198But it doesn’t make much real difference, for it isn’t likely I’l ever be either. 199It’s certain I’ll never be angelically good. 200Mrs. Spencer says—oh, Mr. Cuthbert! 201Oh, Mr. Cuthbert!! 201-1Oh, Mr. Cuthbert!!!”
202That was not what Mrs. Spencer had said; neither had the child tumbled out of the buggy, nor had Matthew done anything astonishing. 203They had simply rounded a curve in the road and found themselves in the “Avenue.”
204The “Avenue,” so called by the Newbridge people, was a stretch of road four or five hundred yards long, completely arched over with huge, wide-spreading apple trees, planted years ago by an eccentric old farmer. 205Overhead was one long canopy of snowy, fragrant bloom. 206Below the boughs the air was full of a purple twilight and far ahead a glimpse of painted sunset sky shone like a great rose window at the end of a cathedral aisle.
207Its beauty seemed to strike the child dumb. 208She leaned back in the buggy, her thin hands clasped before her, her face lifted rapturously to the white splendor above. 209Even when they had passed out and were driving down the long slope to Newbridge she never moved or spoke. 210Still with rapt face she gazed afar into the sunset west, with eyes that saw visions trooping splendidly across that glowing background. 211Through Newbridge, a bustling little village where dogs barked at them and small boys hooted and curious faces peered from the windows, they drove, still in silence. 212When three more miles had dropped away behind them the child had not spoken. 213She could keep silence, it was evident, as energetically as she could talk.
214“I guess you’re feeling pretty tired and hungry,” Matthew ventured at last, accounting for her long visitation of dumbness with the only reason he could think of. 215“But we haven’t very far to go now—only another mile.”
216She came out of her reverie with a deep sigh and looked at him with the dreamy gaze of a soul that had been wandering afar, star-led.
217“Oh, Mr. Cuthbert,” she whispered, “that place we came through—that white place—what was it?”
218“Well now, you must mean the Avenue,” said Matthew after a few moments’ profound reflection. 219“It is a kind of pretty place.”
220“Pretty? 221Oh, pretty doesn’t seem the right word to use. 222Nor beautiful, either. 223They don’t go far enough. 224Oh, it was wonderful—wonderful. 225It’s the first thing I ever saw that couldn’t be improved upon by imagination. 226It just satisfied me here”—she put one hand on her breast—“it made a queer funny ache and yet it was a pleasant ache. 227Did you ever have an ache like that, Mr. Cuthbert?”
228“Well now, I just can’t recollect that I ever had.”
229“I have it lots of times-whenever I see anything royally beautiful. 230But they shouldn’t call that lovely place the Avenue. 231There is no meaning in a name like that. 232They should call it—let me see—the White Way of Delight. 233Isn’t that a nice imaginative name? 233-1When I don’t like the name of a place or a person I always imagine a new one and always think of them so. 234There was a girl at the asylum whose name was Hepzibah Jenkins, but I always imagined her as Rosalia De Vere. 235Other people may call that place the Avenue, but I shall always call it the White Way of Delight. 236Have we really only another mile to go before we get home? 237I’m glad and I’m sorry. 238I’m sorry because this drive has been so pleasant and I’m always sorry when pleasant things end. 239Something still pleasanter may come after, but you can never be sure. 240And it’s so often the case that it isn’t pleasanter. 241That has been my experience anyhow. 242But I’m glad to think of getting home. 243You see, I’ve never had a real home since I can remember. 244It gives me that pleasant ache again just to think of coming to a really truly home. 245Oh, isn’t that pretty!”
246They had driven over the crest of a hill. 247Below them was a pond, looking almost like a river so long and winding was it. 248A bridge spanned it midway and from there to its lower end, where an amber-hued belt of sand hills shut it in from the dark blue gulf beyond, the water was a glory of many shifting hues—the most spiritual shadings of crocus and rose and ethereal green, with other elusive tintings for which no name has ever been found. 249Above the bridge the pond ran up into fringing groves of fir and maple and lay all darkly translucent in their wavering shadows. 250Here and there a wild plum leaned out from the bank like a white-clad girl tiptoeing to her own reflection. 251From the marsh at the head of the pond came the clear, mournfully sweet chorus of the frogs. 252There was a little gray house peering around a white apple orchard on a slope beyond, and, although it was not yet quite dark, a light was shining from one of its windows.
253“That’s Barry’s pond,” said Matthew.
254“Oh, I don’t like that name, either. 255I shall call it—let me see—the Lake of Shining Waters. 256Yes, that is the right name for it. 257I know because of the thrill. 258When I hit on a name that suits exactly it gives me a thrill. 259Do things ever give you a thrill?”
261“Well now, yes. 262It always kind of gives me a thrill to see them ugly white grubs that spade up in the cucumber beds. 263I hate the look of them.”
264“Oh, I don’t think that can be exactly the same kind of a thrill. 265Do you think it can? 266There doesn’t seem to be much connection between grubs and lakes of shining water, does there? 267But why do other people call it Barry’s pond?”
268“I reckon because Mr. Barry lives up there in that house. 269Orchard Slope’s the name of his place. 270If it wasn’t for that big bush behind it you could see Green Gables from here. 271But we have to go over the bridge and round by the road, so it’s near half a mile further.”
272“Has Mr. Barry any little girls? 273Well, not so very little either—about my size?”
274“He’s got one about eleven. 275Her name is Diana.”
276“Oh!” with a long indrawing of breath. 277 “What a perfectly lovely name!”
278“Well now, I dunno. 279There’s something dreadful heathenish about it, seems to me. 280I’d rather Jane or Mary or some sensible name like that. 281But when Diana was born there was a schoolmaster boarding there and they gave him the naming of her and he called her Diana.”
282“I wish there had been a schoolmaster like that around when I was born, then. 283Oh, here we are at the bridge. 284I’m going to shut my eyes tight. 285I’m always afraid going over bridges. 286I can’t help imagining that perhaps, just as we get to the middle, they’ll crumple up like a jack-knife and nip us. 287So I shut my eyes. 288But I always have to open them for all when I think we’re getting near the middle. 289Because, you see, if the bridge did crumple up I’d want to see it crumple. 290What a jolly rumble it makes! 291I always like the rumble part of it. 292Isn’t it splendid there are so many things to like in this world? 293There, we’re over. 294Now I’ll look back. 295Good night, dear Lake of Shining Waters. 296I always say good night to the things I love, just as I would to people. 297I think they like it. 298That water looks as if it was smiling at me.”
299When they had driven up the further hill and around a corner Matthew said:
300“We’re pretty near home now. 301That’s Green Gables over—”
302“Oh, don’t tell me,” she interrupted breathlessly, catching at his partially raised arm and shutting her eyes that she might not see his gesture. 303“Let me guess. 304I’m sure I’ll guess right.”
305She opened her eyes and looked about her. 306They were on the crest of a hill. 307The sun had set some time since, but the landscape was still clear in the mellow afterlight. 308To the west a dark church spire rose up against a marigold sky. 309Below was a little valley, and beyond a long, gently rising slope with snug farmsteads scattered along it. 310From one to another the child’s eyes darted, eager and wistful. 311At last they lingered on one away to the left, far back from the road, dimly white with blossoming trees in the twilight of the surrounding woods. 312Over it, in the stainless southwest sky, a great crystal-white star was shining like a lamp of guidance and promise.
313“That’s it, isn’t it?” she said, pointing.
314Matthew slapped the reins on the sorrel’s back delightedly.
315“Well now, you’ve guessed it! 316But I reckon Mrs. Spencer described it so’s you could tell.”
317“No, she didn’t—really she didn’t. 318All she said might just as well have been about most of those other places. 319I hadn’t any real idea what it looked like. 320But just as soon as I saw it I felt it was home. 321Oh, it seems as if I must be in a dream. 322Do you know, my arm must be black and blue from the elbow up, for I’ve pinched myself so many times today. 324Every little while a horrible sickening feeling would come over me and I’d be so afraid it was all a dream. 325Then I’d pinch myself to see if it was real—until suddenly I remembered that even supposing it was only a dream I’d better go on dreaming as long as I could; so I stopped pinching. 326But it is real, and we’re nearly home.”
327With a sigh of rapture she relapsed into silence. 328Matthew stirred uneasily. 329He felt glad that it would be Marilla and not he who would have to tell this waif of the world that the home she longed for was not to be hers after all. 330They drove over Lynde’s Hollow, where it was already quite dark, but not so dark that Mrs. Rachel could not see them from her window vantage, and up the hill and into the long lane of Green Gables. 331By the time they arrived at the house Matthew was shrinking from the approaching revelation with an energy he did not understand. 332It was not of Marilla or himself he was thinking or of the trouble this mistake was probably going to make for them, but of the child’s disappointment. 333When he thought of that rapt light being quenched in her eyes he had an uncomfortable feeling that he was going to assist at murdering something—much the same feeling that came over him when he had to kill a lamb or calf or any other innocent little creature.
334The yard was quite dark as they turned into it, and the poplar leaves were rustling silkily all round it.
335“Listen to the trees talking in their sleep,” she whispered, as he lifted her to the ground. 336“What nice dreams they must have!”
337Then, holding tightly to the carpetbag which contained “all her worldly goods,” she followed him into the house.
［1］ ウィズダム英和辞典 第３版（2012）
［3］ ランダムハウス英語辞典 第２版（1993）
［4］ リーダーズ英和辞典 第３版（2012）
［11］英辞郎 on the WEB
［34］ Dictionary of Prince Edward Island English, Ed. by Pratt, T.K., University of Toronto Press (1996, eBook 2017)
［43］ 現代英文法講義 安藤貞雄著 開拓社（2005）
［341］ 赤毛のアン―Anne of Green Gables 講談社英語文庫（1997）
［342] 赤毛のアン―赤毛のアン・シリーズ1 村岡花子訳 新潮文庫（2008）Kindle版