No sucking the eggs

CAAF just emailed to remind me that Maud and I really should make time to have coffee with Anne of Green Gables. Hardy har har, CAAF. (Go visit CAAF right now at her brand-new digs — she has a comments feature so you can heckle her for me.)

You all might feel it’s Maud who’s doing the risky thing, coming to a strange (and strangely boring) country to visit a strange (also strangely boring) woman she’s never laid eyes on before, but we folks around here see things a little differently.

Marilla said, “Matthew went to Bright River. We’re getting a little boy from an orphan asylum in Nova Scotia and he’s coming on the train tonight.”

“Well, Marilla, I’ll just tell you plain that I think you’re doing a mighty foolish thing–a risky thing, that’s what. You don’t know what you’re getting. You’re bringing a strange child into your house and home and you don’t know a single thing about him nor what his disposition is like nor what sort of parents he had nor how he’s likely to turn out. Why, it was only last week I read in the paper how a man and his wife up west of the Island took a boy out of an orphan asylum and he set fire to the house at night–set it on purpose, Marilla–and nearly burnt them to a crisp in their beds. And I know another case where an adopted boy used to suck the eggs–they couldn’t break him of it. If you had asked my advice in the matter–which you didn’t do, Marilla–I’d have said for mercy’s sake not to think of such a thing, that’s what.”

This Job’s comforting seemed neither to offend nor to alarm Marilla. She knitted steadily on.

“I don’t deny there’s something in what you say, Rachel. I’ve had some qualms myself. But Matthew was terrible set on it. I could see that, so I gave in. It’s so seldom Matthew sets his mind on anything that when he does I always feel it’s my duty to give in. And as for the risk, there’s risks in pretty near everything a body does in this world. There’s risks in people’s having children of their own if it comes to that–they don’t always turn out well. And then Nova Scotia is right close to the Island. It isn’t as if we were getting him from England or the States. He can’t be much different from ourselves.”

“Well, I hope it will turn out all right,” said Mrs. Rachel in a tone that plainly indicated her painful doubts. “Only don’t say I didn’t warn you if he burns Green Gables down or puts strychnine in the well–I heard of a case over in New Brunswick where an orphan asylum child did that and the whole family died in fearful agonies. Only, it was a girl in that instance.”

“Well, we’re not getting a girl,” said Marilla, as if poisoning wells were a purely feminine accomplishment and not to be dreaded in the case of a boy. “I’d never dream of taking a girl…”


Comments are closed.