en-fr  Anne of Green Gables /Chapter XXIII
CHAPITRE XXIII.


ANNE ÉCHOUE DANS UNE HISTOIRE D'HONNEUR.


Anne fut obligée de survivre bien plus de deux semaines, comme nous allons voir. Presque un mois s'était écoulé depuis l'épisode du gâteau au liniment. Il était grand temps pour elle d'avoir de nouveaux problèmes, de faire de petites erreurs, comme de vider par distraction une casserole de lait écrémé dans un panier de pelotes de fil au cellier au lieu du seau des cochons. Et marcher sur le bord du pont de bois pour tomber dans le ruisseau en étant entièrement plongée dans une rêverie romanesque, ne valait vraiment pas la peine d'être comptabilisé.

Une semaine après le thé au presbytère Diana Barry donna une fête.

— Une petite fête, avec des invitées soigneusement choisies, assura Anne à Marilla. Seulement les filles de notre classe.

Elles passèrent un très bon moment et il n'arriva rien d'anormal jusqu'à la fin du goûter, quand elles se retrouvèrent dans le jardin des Barry, un peu fatiguées de tous leurs jeux et mûres pour n'importe quelle sottise alléchante qui pourrait se présenter. Elle prit la forme du mot « chiche ».

« Chiche » était l'amusement à la mode parmi le menu fretin d'Avonlea. Il avait commencé chez les garçons, mais avait rapidement contaminé les filles, et toutes les idioties qui avaient été commises durant cet été à Avonlea, résultant des défis lancés aux audacieux, auraient pu à elles seules remplir un livre.

Tout d'abord, Carrie Sloane mit au défi Ruby Gillis de grimper jusqu'au une certaine hauteur de l'immense saule pleureur devant la porte d'entrée ; ce que Ruby Gillis, en dépit d'une peur mortelle des grosses chenilles vertes dont ledit arbre était infesté et la crainte de sa mère en tête si elle en venait à déchirer sa robe de mousseline neuve, fit avec agilité, à la déconvenue de Carrie Sloane.

Puis, Josie Pye défia Jane Andrews de réussir à sauter tout autour du jardin à cloche pied sur sa jambe gauche sans s'arrêter une seule fois, ou poser son pied droit sur le sol ; ce que Jane Andrews essaya courageusement de faire, mais abandonna au troisième coin, forcée de s'avouer vaincue.

Le triomphe de Josie s'étant affiché plus que ne l'aurait permis la décence, Anne Shirley lui lança pour défi de marcher sur le haut de la palissade qui entourait le jardin à l'est. Or, marcher sur une palissade demande plus d'adresse et d'équilibre dans la tête et les talons que ne pourrait le supposer quelqu'un qui n'a jamais essayé. Mais Josie Pye, s'il lui manquait certaines qualités pour la rendre populaire, avait au moins un don naturel inné, dûment cultivé, pour marcher sur des palissades. Josie marcha sur la clôture des Barry avec un détachement désinvolte qui semblait vouloir dire qu'une petite chose telle que ça n'avait pas valeur de véritable défi. Une admiration réticente salua son exploit, car la plupart des autres filles pouvaient l'apprécier, ayant elles-mêmes eu beaucoup de mal lors de leurs efforts pour marcher sur les clôtures. Josie descendit de son perchoir, rayonnante de sa victoire, en jetant un regard de défi à Anne.

Anne secoua ses tresses rousses.

— Je ne trouve pas que ce soit si formidable de faire quelques pas sur une palissade basse, dit-elle. Je connaissais une fille à Marysville qui pouvait marcher sur le faîtage d'un toit.

— Je ne le crois pas, dit Josie.sans ambage. Je ne pense pas que quelqu'un puisse marcher sur un faîtage. Tu ne pourrais pas le faire, de toutes façons.

— Je ne pourrais pas ? s'écria Anne imprudemment.

— Alors, je parie que tu ne le fais pas, la défia Josie. Je te défie de grimper là et de marcher sur le faîtage du toit de la cuisine de M. Barry.

Anne pâlit, mais il ne lui restait clairement qu'une seule chose à faire. Elle se dirigea vers la maison où une échelle se dressait contre le toit de la cuisine. Toute la classe de filles de cinquième s'écria : — Oh ! Pour moitié d'excitation, pour moitié de consternation.

— Ne fais pas ça, Anne, implora Diana. — Tu vas tomber et te tuer. N'écoute pas Josie Pye. Ce n'est pas du jeu de mettre quelqu'un au défi de faire quelque chose d'aussi dangereux.

— Je dois le faire. Mon honneur est en jeu, dit Anne solennellement. — Je vais marcher sur le faîtage de ce toit, Diana, même si je dois en mourir. Si je meurs, tu auras ma bague de perles.
Anne grimpa à l'échelle dans un silence à couper le souffle, gagna la crête du faîtage, se redressa sur cet emplacement précaire, et commença à marcher le long de celui-ci, confusément consciente qu'elle était désagréablement perchée dans les airs et que marcher sur un faîtage est une chose à laquelle votre imagination ne peut guère vous aider. Néanmoins, elle réussit à faire plusieurs pas avant la catastrophe. Elle chancela, perdit l'équilibre, trébucha, tituba, tomba, et, glissant sur le toit que le soleil avait rendu brûlant, elle s'écrasa à travers l'enchevêtrement de la vigne vierge en-dessous : tout cela avant que le cercle consterné ne pousse à l'unisson un cri de terreur.

Si Anne était tombée du toit du côté où elle était montée, Diana aurait probablement hérité de la bague de perles. Heureusement elle était tombée de l'autre côté, là où le toit se prolongeait par delà le porche si proche du sol qu'une chute de ce côté était beaucoup moins grave. Néanmoins, lorsque Diana et les autres filles se précipitèrent en faisant le tour de la maison — sauf Ruby Gillis, qui restait clouée au sol comme enracinée et hystérique — elles trouvèrent Anne étendue, blême et toute molle sur les débris et les restes de la vigne vierge.

— Anne, tu es morte ? hurla Diana, en se jetant à genoux au côté de son amie. Oh, Anne, Anne chérie, dis mois juste un mot et dis moi que tu n'es pas morte.

À l'immense soulagement de toutes, et particulièrement de Josie Pye, qui, malgré son manque d'imagination avait été saisie par l'horrible vision d'un futur marqué du sceau de celle qui avait causé la fin tragique et prématurée d'Anne Shirley, Anne s'assit toute étourdie, et répondit d'une voix incertaine : — Non Diana, je ne me suis pas tuée, mais je crois bien que j'ai perdu connaissance.

— Où ça ? sanglota Carrie Sloane Oh, où Anne ?

Avant qu'Anne ait pu répondre, Mme Barry fit son apparition sur la scène. A sa vue Anne tenta de se remettre maladroitement sur pieds, mais retomba avec un petit cri de douleur.

— Que se passe-t-il ? Où t'es-tu blessée ? demanda Mme Barry.

— À la cheville, souffla Anne. — Oh, Diana, s'il te plaît, va trouver ton père et demande-lui de me ramener à la maison. Je sais que je ne pourrai jamais marcher jusque là-bas. Et je suis sûre que je ne pourrai pas sauter à cloche-pied aussi loin alors que Jane n'a même pas pu faire le tour du jardin.

Marilla était dehors dans le verger à cueillir quelques pommes d'été quand elle vit M. Barry franchir le pont en rondins et remonter la pente avec Mme Barry à son côté et tout un cortège de petites filles à sa traîne. Dans ses bras, il portait Anne dont la tête reposait mollement contre son épaule.

— À cet instant, Marilla eut une révélation. La frayeur qui lui étreignit soudainement le cœur lui fit réaliser ce que Anne représentait désormais pour elle. Elle aurait volontiers admis qu'elle aimait bien Anne, pas qu'elle l'aimait éperdument. Mais à présent, elle avait la conviction, alors qu'elle dévalait la pente, qu'Anne lui était plus chère que n'importe quoi sur terre.

— Monsieur Barry, que lui est-il arrivé ? dit-elle pantelante, plus blanche et plus bouleversée qu'elle, la Marilla toujours si sage et maîtresse de ses nerfs, n'avait plus été depuis de nombreuses années.

Anne, soulevant la tête, lui répondit elle-même.

— Ne sois pas trop inquiète, Marilla. Je marchais sur le faîte du toit et je suis tombée. Je pense que je me suis foulé la cheville. Mais, Marilla, j'aurais pu me rompre le cou. Considérons les choses du bon côté.

— En te laissant aller à la fête, j'aurais dû me douter que tu ferais une chose de ce genre, répondit Marilla sur un ton coupant et acariâtre malgré son immense soulagement. Amenez-la par ici, M. Barry, et allongez-la sur le sofa. Doux Jésus, la petite s'est évanouie !

C'était on ne peut plus vrai. Submergée par la douleur provoquée par sa blessure, Anne vit être exaucé un autre de ses souhaits. Elle s'était évanouie sur le coup.

Matthew, qu'on avait en hâte rappelé des champs, fut immédiatement envoyé chercher le docteur qui, arrivant aussitôt, se rendit compte que la blessure était plus grave qu'ils ne l'avaient tous pensé. Anne s'était cassé la cheville.

Cette nuit-là, quand Marilla monta au pignon est, où une petite fille à la mine pâlotte était alitée, une voix plaintive l'accueillit.

— N'es-tu pas vraiment navrée pour moi, Marilla ?

— C'est entièrement de ta faute, dit Marilla, baissant le store et allumant une lampe.

— Et c'est justement pourquoi tu devrais être navrée pour moi, dit Anne, parce que c'est penser que tout est de ma faute qui me rend la chose si difficile. Si je pouvais blâmer quelqu'un, je me sentirais tellement mieux. Mais qu'aurais-tu fait, Marilla, si on t'avait défié de marcher sur un faîtage ?

— Je serais restée sur le bon sol ferme et je les aurais laissé continuer à défier. Quelle absurdité ! dit Marilla.

Anne soupira.

— Tu as une telle force de caractère, Marilla. Pas moi. J'ai simplement ressenti que je ne pourrai pas supporter la raillerie de Josie Pye. Elle se serait moquée de moi toute ma vie durant. Et je pense que j'ai déjà été tellement punie que tu n'as pas besoin d'être vraiment fâchée contre moi, Marilla. Ce n'est pas du tout agréable de s'évanouir, finalement. Et le docteur m'a fait très mal quand il s'occupait de ma cheville. Je ne pourrai pas bouger pendant six ou sept semaines et je manquerai l'arrivée de la nouvelle enseignante. Elle ne sera plus nouvelle au moment où je pourrai aller à l'école. Et Gil... tout le monde sera plus avancé que moi en classe. Oh, je suis une mortelle bien affligée. Mais je vais essayer de tout supporter courageusement si seulement tu n'es pas fâchée contre moi, Marilla.

— Allons, allons, je ne t'en veux pas, dit Marilla. — Tu es une enfant malchanceuse, il n'y a aucun doute à ça ; mais, comme tu le dis, tu vas souffrir à cause de ça. Voyons, essaie de manger quelque chose.

— N'est-ce pas une bénédiction d'avoir une telle imagination ? dit Anne. — Ça m'apportera une aide merveilleuse, je pense. Que font les gens qui n'ont aucune imagination lorsqu'ils se cassent quelque chose, penses-tu, Marilla ?

Anne eut de bonnes raison de bénir son imagination bien souvent au cours des sept semaines qui suivirent. Mais elle ne dépendait pas exclusivement d'elle. Elle avait beaucoup de visiteurs et il ne se passait pas un jour sans qu'une ou plusieurs des écolières ne fassent un saut pour lui apporter des fleurs, des livres et lui raconter les évènements du monde juvénile d'Avonlea.

— Tout le monde a été si bon et si gentil, Marilla, soupira Anne joyeusement, le jour où elle put à nouveau boitiller de long en large. Ce n'est pas très agréable de rester allongée ; mais il y a de bons côtés à ça, Marilla. Tu t'aperçois du nombre d'amis que tu as. Ainsi, même le superintendant Bell est venu me voir, c'est vraiment un homme bien. Pas un esprit brillant, bien sûr, mais cependant je l'apprécie et je suis terriblement désolée d'avoir un jour critiqué ses prières. Je crois maintenant qu'il doit vraiment croire en elles, seulement il s'est habitué à les dire comme si ce n'était pas le cas. Il pourrait faire mieux s'il se donnait un peu de mal. Je le lui ai bien laissé entendre. Je lui ai dit à quel point j'essayais de rendre intéressantes mes propres petites prières personnelles. Il m'a parlé de la fois où il s'était brisé la cheville quand il était enfant. C'est tellement étrange de penser que le superintendant Bell ait jamais été un enfant. Même mon imagination a ses limites car je ne peux imaginer cela. Quand j'essaye de l'imaginer petit garçon je le vois avec des moustaches grises et des lunettes, exactement comme il est à l'école du dimanche, seulement en petit. Alors qu'il est tellement facile d'imaginer Mme Allan en petite fille. Mme Allan est venue me voir quatorze fois. N'est-ce pas un sujet de fierté, Marilla ? Alors qu'une femme de pasteur a autant de demandes à satisfaire. C'est quelqu'un de si gentil, d'être venue te voir, aussi. Elle ne te dit jamais que c'est ta faute, et elle qu'espère que tu seras plus sage après ça. Mme Lynde me dit toujours ça quand elle vient me voir, et elle le dit d'une façon qui me fait penser que c'est dans l'espoir que je m'améliore, mais qu'elle ne pense pas vraiment que le le fasse. Même Josie Pye est venue me voir. Je l'ai reçue aussi poliment que possible, parce que je pense qu'elle regrettait de m'avoir mise au defi de marcher sur le faîte. Si j'étais morte, elle aurait porté le lourd fardeau de la culpabilité toute sa vie. Diana s'est montrée une amie fidèle. Elle est passée tous les jours m'encourager sur mon oreiller de solitaire. Mais oh, je serai si heureuse de pouvoir retourner à l'école car j'ai entendu tant de choses passionnantes au sujet de la nouvelle institutrice. Les filles pensent toutes qu'elle est tout à fait délicieuse. Diana dit qu'elle a les plus beaux cheveux blonds bouclés et un regard tellement fascinant. Elle s'habille élégamment, et personne à Avonlea n'a de manches plus bouffantes que les siennes. Chaque vendredi après-midi, elle organise des cours de récitations et tout le monde doit dire un passage ou participer à un dialogue. Oh, c'est juste fabuleux rien que d'y penser. Josie Pye dit qu'elle déteste ça, mais c'est uniquement parce que Josie manque tellement d'imagination. Diana, Ruby Gillis et Jane Andrews préparent un dialogue intitulé « Une visite matinale », pour vendredi prochain. Et les vendredis après-midi, où ils n'ont pas récitation, Mlle Stacy les emmène tous dans les bois pour une « classe verte » et ils étudient les fougères, les fleurs et les oiseaux. Et ils ont des exercices de culture physique tous les matins et tous les soirs. Mme Lynde dit qu'elle n'a jamais entendu parler de telles activités et tout cela vient du fait que ce soit une enseignante. Mais cela doit être épatant et je crois que je trouverai une âme sœur en la personne de mademoiselle Stacy.

— Une chose parait évidente, Anne, dit Marilla, c'est que ta chute du toit des Barry ne t'a absolument pas abimé la langue.
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CHAPTER XXIII.
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ANNE COMES TO GRIEF IN AN AFFAIR OF HONOUR.
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Anne had to live through more than two weeks, as it happened.
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A week after the tea at the manse Diana Barry gave a party.
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"Small and select," Anne assured Marilla.
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"Just the girls in our class."
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This presently took the form of "daring."
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Daring was the fashionable amusement among the Avonlea small fry just then.
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Josie descended from her perch, flushed with victory, and darted a defiant glance at Anne.
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Anne tossed her red braids.
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"I don't think it's such a very wonderful thing to walk a little, low, board fence," she said.
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"I knew a girl in Marysville who could walk the ridge-pole of a roof."
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"I don't believe it," said Josie flatly.
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"I don't believe anybody could walk a ridge-pole.
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You couldn't, anyhow."
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"Couldn't I?"
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cried Anne rashly.
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"Then I dare you to do it," said Josie defiantly.
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"I dare you to climb up there and walk the ridge-pole of Mr. Barry's kitchen roof."
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Anne turned pale, but there was clearly only one thing to be done.
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She walked towards the house, where a ladder was leaning against the kitchen roof.
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All the fifth-class girls said, "Oh!"
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partly in excitement, partly in dismay.
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"Don't you do it, Anne," entreated Diana.
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"You'll fall off and be killed.
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Never mind Josie Pye.
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It isn't fair to dare anybody to do anything so dangerous."
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"I must do it.
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My honour is at stake," said Anne solemnly.
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"I shall walk that ridge-pole, Diana, or perish in the attempt.
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If I am killed you are to have my pearl bead ring."
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Nevertheless, she managed to take several steps before the catastrophe came.
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"Anne, are you killed?"
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shrieked Diana, throwing herself on her knees beside her friend.
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"Oh, Anne, dear Anne, speak just one word to me and tell me if you're killed."
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"Where?"
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sobbed Carrie Sloane.
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"Oh, where, Anne?"
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Before Anne could answer Mrs. Barry appeared on the scene.
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"What's the matter?
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Where have you hurt yourself?"
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demanded Mrs. Barry.
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"My ankle," gasped Anne.
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"Oh, Diana, please find your father and ask him to take me home.
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I know I can never walk there.
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And I'm sure I couldn't hop so far on one foot when Jane couldn't even hop around the garden."
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In his arms he carried Anne, whose head lay limply against his shoulder.
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At that moment Marilla had a revelation.
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She would have admitted that she liked Anne—nay, that she was very fond of Anne.
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"Mr. Barry, what has happened to her?"
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she gasped, more white and shaken than the self-contained, sensible Marilla had been for many years.
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Anne herself answered, lifting her head.
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"Don't be very frightened, Marilla.
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I was walking the ridge-pole and I fell off.
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I expect I have sprained my ankle.
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But, Marilla, I might have broken my neck.
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Let us look on the bright side of things.
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"Bring her in here, Mr. Barry, and lay her on the sofa.
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Mercy me, the child has gone and fainted!"
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It was quite true.
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Overcome by the pain of her injury, Anne had one more of her wishes granted to her.
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She had fainted dead away.
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Anne's ankle was broken.
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"Aren't you very sorry for me, Marilla?"
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"It was your own fault," said Marilla, twitching down the blind and lighting a lamp.
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If I could blame it on anybody I would feel so much better.
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But what would you have done, Marilla, if you had been dared to walk a ridge-pole?"
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"I'd have stayed on good firm ground and let them dare away.
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Such absurdity!"
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said Marilla.
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Anne sighed.
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"But you have such strength of mind, Marilla.
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I haven't.
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I just felt that I couldn't bear Josie Pye's scorn.
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She would have crowed over me all my life.
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And I think I have been punished so much that you needn't be very cross with me, Marilla.
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It's not a bit nice to faint, after all.
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And the doctor hurt me dreadfully when he was setting my ankle.
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I won't be able to go around for six or seven weeks and I'll miss the new lady teacher.
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She won't be new any more by the time I'm able to go to school.
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And Gil— everybody will get ahead of me in class.
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Oh, I am an afflicted mortal.
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But I'll try to bear it all bravely if only you won't be cross with me, Marilla."
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"There, there, I'm not cross," said Marilla.
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Here now, try and eat some supper."
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"Isn't it fortunate I've got such an imagination?"
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said Anne.
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"It will help me through splendidly, I expect.
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What do people who haven't any imagination do when they break their bones, do you suppose, Marilla?"
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 116
But she was not solely dependent on it.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 119
"It isn't very pleasant to be laid up; but there is a bright side to it, Marilla.
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unit 120
You find out how many friends you have.
1 Translations, 5 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 121
Why, even Superintendent Bell came to see me, and he's really a very fine man.
2 Translations, 6 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 122
unit 123
unit 124
He could get over that if he'd take a little trouble.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 125
I gave him a good broad hint.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 126
I told him how hard I tried to make my own little private prayers interesting.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 127
He told me all about the time he broke his ankle when he was a boy.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 128
It does seem so strange to think of Superintendent Bell ever being a boy.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 129
Even my imagination has its limits for I can't imagine that.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 131
Now, it's so easy to imagine Mrs. Allan as a little girl.
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unit 132
Mrs. Allan has been to see me fourteen times.
1 Translations, 5 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 133
Isn't that something to be proud of, Marilla?
1 Translations, 5 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 134
When a minister's wife has so many claims on her time!
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unit 135
She is such a cheerful person to have visit you, too.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
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She never tells you it's your own fault and she hopes you'll be a better girl on account of it.
3 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 138
Even Josie Pye came to see me.
2 Translations, 7 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 139
unit 140
If I had been killed she would have had to carry a dark burden of remorse all her life.
1 Translations, 6 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 141
Diana has been a faithful friend.
1 Translations, 6 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
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She's been over every day to cheer my lonely pillow.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
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The girls all think she is perfectly sweet.
1 Translations, 6 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
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Diana says she has the loveliest fair curly hair and such fascinating eyes.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
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She dresses beautifully, and her sleeve puffs are bigger than anybody else's in Avonlea.
4 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 148
Oh, it's just glorious to think of it.
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unit 149
Josie Pye says she hates it, but that is just because Josie has so little imagination.
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unit 152
And they have physical culture exercises every morning and evening.
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unit 153
Mrs. Lynde says she never heard of such goings-on and it all comes of having a lady teacher.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 154
But I think it must be splendid and I believe I shall find that Miss Stacy is a kindred spirit."
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 3 weeks ago
Gabrielle • 13930  commented on  unit 151  5 months, 3 weeks ago
Gabrielle • 13930  commented on  unit 143  5 months, 3 weeks ago
gaelle044 • 5134  commented on  unit 155  5 months, 3 weeks ago
gaelle044 • 5134  translated  unit 97  5 months, 3 weeks ago
francevw • 14085  commented on  unit 68  5 months, 3 weeks ago
Gabrielle • 13930  commented on  unit 29  5 months, 3 weeks ago
Gabrielle • 13930  commented on  unit 4  5 months, 3 weeks ago
gaelle044 • 5134  commented on  unit 1  5 months, 3 weeks ago
gaelle044 • 5134  commented on  unit 1  5 months, 3 weeks ago
gaelle044 • 5134  commented  5 months, 3 weeks ago

Update: Thank to Gaby and her watching the movie, we now know that:
1. Anne only use the formal form ("vous") at the start, but later (we agreed for Chapter XI) she will say "tu" to Marilla and Matthew, and the formal form with everybody else but her classmates. Marilla and Rachel are friends and they use "tu".
2. She likes overstatements and superlatives.
3. We need to translate "green gables" by "les pignons verts" as it is done in the movie.
by gaelle044 2 weeks ago

Anne of Green Gables (1908)

Written for all ages, it has been considered a children's novel since the mid-twentieth century. It recounts the adventures of Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan girl who is mistakenly sent to Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a middle-aged brother and sister who had intended to adopt a boy to help them on their farm in Prince Edward Island. The novel recounts how Anne makes her way with the Cuthberts, in school, and within the town. Since publication, Anne of Green Gables has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 20 languages. It has been adapted as film, made-for-television movies, and animated and live-action television series. — Excerpted from Anne of Green Gables (1908) on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Anne_of_Green_Gables_(1908)

by gaelle044 5 months, 3 weeks ago

CHAPTER XXIII.

ANNE COMES TO GRIEF IN AN AFFAIR OF HONOUR.

Anne had to live through more than two weeks, as it happened. Almost a month having elapsed since the liniment cake episode, it was high time for her to get into fresh trouble of some sort, little mistakes, such as absent-mindedly emptying a pan of skim milk into a basket of yarn balls in the pantry instead of into the pigs' bucket, and walking clean over the edge of the log bridge into the brook while wrapped in imaginative reverie, not really being worth counting.

A week after the tea at the manse Diana Barry gave a party.

"Small and select," Anne assured Marilla. "Just the girls in our class."

They had a very good time and nothing untoward happened until after tea, when they found themselves in the Barry garden, a little tired of all their games and ripe for any enticing form of mischief which might present itself. This presently took the form of "daring."

Daring was the fashionable amusement among the Avonlea small fry just then. It had begun among the boys, but soon spread to the girls, and all the silly things that were done in Avonlea that summer because the doers thereof were "dared" to do them would fill a book by themselves.

First of all Carrie Sloane dared Ruby Gillis to climb to a certain point in the huge old willow-tree before the front door; which Ruby Gillis, albeit in mortal dread of the fat green caterpillars with which said tree was infested and with the fear of her mother before her eyes if she should tear her new muslin dress, nimbly did, to the discomfiture of the aforesaid Carrie Sloane.

Then Josie Pye dared Jane Andrews to hop on her left leg around the garden without stopping once or putting her right foot to the ground; which Jane Andrews gamely tried to do, but gave out at the third corner and had to confess herself defeated.

Josie's triumph being rather more pronounced than good taste permitted, Anne Shirley dared her to walk along the top of the board fence which bounded the garden to the east. Now, to "walk" board fences requires more skill and steadiness of head and heel than one might suppose who has never tried it. But Josie Pye, if deficient in some qualities that make for popularity, had at least a natural and inborn gift, duly cultivated, for walking board fences. Josie walked the Barry fence with an airy unconcern which seemed to imply that a little thing like that wasn't worth a "dare." Reluctant admiration greeted her exploit, for most of the other girls could appreciate it, having suffered many things themselves in their efforts to walk fences. Josie descended from her perch, flushed with victory, and darted a defiant glance at Anne.

Anne tossed her red braids.

"I don't think it's such a very wonderful thing to walk a little, low, board fence," she said. "I knew a girl in Marysville who could walk the ridge-pole of a roof."

"I don't believe it," said Josie flatly. "I don't believe anybody could walk a ridge-pole. You couldn't, anyhow."

"Couldn't I?" cried Anne rashly.

"Then I dare you to do it," said Josie defiantly. "I dare you to climb up there and walk the ridge-pole of Mr. Barry's kitchen roof."

Anne turned pale, but there was clearly only one thing to be done. She walked towards the house, where a ladder was leaning against the kitchen roof. All the fifth-class girls said, "Oh!" partly in excitement, partly in dismay.

"Don't you do it, Anne," entreated Diana. "You'll fall off and be killed. Never mind Josie Pye. It isn't fair to dare anybody to do anything so dangerous."

"I must do it. My honour is at stake," said Anne solemnly. "I shall walk that ridge-pole, Diana, or perish in the attempt. If I am killed you are to have my pearl bead ring."
Anne climbed the ladder amid breathless silence, gained the ridge-pole, balanced herself uprightly on that precarious footing, and started to walk along it, dizzily conscious that she was uncomfortably high up in the world and that walking ridge-poles was not a thing in which your imagination helped you out much. Nevertheless, she managed to take several steps before the catastrophe came. Then she swayed, lost her balance, stumbled, staggered and fell, sliding down over the sun-baked roof and crashing off it through the tangle of Virginia creeper beneath—all before the dismayed circle below could give a simultaneous, terrified shriek.

If Anne had tumbled off the roof on the side up which she ascended Diana would probably have fallen heir to the pearl bead ring then and there. Fortunately she fell on the other side, where the roof extended down over the porch so nearly to the ground that a fall therefrom was a much less serious thing. Nevertheless, when Diana and the other girls had rushed frantically around the house—except Ruby Gillis, who remained as if rooted to the ground and went into hysterics—they found Anne lying all white and limp among the wreck and ruin of the Virginia creeper.

"Anne, are you killed?" shrieked Diana, throwing herself on her knees beside her friend. "Oh, Anne, dear Anne, speak just one word to me and tell me if you're killed."

To the immense relief of all the girls, and especially of Josie Pye, who, in spite of lack of imagination, had been seized with horrible visions of a future branded as the girl who was the cause of Anne Shirley's early and tragic death, Anne sat dizzily up and answered uncertainly:

"No, Diana, I am not killed, but I think I am rendered unconscious."

"Where?" sobbed Carrie Sloane. "Oh, where, Anne?"

Before Anne could answer Mrs. Barry appeared on the scene. At sight of her Anne tried to scramble to her feet, but sank back again with a sharp little cry of pain.

"What's the matter? Where have you hurt yourself?" demanded Mrs. Barry.

"My ankle," gasped Anne. "Oh, Diana, please find your father and ask him to take me home. I know I can never walk there. And I'm sure I couldn't hop so far on one foot when Jane couldn't even hop around the garden."

Marilla was out in the orchard picking a panful of summer apples when she saw Mr. Barry coming over the log bridge and up the slope, with Mrs. Barry beside him and a whole procession of little girls trailing after him. In his arms he carried Anne, whose head lay limply against his shoulder.

At that moment Marilla had a revelation. In the sudden stab of fear that pierced to her very heart she realized what Anne had come to mean to her. She would have admitted that she liked Anne—nay, that she was very fond of Anne. But now she knew as she hurried wildly down the slope that Anne was dearer to her than anything on earth.

"Mr. Barry, what has happened to her?" she gasped, more white and shaken than the self-contained, sensible Marilla had been for many years.

Anne herself answered, lifting her head.

"Don't be very frightened, Marilla. I was walking the ridge-pole and I fell off. I expect I have sprained my ankle. But, Marilla, I might have broken my neck. Let us look on the bright side of things.

"I might have known you'd go and do something of the sort when I let you go to that party," said Marilla, sharp and shrewish in her very relief. "Bring her in here, Mr. Barry, and lay her on the sofa. Mercy me, the child has gone and fainted!"

It was quite true. Overcome by the pain of her injury, Anne had one more of her wishes granted to her. She had fainted dead away.

Matthew, hastily summoned from the harvest field, was straightway despatched for the doctor, who in due time came, to discover that the injury was more serious than they had supposed. Anne's ankle was broken.

That night, when Marilla went up to the east gable, where a white-faced girl was lying, a plaintive voice greeted her from the bed.

"Aren't you very sorry for me, Marilla?"

"It was your own fault," said Marilla, twitching down the blind and lighting a lamp.

"And that is just why you should be sorry for me," said Anne, "because the thought that it is all my own fault is what makes it so hard. If I could blame it on anybody I would feel so much better. But what would you have done, Marilla, if you had been dared to walk a ridge-pole?"

"I'd have stayed on good firm ground and let them dare away. Such absurdity!" said Marilla.

Anne sighed.

"But you have such strength of mind, Marilla. I haven't. I just felt that I couldn't bear Josie Pye's scorn. She would have crowed over me all my life. And I think I have been punished so much that you needn't be very cross with me, Marilla. It's not a bit nice to faint, after all. And the doctor hurt me dreadfully when he was setting my ankle. I won't be able to go around for six or seven weeks and I'll miss the new lady teacher. She won't be new any more by the time I'm able to go to school. And Gil— everybody will get ahead of me in class. Oh, I am an afflicted mortal. But I'll try to bear it all bravely if only you won't be cross with me, Marilla."

"There, there, I'm not cross," said Marilla. "You're an unlucky child, there's no doubt about that; but, as you say, you'll have the suffering of it. Here now, try and eat some supper."

"Isn't it fortunate I've got such an imagination?" said Anne. "It will help me through splendidly, I expect. What do people who haven't any imagination do when they break their bones, do you suppose, Marilla?"

Anne had good reason to bless her imagination many a time and oft during the tedious seven weeks that followed. But she was not solely dependent on it. She had many visitors and not a day passed without one or more of the schoolgirls dropping in to bring her flowers and books and tell her all the happenings in the juvenile world of Avonlea.

"Everybody has been so good and kind, Marilla," sighed Anne happily, on the day when she could first limp across the floor. "It isn't very pleasant to be laid up; but there is a bright side to it, Marilla. You find out how many friends you have. Why, even Superintendent Bell came to see me, and he's really a very fine man. Not a kindred spirit, of course; but still I like him and I'm awfully sorry I ever criticized his prayers. I believe now he really does mean them, only he has got into the habit of saying them as if he didn't. He could get over that if he'd take a little trouble. I gave him a good broad hint. I told him how hard I tried to make my own little private prayers interesting. He told me all about the time he broke his ankle when he was a boy. It does seem so strange to think of Superintendent Bell ever being a boy. Even my imagination has its limits for I can't imagine that. When I try to imagine him as a boy I see him with gray whiskers and spectacles, just as he looks in Sunday-school, only small. Now, it's so easy to imagine Mrs. Allan as a little girl. Mrs. Allan has been to see me fourteen times. Isn't that something to be proud of, Marilla? When a minister's wife has so many claims on her time! She is such a cheerful person to have visit you, too. She never tells you it's your own fault and she hopes you'll be a better girl on account of it. Mrs. Lynde always told me that when she came to see me; and she said it in a kind of way that made me feel she might hope I'd be a better girl, but didn't really believe I would. Even Josie Pye came to see me. I received her as politely as I could, because I think she was sorry she dared me to walk a ridge-pole. If I had been killed she would have had to carry a dark burden of remorse all her life. Diana has been a faithful friend. She's been over every day to cheer my lonely pillow. But oh, I shall be so glad when I can go to school for I've heard such exciting things about the new teacher. The girls all think she is perfectly sweet. Diana says she has the loveliest fair curly hair and such fascinating eyes. She dresses beautifully, and her sleeve puffs are bigger than anybody else's in Avonlea. Every other Friday afternoon she has recitations and everybody has to say a piece or take part in a dialogue. Oh, it's just glorious to think of it. Josie Pye says she hates it, but that is just because Josie has so little imagination. Diana and Ruby Gillis and Jane Andrews are preparing a dialogue, called 'A Morning Visit,' for next Friday. And the Friday afternoons they don't have recitations Miss Stacy takes them all to the woods for a 'field' day and they study ferns and flowers and birds. And they have physical culture exercises every morning and evening. Mrs. Lynde says she never heard of such goings-on and it all comes of having a lady teacher. But I think it must be splendid and I believe I shall find that Miss Stacy is a kindred spirit."

"There's one thing plain to be seen, Anne," said Marilla, "and that is that your fall off the Barry roof hasn't injured your tongue at all."