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

MADAME RACHEL LYNDE EST PARFAITEMENT HORRIFIÉE.

ANNE vivait depuis quinze jours à Green Gables, Mme Lynde arriva pour l'inspecter. Mme Rachel, pour lui rendre justice, n'était pas à blâmer pour cela. Depuis l'occasion de sa dernière visite à Green Gables, une attaque de grippe sévère et hors saison avait confiné cette brave dame chez elle. Mme Rachel n'était pas souvent malade et méprisait clairement les personnes qui l'étaient ; mais la grippe, affirmait-elle, ne ressemblait à aucune autre maladie sur terre et ne saurait être interprétée que comme l'une des visites spéciales de la Providence. Dès que son médecin lui permit de mettre le pied hors de chez elle, elle se hâta vers Green Gables, brûlante de curiosité de voir l'orpheline de Matthew et de Marilla, qui faisait l'objet de toutes sortes d'histoires et de suppositions à Avonlea.
Pendant ces quinze jours Anne avait fait bon usage de chaque moment d'éveil . Elle connaissait déjà chaque arbre et arbuste du lieu. Elle avait découvert qu'un chemin débouchait derrière la pommeraie et remontait par une zone boisée ; et elle l'avait exploré jusqu'au bout avec ses adorables ruisseaux et ponts capricieux, ses sapinières et ses voutes de merisiers, ses recoins de fougères, ses enchevêtrements d'érables et de frênes montagnards.
Elle s'était liée d'amitié avec la source au fond du vallon ... cette source étonnamment profonde, limpide et glacée ; elle s'écoulait sur de grès lisses et rouges, bordée de fougères aquatiques ; et plus loin un pont de rondins enjambait le ruisseau.
Ce pont conduisit les pieds sautillants d'Anne de l'autre côté au sommet d'une colline boisée, où régnait une pénombre perpétuelle sous les rangées de sapins et d'épicéas droits et denses ; les seules fleurs qu'on y trouvait étaient des myriades de délicates « campanules », ces fleurs des sous-bois les plus timides et les plus douces, et quelques ornithogales pâles et aériennes, comme les réminiscences des bourgeons de l'année dernière. Des toiles d'araignées scintillaient comme des fils d'argent au milieu des branches de sapin et les glands semblaient envoyer des messages d'amitié.
Tous ces ravissements de découvertes avaient lieu au cours des quelques demi heures qu'elle s'accordait pour jouer, et Anne en parlait à Matthew et Marilla peu ouverts à ses découvertes. Assurément, Matthew ne s'en plaignait pas ; il écoutait le tout avec un sourire de joie béat sur son visage ; Marilla autorisait le "babillage" jusqu'à ce qu'elle s'aperçoive, elle-même, y accorder trop d'intérêt, sur quoi elle interrompait toujours promptement Anne par un ordre bref de tenir sa langue.
Anne était dehors dans le verger quand Mme Rachel arriva, musardant à sa guise à travers les herbes luxuriantes et ondulantes baignées par le soleil rougeoyant de fin d'après-midi ; ainsi la bonne dame eut une excellente occasion de parler sans réserve de sa maladie, décrivant chaque douleur ou chaque battement de pouls avec une telle jouissance que Marilla pensa que même la grippe devait apporter ses avantages. Quand les détails furent épuisés, Mme Rachel fit part de la véritable raison de sa venue.
— J'ai entendu des rumeurs étonnantes à propos de vous et Matthew.
— Je ne crois pas que vous soyez plus stupéfaite que je ne le suis moi-même, dit Marilla. — Je me remets juste de ma surprise.
— C'était trop grave, c'était une telle erreur, dit madame Rachel avec sympathie. N'auriez-vous pas pu la renvoyer ?
— Je pense qu'on aurait pu, mais nous avons décidé de ne pas le faire. Mathew s'était entiché d'elle. Et je dois dire que je l'aime bien moi aussi ... bien que j'admette qu'elle a ses défauts. La maison parait déja différente. C' est une petite chose de vraiment lumineux.
Marilla en avait dit plus qu'elle n'en aurait voulu dire quand elle avait commencé, car elle lisait la désapprobation sur le visage de Mme Rachel.
— C'est une grosse responsabilité que vous avez prise sur vous, dit cette femme sévèrement, particulièrement en n'ayant aucune expérience des enfants. Vous n'en savez pas plus sur ses prédispositions véritables, je suppose, et on n'a aucune idée de comment peut tourner une enfant comme celle là. Mais, Marilla, je ne veux à coup sûr pas vous décourager.
— Je ne me décourage pas. répondit Marilla. Quand je me mets en tête de faire quelque chose, je m'y tiens. Je suppose que vous vouliez voir Anne. Je vais l'appeler.
Anne arriva tout de suite en courant, le visage illuminé du bonheur de son vagabondage au verger ; mais, embarrassée de se trouver en présence d'une étrangère, elle s'arrêta, confuse sur le pas de la porte. C'était certainement une drôle de petite créature dans la petite robe de serge étriquée qu'elle avait portée à l'orphelinat, sous laquelle ses jambes maigres paraissaient trop longues et sans grâce. Ses taches de rousseur étaient plus nombreuses et plus visibles que jamais ; le vent avait ébouriffé sa chevelure en un désordre particulièrement brillant ; elle n'avait jamais paru aussi rousse qu'à ce moment.
— Eh bien, vous ne l'avez pas choisie pour sa beauté, c'est sûr et certain, fut le commentaire emphatique de Mme. Rachel Lynde. Mme Rachel était de ces personnes qui se flattent de donner leur avis sans crainte ni retenue. Elle est terriblement maigrichonne et au physique ingrat, Marilla. — Viens là, petite, et laisse-moi te regarder. Mon Dieu, a-t-on jamais vu de telles taches de rousseur ? Et une chevelure rouge carotte ! Viens là, petite, te dis-je.
Anne " vint là " mais pas de la façon que Mme Rachel avait souhaité. Elle traversa d'un seul bond la cuisine, et se planta devant Mrs. Rachel, le visage rouge de colère, les lèvres tremblantes, toute sa frêle silhouette tremblant de la tête aux pieds.
— Je vous déteste, cria-t-elle d'une voix étranglée, en tapant du pied sur le plancher. Je vous déteste, je vous déteste, je vous déteste, scanda-t-elle, chaque nouvelle affirmation de haine lancée un ton plus haut que la précédente. Comment osez-vous me traiter de maigrichonne et de laideron ? Comment osez-vous dire que je suis grêlée et que j'ai les cheveux carotte ? Vous êtes une femme grossière, impolie et insensible !
— Anne ! s'exclama Marilla consternée.
Mais Anne, aucunement intimidée, continuait à faire face à Mme Rachel, la tête haute, les yeux flamboyants, les poings serrés, une véhémente indignation exhalant de sa petite personne comme une aura éthérée.
— Comment osez-vous dire de telles choses de moi ? répéta-t-elle avec véhémence. Comment tolèreriez-vous que de telles choses soient dites à votre sujet ? Comment tolèreriez-vous qu'on vous dise que vous êtes grosse et maladroite et que vous n'avez probablement pas une étincelle d'imagination en vous ? Je m'en moque pas mal si je blesse vos sentiments en disant cela ! J'espère que je les blesse. Vous avez blessé les miens plus qu'ils ne l'avaient jamais été auparavant, même pas par cet ivrogne de mari de Mme Thomas. Et je ne vous le pardonnerai jamais, jamais, jamais !
TAP ! Tap !
— Est-ce que quelqu'un a jamais vu un tel mauvais caractère ! s'exclama Mme Rachel, horrifiée.
— Anne, va dans ta chambre et restes-y jusqu'à ce que je vienne, dit Marilla, recouvrant difficilement l'usage de la parole.
Anne, en sanglots, se précipita à la porte d'entrée, la claqua au point que les ustensiles sur le mur du hall d'entrée cliquetèrent par sympathie, et elle fila dans le couloir et monta l'escalier comme une tornade. Un claquement sourd venant du dessus prouvait qu'elle avait fermé la porte du pignon est avec la même rage.
— Eh bien, Marilla, je ne vous envie pas d'avoir à élever « ça », siffla Mme Rachel avec un exécrable dédain.
Marilla ouvrit la bouche pour dire qu'elle ignorait comment présenter ses excuses et faire part de sa désapprobation. Mais ce qu'elle dit effectivement la surprit sur le moment et même encore par la suite.
— Vous n'auriez pas dû dégoiser au sujet de son apparence, Rachel.
— Marilla Cuthbert, vous n'êtes pas en train d'insinuer que vous la soutenez dans cette horrible manifestation de colère à laquelle nous venons d'assister. demanda Mme Rachel, indignée.
Non, "dit Marina doucement," je n'essaie pas de l’excuser. Elle a été très vilaine et je vais devoir lui faire la leçon à ce sujet. Mais nous devons faire preuve de tolérance à son égard. On ne lui a jamais appris ce qui était bien. Et vous avez été trop dure envers elle, Rachel.
Marilla n'avait pu s'empêcher de rajouter cette dernière phrase, bien qu'elle se soit elle-même étonnée de l'avoir fait. Mme Rachel se leva en affichant un air de dignité offensée.
— Eh bien, je vois que je devrai faire très attention à ce que je dis après cela, Marilla, puisque les sentiments délicats des orphelins, amenés de Dieu sait où, doivent être considérés avant toute autre chose. Oh, non, je ne suis pas vexée... ne vous inquiétez pas. Je suis bien trop désolée pour vous pour laisser place à ma colère. Vous aurez vos propres problèmes avec cette enfant. Mais si vous suivez mon conseil — et je suppose que vous ne le ferez pas, bien que j'aie élevé dix enfants et en aie enterré deux — vous devriez «la réprimander », comme vous dites, avec une baguette de bouleau de taille raisonnable. Je veux croire que c'est le langage le plus efficace pour ce type d'enfant. Son caractère correspond à ses cheveux, je suppose. Bon, bonne soirée, Marilla. J'espère que vous me rendrez visite aussi souvent que d'habitude. Mais ne vous attendez pas à ce que je vous rende visite de sitôt, si je risque d'être agressée et insultée de la sorte. C'est quelque chose de nouveau dans mon expérience.
Sur ce, Mme Rachel sortit d'une démarche altière... si l'on peut qualifier d'altière la démarche d'une grosse femme qui se dandinait d'habitude... et Marilla, la mine sévère, s'en alla vers le pignon est.
En montant les escaliers, elle se demandait avec inquiétude ce qu'elle devait faire. Elle ne ressentait aucune consternation à l'égard de la scène qui venait de se dérouler. Quel malheur qu'Anne ait fait montre d'un tel caractère face à Mme Rachel Lynde, surtout devant elle ! Marilla prit alors désagréablement conscience qu'elle ressentait plus d'humiliation pour l'incident que de chagrin pour la découverte d'un écart aussi sérieux dans la conduite d'Anne. Et comment allait elle la punir ? L'aimable suggestion de la baguette de bouleau — dont chacun des enfants de Mme Rachel avait pu tâter la cuisante efficacité — ne convenait pas à Marilla. Elle ne se sentait pas capable de fouetter un enfant. Non, il fallait trouver une autre sorte de punition pour amener Anne à prendre conscience de l'énormité de son acte.
Marilla trouva Anne, à plat-ventre sur son lit, pleurant de désespoir, oubliant complètement ses bottes pleines de boue sur le couvre-lit propre.
— Anne, dit elle sans animosité.
Pas de réponse.
Anne, reprit-elle d'un ton plus sévère, sors de ce lit tout de suite et écoute ce que j'ai à te dire.
Anne se tortilla hors du lit et s'assit, raide sur une chaise à côté, la figure boursoufflée, souillée de larmes, et les yeux obstinément fixés au sol.
C'est une belle façon que tu as de te comporter, Anne ! N'as-tu pas honte de toi ?
— Elle n'avait pas le droit de me traiter de laideron et de rouquine, rétorqua Anne, de façon évasive et sur la défensive.
— Tu n'avais pas le droit de te mettre dans une telle fureur et de lui parler de la façon dont tu l'as fait, Anne. J'avais honte de toi ... vraiment honte de toi. Je voulais que tu te tiennes correctement devant Mme Lynde, et au lieu de cela, tu m'as fait honte. Vraiment je ne comprends pas que tu puisses perdre ton sang-froid comme ça juste parce que Mme Lynde a dit que tu étais rouquine et physiquement un peu ingrate. Tu le dis toi-même assez souvent.
— Oh, mais c'est tellement différent de dire quelque chose soi-même et d'entendre quelqu'un d'autre le dire, hurla Anne. On peut savoir que c'est comme ça, mais on ne peut s'empêcher d'espérer que les autres ne le pensent pas vraiment. Je suppose que vous pensez que j'ai un caractère horrible, mais je ne peux pas le changer. Quand elle m'a dit ces choses, quelque chose est brusquement monté en moi et m'a suffoquée. J'ai dû lui voler dans les plumes.
— Eh bien, je dois avouer que tu as donné une belle image de toi. Mme Lynde va avoir de belles choses à raconter partout sur toi ... et elle ne va pas s'en priver. C'était horrible de ta part d'avoir ainsi perdu ton sang-froid.
Imagine seulement ce que tu ressentirais si on te disait que tu étais maigrichonne et très laide, plaida Anne en larmes.
Un vieux souvenir remonta soudain à la surface chez Marilla. Toute petite, elle avait entendu une de ses tantes dire à une autre à propos d'elle : — Quel dommage que ce soit une petite gamine si brune et si laide. Ce n'est que vers la cinquantaine que cette blessure s'estompa dans la mémoire de Marillla.
— Je ne pense pas que Mme Lynde ait eu vraiment raison de dire ce qu'elle t'a dit, Anne, admit-elle sur un ton plus doux. Rachel est trop directe. Mais cela n'excuse pas un tel comportement de ta part. C'était une personne âgée, étrangère à la famille, et mon invitée... trois excellentes raisons pour lesquelles tu aurais dû lui montrer du respect. Tu as été grossière et effrontée et ... Marilla eut soudain une idée salvatrice de punition ... — tu dois aller la voir et lui dire que tu es vraiment désolée de ton mauvais caractère et demande lui de bien vouloir te pardonner.
— Je ne pourrai jamais faire ça, dit Anne avec détermination et l'air sombre. — Vous pouvez me punir comme bon vous semble, Marilla. Vous pouvez me faire taire dans l'obscurité d'un cachot humide peuplé de serpents et de crapauds, et me nourrir seulement de pain et d'eau, je ne me plaindrai pas. Mais je ne peux pas demander à Mme Lynde de bien vouloir me pardonner.
— Ce n'est pas l'usage d'enfermer les gens dans le noir, dans des cachots humides, dit sèchement Marilla, d'abord parce qu'ils sont plutôt rares en Avonlea. Mais vous devez et vous allez présenter vos excuses à Mme Lynde et vous resterez ici dans votre chambre jusqu'à ce que vous me disiez que vous êtes d'accord pour le faire.
— Il faudra donc que je reste ici pour toujours, dit Anne d'un ton lugubre, car il m'est impossible de dire à Mme Lynde que je regrette ce que je lui ai dit. Comment le pourrais-je? Je ne regrette rien. Je suis désolée de vous avoir contrariée, mais je suis contente de lui avoir dit ce que je lui ai dit. Ce fut une immense satisfaction. Je ne peux pas dire que je regrette alors que je ne regrette rien, non? Je n'arrive même pas à imaginer que je regrette.
— Peut-être votre imagination fonctionnera-t-elle mieux demain matin, dit Marilla, en se levant pour partir. Vous aurez toute la nuit pour réfléchir à votre comportement et revenir à de meilleures dispositions. Vous avez dit que vous essaieriez d'être une très gentille fille si nous vous gardions à Green Gables, mais je dois convenir que ce n'est pas ce qu'il m'a semblé ce soir.
Laissant cette flèche du Parthe pénétrer douloureusement dans le cœur tourmenté d'Anne, Marilla descendit à la cuisine, l'esprit terriblement troublé et l'âme contrariée. Elle était autant en colère contre elle-même qu'elle l'était contre Anne car, à chaque fois qu'elle se remémorait l'expression abasourdie de Mme Rachel, ses lèvres frémissaient d'amusement et elle ressentait une envie irrépressible de rire.
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CHAPTER IX.
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MRS. RACHEL LYNDE IS PROPERLY HORRIFIED.
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ANNE had been a fortnight at Green Gables before Mrs, Lynde arrived to inspect her.
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Mrs. Rachel, to do her justice, was not to blame for this.
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Anne had made good use of every waking moment of that fortnight.
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Already she was acquainted with every tree and shrub about the place.
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When details were exhausted Mrs. Rachel introduced the real reason of her call.
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"I've been hearing some surprising things about you and Matthew."
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"I don't suppose you are any more surprised than I am myself," said Marilla.
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"I'm getting over my surprise now."
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"It was too bad there was such a mistake," said Mrs. Rachel sympathetically.
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"Couldn't you have sent her back?"
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"I suppose we could, but we decided not to.
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Matthew took a fancy to her.
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And I must say I like her myself—although I admit she has her faults.
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The house seems a different place already.
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She's a real bright little thing."
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But I don't want to discourage you I'm sure, Marilla."
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"I'm not feeling discouraged," was Marilla's dry response.
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"When I make up my mind to do a thing it stays made up.
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I suppose you'd like to see Anne.
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I'll call her in."
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"She's terrible skinny and homely, Marilla.
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Come here, child, and let me have a look at you.
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Lawful heart, did any one ever see such freckles?
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And hair as red as carrots!
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Come here, child, I say."
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Anne "came there," but not exactly as Mrs. Rachel expected.
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"I hate you," she cried in a choked voice, stamping her foot on the floor.
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"I hate you—I hate you—I hate you—" a louder stamp with each assertion of hatred.
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"How dare you call me skinny and ugly?
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How dare you say I'm freckled and red-headed?
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You are a rude, impolite, unfeeling woman!"
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"Anne!"
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exclaimed Marilla in consternation.
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"How dare you say such things about me?"
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she repeated vehemently.
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"How would you like to have such things said about you?
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I don't care if I do hurt your feelings by saying so!
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I hope I hurt them.
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You have hurt mine worse than they were ever hurt before even by Mrs. Thomas' intoxicated husband.
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And I'll never forgive you for it, never, never!"
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Stamp!
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Stamp!
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"Did anybody ever see such a temper!"
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exclaimed the horrified Mrs. Rachel.
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A subdued slam above told that the door of the east gable had been shut with equal vehemence.
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Marilla opened her lips to say she knew not what of apology or deprecation.
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What she did say was a surprise to herself then and ever afterwards.
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"You shouldn't have twitted her about her looks, Rachel."
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demanded Mrs. Rachel indignantly.
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"No," said Marilla slowly, "I'm not trying to excuse her.
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She's been very naughty and I'll have to give her a talking to about it.
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But we must make allowances for her.
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She's never been taught what is right.
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And you were too hard on her, Rachel."
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Mrs. Rachel got up with an air of offended dignity.
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Oh, no, I'm not vexed—don't worry yourself.
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I'm too sorry for you to leave any room for anger in my mind.
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You'll have your own troubles with that child.
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I should think that would be the most effective language for that kind of a child.
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Her temper matches her hair I guess.
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Well, good evening, Marilla.
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I hope you'll come down to see me often as usual.
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It's something new in my experience."
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On the way up-stairs she pondered uneasily as to what she ought to do.
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She felt no little dismay over the scene that had just been enacted.
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How unfortunate that Anne should have displayed such temper before Mrs. Rachel Lynde, of all people!
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And how was she to punish her?
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She did not believe she could whip a child.
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"Anne," she said, not ungently.
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No answer.
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"This is a nice way for you to behave, Anne!
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Aren't you ashamed of yourself?"
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"She hadn't any right to call me ugly and red-headed," retorted Anne, evasive and defiant.
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"You hadn't any right to fly into such a fury and talk the way you did to her, Anne.
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I was ashamed of you—thoroughly ashamed of you.
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I wanted you to behave nicely to Mrs. Lynde, and instead of that you have disgraced me.
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You say it yourself often enough."
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"You may know a thing is so, but you can't help hoping other people don't quite think it is.
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unit 119
I suppose you think I have an awful temper, but I couldn't help it.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 120
When she said those things something just rose right up in me and choked me.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 121
I had to fly out at her."
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 122
"Well, you made a fine exhibition of yourself I must say.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 123
Mrs. Lynde will have a nice story to tell about you everywhere—and she'll tell it, too.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 124
It was a dreadful thing for you to lose your temper like that, Anne."
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 126
An old remembrance suddenly rose up before Marilla.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 128
Marilla was every day of fifty before the sting had gone out of that memory.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 130
"Rachel is too outspoken.
2 Translations, 5 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 131
But that is no excuse for such behaviour on your part.
2 Translations, 7 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 134
"I can never do that," said Anne determinedly and darkly.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 135
"You can punish me in any way you like, Marilla.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 137
But I cannot ask Mrs. Lynde to forgive me."
2 Translations, 6 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 141
How can I?
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 142
I'm not sorry.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 143
I'm sorry I've vexed you; but I'm glad I told her just what I did.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 144
It was a great satisfaction.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 145
I can't say I'm sorry when I'm not, can I?
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 146
I can't even imagine I'm sorry."
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
unit 147
unit 148
"You'll have the night to think over your conduct in and come to a better frame of mind.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 10 months, 1 week ago
gaelle044 • 5134  commented  10 months ago
GCHOTEAU • 2259  translated  unit 150  10 months, 1 week ago
francevw • 14085  commented on  unit 121  10 months, 1 week ago
tontonjl • 10871  commented on  unit 112  10 months, 1 week ago
Oplusse • 13924  commented on  unit 118  10 months, 1 week ago
tontonjl • 10871  commented on  unit 101  10 months, 1 week ago
Oplusse • 13924  commented on  unit 112  10 months, 1 week ago
tontonjl • 10871  commented on  unit 13  10 months, 2 weeks ago
Oplusse • 13924  translated  unit 65  10 months, 2 weeks ago
Oplusse • 13924  translated  unit 64  10 months, 2 weeks ago
Oplusse • 13924  translated  unit 53  10 months, 2 weeks ago
CommeuneTexane • 1653  commented on  unit 151  10 months, 2 weeks ago
Oplusse • 13924  commented on  unit 7  10 months, 2 weeks ago
Oplusse • 13924  commented on  unit 7  10 months, 2 weeks ago
francevw • 14085  translated  unit 1  10 months, 2 weeks ago
francevw • 14085  commented  10 months, 2 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 she will say "tu" to Marilla and Matthew, and the formal form with everybody else but her classmates.
2. She likes overstatements and superlatives.
3. We ought to translate "green gables" by "les pignons verts" as it is done in the movie.

by gaelle044 10 months 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 francevw 10 months, 2 weeks ago

CHAPTER IX.

MRS. RACHEL LYNDE IS PROPERLY HORRIFIED.

ANNE had been a fortnight at Green Gables before Mrs, Lynde arrived to inspect her. Mrs. Rachel, to do her justice, was not to blame for this. A severe and unseasonable attack of grippe had confined that good lady to her house ever since the occasion of her last visit to Green Gables. Mrs. Rachel was not often sick and had a well-defined contempt for people who were; but grippe, she asserted, was like no other illness on earth and could only be interpreted as one of the special visitations of Providence. As soon as her doctor allowed her to put her foot out-of-doors she hurried up to Green Gables, bursting with curiosity to see Matthew's and Marilla's orphan, concerning whom all sorts of stories and suppositions had gone abroad in Avonlea.
Anne had made good use of every waking moment of that fortnight. Already she was acquainted with every tree and shrub about the place. She had discovered that a lane opened out below the apple orchard and ran up through a belt of woodland; and she had explored it to its furthest end in all its delicious vagaries of brook and bridge, fir coppice and wild cherry arch, corners thick with fern, and branching byways of maple and mountain ash.
She had made friends with the spring down in the hollow—that wonderful deep, clear icy-cold spring; it was set about with smooth red sandstones and rimmed in by great palm-like clumps of water fern; and beyond it was a log bridge over the brook.
That bridge led Anne's dancing feet up over a wooded hill beyond, where perpetual twilight reigned under the straight, thick-growing firs and spruces; the only flowers there were myriads of delicate "June bells," those shyest and sweetest of woodland blooms, and a few pale, aerial starflowers, like the spirits of last year's blossoms. Gossamers glimmered like threads of silver among the trees and the fir boughs and tassels seemed to utter friendly speech.
All these raptured voyages of exploration were made in the odd half-hours which she was allowed for play, and Anne talked Matthew and Marilla half-deaf over her discoveries. Not that Matthew complained, to be sure; he listened to it all with a wordless smile of enjoyment on his face; Marilla permitted the "chatter" until she found herself becoming too interested in it, whereupon she always promptly quenched Anne by a curt command to hold her tongue.
Anne was out in the orchard when Mrs. Rachel came, wandering at her own sweet will through the lush, tremulous grasses splashed with ruddy evening sunshine; so that good lady had an excellent chance to talk her illness fully over, describing every ache and pulse-beat with such evident enjoyment that Marilla thought even grippe must bring its compensations. When details were exhausted Mrs. Rachel introduced the real reason of her call.
"I've been hearing some surprising things about you and Matthew."
"I don't suppose you are any more surprised than I am myself," said Marilla. "I'm getting over my surprise now."
"It was too bad there was such a mistake," said Mrs. Rachel sympathetically. "Couldn't you have sent her back?"
"I suppose we could, but we decided not to. Matthew took a fancy to her. And I must say I like her myself—although I admit she has her faults. The house seems a different place already. She's a real bright little thing."
Marilla said more than she had intended to say when she began, for she read disapproval in Mrs. Rachel's expression.
"It's a great responsibility you've taken on yourself," said that lady gloomily, "especially when you've never had any experience with children. You don't know much about her or her real disposition, I suppose, and there's no guessing how a child like that will turn out. But I don't want to discourage you I'm sure, Marilla."
"I'm not feeling discouraged," was Marilla's dry response. "When I make up my mind to do a thing it stays made up. I suppose you'd like to see Anne. I'll call her in."
Anne came running in presently, her face sparkling with the delight of her orchard rovings; but, abashed at finding herself in the unexpected presence of a stranger, she halted confusedly inside the door. She certainly was an odd-looking little creature in the short tight wincey dress she had worn from the asylum, below which her thin legs seemed ungracefully long. Her freckles were more numerous and obtrusive than ever; the wind had ruffled her hatless hair into over-brilliant disorder; it had never looked redder than at that moment.
"Well, they didn't pick you for your looks, that's sure and certain," was Mrs. Rachel Lynde's emphatic comment. Mrs. Rachel was one of those delightful and popular people who pride themselves on speaking their mind without fear or favour. "She's terrible skinny and homely, Marilla. Come here, child, and let me have a look at you. Lawful heart, did any one ever see such freckles? And hair as red as carrots! Come here, child, I say."
Anne "came there," but not exactly as Mrs. Rachel expected. With one bound she crossed the kitchen floor and stood before Mrs. Rachel, her face scarlet with anger, her lips quivering, and her whole slender form trembling from head to foot.
"I hate you," she cried in a choked voice, stamping her foot on the floor. "I hate you—I hate you—I hate you—" a louder stamp with each assertion of hatred. "How dare you call me skinny and ugly? How dare you say I'm freckled and red-headed? You are a rude, impolite, unfeeling woman!"
"Anne!" exclaimed Marilla in consternation.
But Anne continued to face Mrs. Rachel undauntedly, head up, eyes blazing, hands clenched, passionate indignation exhaling from her like an atmosphere.
"How dare you say such things about me?" she repeated vehemently. "How would you like to have such things said about you? How would you like to be told that you are fat and clumsy and probably hadn't a spark of imagination in you? I don't care if I do hurt your feelings by saying so! I hope I hurt them. You have hurt mine worse than they were ever hurt before even by Mrs. Thomas' intoxicated husband. And I'll never forgive you for it, never, never!"
Stamp! Stamp!
"Did anybody ever see such a temper!" exclaimed the horrified Mrs. Rachel.
"Anne, go to your room and stay there until I come up," said Marilla, recovering her powers of speech with difficulty.
Anne, bursting into tears, rushed to the hall door, slammed it until the tins on the porch wall outside rattled in sympathy, and fled through the hall and up the stairs like a whirlwind. A subdued slam above told that the door of the east gable had been shut with equal vehemence.
"Well, I don't envy you your job bringing that up, Marilla," said Mrs. Rachel with unspeakable solemnity.
Marilla opened her lips to say she knew not what of apology or deprecation. What she did say was a surprise to herself then and ever afterwards.
"You shouldn't have twitted her about her looks, Rachel."
"Marilla Cuthbert, you don't mean to say that you are upholding her in such a terrible display of temper as we've just seen?" demanded Mrs. Rachel indignantly.
"No," said Marilla slowly, "I'm not trying to excuse her. She's been very naughty and I'll have to give her a talking to about it. But we must make allowances for her. She's never been taught what is right. And you were too hard on her, Rachel."
Marilla could not help tacking on that last sentence, although she was again surprised at herself for doing it. Mrs. Rachel got up with an air of offended dignity.
"Well, I see that I'll have to be very careful what I say after this, Marilla, since the fine feelings of orphans, brought from goodness knows where, have to be considered before anything else. Oh, no, I'm not vexed—don't worry yourself. I'm too sorry for you to leave any room for anger in my mind. You'll have your own troubles with that child. But if you'll take my advice—which I suppose you won't do, although I've brought up ten children and buried two—you'll do that 'talking to' you mention with a fair-sized birch switch. I should think that would be the most effective language for that kind of a child. Her temper matches her hair I guess. Well, good evening, Marilla. I hope you'll come down to see me often as usual. But you can't expect me to visit here again in a hurry, if I'm liable to be flown at and insulted in such a fashion. It's something new in my experience."
Whereat Mrs. Rachel swept out and away—if a fat woman who always waddled could be said to sweep away—and Marilla with a very solemn face betook herself to the east gable.
On the way up-stairs she pondered uneasily as to what she ought to do. She felt no little dismay over the scene that had just been enacted. How unfortunate that Anne should have displayed such temper before Mrs. Rachel Lynde, of all people! Then Marilla suddenly became aware of an uncomfortable and rebuking consciousness that she felt more humiliation over this than sorrow over the discovery of such a serious defect in Anne's disposition. And how was she to punish her? The amiable suggestion of the birch switch—to the efficiency of which all of Mrs. Rachel's own children could have borne smarting testimony—did not appeal to Marilla. She did not believe she could whip a child. No, some other method of punishment must be found to bring Anne to a proper realization of the enormity of her offence.
Marilla found Anne face downward on her bed, crying bitterly, quite oblivious of muddy boots on a clean counterpane.
"Anne," she said, not ungently.
No answer.
"Anne," with greater severity, "get off that bed this minute and listen to what I have to say to you."
Anne squirmed off the bed and sat rigidly on a chair beside it, her face swollen and tear-stained and her eyes fixed stubbornly on the floor.
"This is a nice way for you to behave, Anne! Aren't you ashamed of yourself?"
"She hadn't any right to call me ugly and red-headed," retorted Anne, evasive and defiant.
"You hadn't any right to fly into such a fury and talk the way you did to her, Anne. I was ashamed of you—thoroughly ashamed of you. I wanted you to behave nicely to Mrs. Lynde, and instead of that you have disgraced me. I'm sure I don't know why you should lose your temper like that just because Mrs. Lynde said you were red-haired and homely. You say it yourself often enough."
"Oh, but there's such a difference between saying a thing yourself and hearing other people say it," wailed Anne. "You may know a thing is so, but you can't help hoping other people don't quite think it is. I suppose you think I have an awful temper, but I couldn't help it. When she said those things something just rose right up in me and choked me. I had to fly out at her."
"Well, you made a fine exhibition of yourself I must say. Mrs. Lynde will have a nice story to tell about you everywhere—and she'll tell it, too. It was a dreadful thing for you to lose your temper like that, Anne."
"Just imagine how you would feel if somebody told you to your face that you were skinny and ugly," pleaded Anne tearfully.
An old remembrance suddenly rose up before Marilla. She had been a very small child when she had heard one aunt say of her to another, "What a pity she is such a dark, homely little thing." Marilla was every day of fifty before the sting had gone out of that memory.
"I don't say that I think Mrs. Lynde was exactly right in saying what she did to you, Anne," she admitted in a softer tone. "Rachel is too outspoken. But that is no excuse for such behaviour on your part. She was a stranger and an elderly person and my visitor—all three very good reasons why you should have been respectful to her. You were rude and saucy and"—Marilla had a saving inspiration of punishment—"you must go to her and tell her you are very sorry for your bad temper and ask her to forgive you."
"I can never do that," said Anne determinedly and darkly. "You can punish me in any way you like, Marilla. You can shut me up in a dark, damp dungeon inhabited by snakes and toads and feed me only on bread and water and I shall not complain. But I cannot ask Mrs. Lynde to forgive me."
"We're not in the habit of shutting people up in dark, damp dungeons," said Marilla drily, "especially as they're rather scarce in Avonlea. But apologize to Mrs. Lynde you must and shall and you'll stay here in your room until you can tell me you're willing to do it."
"I shall have to stay here for ever then," said Anne mournfully, "because I can't tell Mrs. Lynde I'm sorry I said those things to her. How can I? I'm not sorry. I'm sorry I've vexed you; but I'm glad I told her just what I did. It was a great satisfaction. I can't say I'm sorry when I'm not, can I? I can't even imagine I'm sorry."
"Perhaps your imagination will be in better working order by the morning," said Marilla, rising to depart. "You'll have the night to think over your conduct in and come to a better frame of mind. You said you would try to be a very good girl if we kept you at Green Gables, but I must say it hasn't seemed very much like it this evening."
Leaving this Parthian shaft to rankle in Anne's stormy bosom, Marilla descended to the kitchen, grievously troubled in mind and vexed in soul. She was as angry with herself as with Anne, because, whenever she recalled Mrs. Rachel's dumfounded countenance her lips twitched with amusement and she felt a most reprehensible desire to laugh.