Monday, October 28, 2013

Between the Lines: Anne Shirley

This week, I'm particularly pleased to introduce a very special guest, Miss. Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables fame. So, let's get right to the interview.

Greg:  Welcome, Anne. I'm so glad you could come down from Prince Edward Island to join us.

Anne:  Thank you for having me, I'm sure. It is most exhilarating to be here.

Greg:  Yes, I'm sure. I gather that you had a very difficult early life. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Anne:  No more difficult than the next person, I shouldn't think. I was born in Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia, but my parents died of typhoid fever when I was only three months old, leaving me all alone in the world. My parents, Walter and Bertha Shirley were both schoolteachers, a source of great pride for me. I would like to follow in their footsteps, and have endeavored to do so.

I was taken in by our housekeeper, Mrs. Thomas. But when Mr. Thomas died, Mrs. Thomas sent me to the Hammonds, where I looked after their three sets of twins. I have ever been cursed by twins, you know. But when Mr. Hammond died--my, an awful lot of people that I know seemed to have died, come to think of it--Mrs. Hammond packed all the twins off to relatives and packed me off to an orphanage on Prince Edward Island.

I spent some bit of time at the orphanage, but was taken in by siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Unfortunately, and nearly tragically, there was a slight misunderstanding that nearly sent me back to the orphanage.

Greg:  Oh my, what was the problem?

Anne:  Well, Matthew and Marilla were under the impression that the orphanage was sending them a boy. You can imagine Matthew's surprise when he saw a freckle faced red haired girl waiting anxiously for him at the train station.

Matthew picked me up and brought me to their farm, Green Gables. I liked Matthew from the very start, and I believe he liked me. He was so kind and gentle spoken. A prince among men.

Marilla Cuthbert was made of sterner stuff. She frightened me. She was all about manners and religion and being proper, and she wanted no part of a girl on the farm. But oh, how I wanted to stay. Green Gables was just so perfect. I needed a knight in shining armor riding a white horse to come charging over the hill and save the day. And do you know what? My shining knight came.

Greg:  Really? Who was your shining knight?
Anne:  Why Matthew Cuthbert, of course. He talked Marilla into it, you see. Oh I said he was kind and gentle, didn't I? A true knight.

Greg:  Of course. So I gather Matthew convinced Marilla to allow you to stay. Were you able to make any friends in, what town was it?

Anne:  Avonlea, the most wonderful town that any child ever grew up in. It was hard making friends at first. It takes a while to find out if someone is a kindred spirit or not. It didn't take long to discover that Diana Berry was just such a kindred spirit, however. We became bosom friends almost immediately.

It took longer with others. That Gilbert Blythe for one. The first day of school he teased me and called me Carrots because of my red hair. Diana said he only did it because he liked me, but I swore that I would have nothing to do with Gilbert Blythe until my dying day. In that, I was somewhat mistaken, but that was revealed only a great deal later.

Greg:  Can you tell us a little bit about Marilla's friend, Rachel Lynde?

Anne:  Oh, Mrs. Lynde was a kindred spirit, although neither she nor I realized it for quite some time. When I first came to Avonlea, there was a misunderstanding between her and I that drove a wedge between us. She had a nose for gossip, but was never a malicious gossip like some.

Greg:  You mentioned earlier that you wanted to become a teacher, like your parents. Was there anyone that helped you on the path to your chosen profession?

Anne:  My teacher, Miss. Stacy, yet another kindred spirit, showed me that I had the ability to teach. When she first came to Avonlea, many of the townsfolk did not take to her straightaway. They thought her too lenient. Spare the rod and spoil the child was their motto.

Miss. Stacy thought it better to encourage her students. That is what she did with me. She was my mentor, and gave me the encouragement that I needed to reach for the stars. The star was Queens College. I owe her a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid.

Greg:  And we owe you a debt of gratitude as well, Anne, for taking the time to share some of your life with us.

Anne:  Will this be in the newspaper? Because I want to make sure you remember to spell my named with an e, Anne. The e makes it much more distinguished, don't you think?

Greg: Yes, I suppose it does. I don't know if this will be in the paper, but it will be on the Internet, which is just as good these days.

Anne:  Internet? I'm not familiar with the term. Is that a newspaper chain? I've heard of those. Hearst is very prominent. I've not heard of the Internet family. Are they American?

Greg:  Mmm, from all over, I believe.

Anne:  Isn't that wonderful! I'll look forward to reading about myself. I don't care what Marilla says about vanity, I do enjoy reading about myself!

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