Marilla Cuthbert is surprised

"Matthew Cuthbert, who's that?" She ejaculated. "Where is the boy?"

"There wasn't any boy," said Matthew wretchedly. "There was only her."

"You don't want me!" Anne cried. "You don't want me because I'm not a boy!" I might have known it was all too beautiful to last. I might have known nobody really did want me. Oh what shall I do?"

After dinner, which she had been too upset to eat, they sent her to bed. Marilla came back downstairs to discuss the situation with Matthew.

"Well now Marilla, we could keep her and get a boy as well."

Marilla looked at him quizzically. "I suppose so."

"We have enough room and plenty of food. A boy could help me on the farm and Anne could keep you company. Now that she's here, I can't bear to send her back. I couldn't be so heartless. She's a real interesting little thing."

"What good would she be to us?"

"We might be some good to her."

"Matthew Cuthbert I believe that girl has bewitched you, but what you propose has merit. We could ask her about a good boy to adopt as well."

Over breakfast they quizzed Anne. "If we kept you, we might adopt a boy as well, as Matthew still needs help with the farm work. Were there any suitable boys at the asylum?"

"There was an abundance of them."

"Can you recommend any?"

"Can I think about it for a bit, it's a matter of much solemnity."

Anne considered; it had to be a boy of the right age, and someone she liked, as they would be raised as brother and sister. She went outside to think it over.

There were four possibilities as she saw it: Joe Franklin was nice enough. He was strong, polite, not too saucy and intelligent. Then there was Jack Wilson, she liked him too, but perhaps he was too cheeky and Miss Cuthbert might not like it if he talked back to her. Robert Murphy was a good boy, but maybe too young at nine. Then there was Thomas Martin he was another good candidate, he was intelligent, handsome and not afraid of work.

She weighed the pros and cons of each boy, if she got it wrong they might both get turned out. Eventually she had it narrowed down to two boys, she went inside to discuss her choices with Mr and Miss Cuthbert.

"There are two good choices", she said frankly, "they are the right age, about 11 or 12, they are nice boys. I like them both."

"Well that's hardly a consideration for us" retorted Marilla.

"Well I have to live with them for the rest of my life Miss Cuthbert, I think whether I like them should be a consideration."

"She has a point Marilla."

"So who are your choices?"

"Thomas Martin and Joe Franklin, they are both nice boys, I would think they would benefit from living here with us, they are pretty strong and good workers."

"Well we can only take one, which is it to be?"

"Miss Cuthbert they are just names to you, but they are people to me, it's too hard for me to make that decision. Can you just pick one name and go with that?"

"All right Joe Franklin it is. Matthew I'll write to the matron and ask her to send this boy to us."

The Matron of the Hope Asylum was startled the following week to receive this letter:

Mrs Black

We were surprised last week to receive a girl, Anne Shirley, from your establishment. Our message got garbled, as we in fact wanted a boy. However the mistake was made and we have decided to keep Anne. However, we still require a boy to help my brother with the farm work. We asked Anne to provide the name of a boy to send to us and she supplied two, namely Joe Franklin and Thomas Martin. We would like you to send Joe Franklin over to us by train. In the unlikely event that he has already been adopted we will take Thomas Martin instead.

Marilla Cuthbert (Miss)

Mrs Black sent word out across the grounds for Joe Franklin to come to her office at once.

"Joe, something amazing has happened. As you recall Anne Shirley was adopted recently, apparently her guardians in fact wanted a boy and they have requested that you be sent to them. What do you think?"

Joe sank to the floor, in a stupor. "They want to adopt me?"

"Yes they asked for you by name, I can only assume Anne suggested you. You owe her a debt of gratitude for this favour, as it is a marvellous opportunity you have been granted. I will make the necessary arrangements. It's quite out of the way, where they live."

A week later Matthew and Anne drove to the station again, this time to pick up a boy. As expected he was waiting for them on the platform. He had been put on the train on his own and was told where to alight.

Anne ran down the station platform and hugged him tight. "Oh Joe, I am so happy to have you here with me. I think it's all going to work out fine. Mr and Miss Cuthbert are the nicest people, I'll tell you all about them. Here's Mr Cuthbert to take us home" she blurted out in a rush. "Mr Cuthbert, this is Joe."

"Well good afternoon Joe, nice to meet you." Matthew said kindly.

"Good afternoon to you, Mr Cuthbert. Thank you for agreeing to take me on."

"Come this way, the buggy is just along here, shall I take your bag?"

"No it's fine, Mr Cuthbert, I can manage."

Joe looked around at all the greenery in somewhat of a daze, Anne bubbled along next to him, very happy with the way her life was panning out.

"I'll point out all the sights along the way Joe. This is such a beautiful part of the world. Isn't it Mr Cuthbert?"

Mr Cuthbert seemed to be a man of few words as he just smiled and nodded. Joe rather wished Anne would be quiet for just a moment; he needed time to process all the life around him.

Anne pointed out The White Way of Delight, an avenue of blossoming apple trees and The Lake of Shining Waters, just a pond as far as Joe could see. She did have a romantic way about her. He'd never seen her quite like this, but then there wasn't much to be excited about at the asylum. Joe for his part was mostly silent. There was too much space; he didn't feel quite comfortable out in it. He was glad he had the buggy and the comforting, quiet presence of Mr Cuthbert. He thought he might like working for this man.

Eventually Mr Cuthbert drew the buggy to a stop and pointed out down the hill to a pretty house with green gables nestled in a valley. "That's home, that's Green Gables."

"Isn't it perfectly splendid Joe? Have you ever seen anything as beautiful? That's our home."

It did look beautiful Joe had to agree. In fact he'd never heard of any description of heaven being better than this. He gulped a bit and felt tears come to his eyes. He wiped them away roughly before anyone noticed.

Anne jumped down and opened the gate for them and the horses trotted into the yard. Joe could see a tall woman with grey hair done up in a little bun walk out of the house.

"Miss Cuthbert, this is Joe."

"Good afternoon Joe, welcome to Green Gables."

"Good afternoon ma'am. Thank you for agreeing to adopt me."

"Come inside now, I have some afternoon tea for us all."

Joe walked into the house, it was simple enough but it seemed like a palace to his eyes. It was clean for one thing, there was barely a speck of dirt anywhere, Miss Cuthbert must be a stickler for housework he guessed.

"Joe, this will be your room." Miss Cuthbert directed him to a room off the kitchen. "Mr Cuthbert is located next door. Put your bag down and come out to wash."

Joe barely had time to look around at his surroundings; he would examine it later. For now he was hungry and afternoon tea beckoned. He hoped it would be tasty.

After washing at the pump, they sat down at the table. Miss Cuthbert served plum puffs, ginger snaps and apples with tea for the adults and milk for the children.

Joe hesitantly took a ginger snap from the plate, but Miss Cuthbert offered the plate of plum puffs too, "take a couple Joe, I'm sure you're famished after your long day." Like Anne, Joe was too thin. She would make it her mission to fatten these poor waifs up.

The puffs were nicer than anything Joe had ever eaten. He ate them quickly and wanted to lick his fingers afterwards, but thought that might not be polite. He wiped his hands on his pants instead.

"Anne you might like to show Joe around the property before dinner." Marilla suggested.

"C'mon Joe, this is ever such a lovely place." Joe followed her out the door and to the barn. "They have cows, horses, goats, pigs and chickens. I expect you'll get to know them all soon enough. You look a bit pale Joe, are you all right?"

"I just need to sit down for a bit, Anne. It's all a bit much to take in right now. When I woke up this morning I didn't know what to expect, but it wasn't this."

"Oh yes, I absolutely understand, do you want to go and lie down for a bit?"

"Would that be all right? I won't get into trouble will I?"

"Oh no, not at all. Miss Cuthbert is strict enough, but she sees sense. I'll just tell her you need a rest." They made their way back to the house. Marilla was surprised to see them back so soon. "Miss Cuthbert, Joe has had a big day, he needs to lie down for a bit."

"Yes of course, can I get you anything else Joe?"

"No, that's all right thank you Miss Cuthbert. I just …"

Lord, the boy looks like he might faint, she thought as she watched him walk into his room and close the door. "Is he all right Anne?" Marilla enquired.

"I think it's been a big day for him, that's all. He just needs time to adjust."

"Just so, just so. Can you come and give me a hand with dinner then."

Joe lay in his bed thinking, just this morning he had woken up in his asylum bed in a draughty room with a too thin blanket and now he was lying in his own room, on a soft bed with as many blankets as he could ever wish for, he nodded off to sleep, hoping it wasn't all a dream.