Marilla of Cuthbert Place

I wasn't planning on starting my Marilla fic until I had finished Rilla-my-Rilla, but time is running out before I start school again and I probably won't have a whole lot of time to write once it does, and besides -- I couldn't resist starting the first chapter. Here's a sneak peek of what I have so far:

Thomas Lynde was done with his share of the plowing for the day and went in to wash his face and have his supper. When he was done with the good meal his mother placed before him he washed his face again, not that it needed it. He was exceptionally tidy. But that was the kind of person Thomas was. He had been told as a small boy once that he must always was his face before and after supper whether it needed to be washed or not and so Thomas did. He was not the sort to question things.

"Well," said Thomas, after carefully hanging the dishtowel back on the hook, as he always did. "It's a nice enough night. I suppose I'll walk down to Cuthbert place."

His father said nothing, just puffed his pipe and nodded. But his mother looked up sharply.

"Mind you don't forget your hat," she warned.

Thomas never went anywhere without his hat. He had a head of pale blond hair that he didn't feel quite right about. The only other person in the town who had such pale, whitish hair was Harmon Andrews' maiden aunt. It looked all right on her, Thomas supposed, but on a boy of just eighteen it was queer. It was a relief to put on his hat and cover it up. In fact, in all of his eighteen years Thomas had never once gone out of the house without his hat. He would not have dreamed of it. Still, his mother always reminded him, as if she was sure he would forget. That was the kind of woman that his mother was.

Mrs. Lynde would not have wanted her son to think she was niggling or bothersome. She did not want him to think she was worrying over him. But the truth of the matter was that Mrs. Lynde had a strong suspicion that it was not little Matthew Cuthbert her son was going to see. Last winter, she would not have thought twice about it. It was nice of her son to go and see the Cuthbert boy, who was a bit of an invalid. Always coming down with something or another. Plus, Pa had his eye on that little field that bordered their south pasture. It would be easier to convince Cuthbert to sell if Thomas was friends with their boy. So Mrs. Lynde had not batted an eyelash.

But now it was spring and the Cuthbert boy was better and they had acquired the south field and set out a little stand of fruit trees in it, but still, here was Thomas, going down to Cuthbert Place almost every night now. The Cuthberts were nice enough, and Presbyterians, but poor as church mice, and just as shiftless as they could be. The father seemed to spend more time playing his fiddle than farming his land, and the mother, for all of her attendance at the church in town, was rumoured to have been a Papist in her youth. The children were hardly ever dressed decently – the boy swathed in layers of clothing, and the girl going round with her hair streaming out behind her. The whole kid and caboodle of them still lived in the little log cabin with the lean-to that George Cuthbert had built for himself when the town was founded, though near every other one of the settlers had built something better and bigger. And he didn't seem to mind. At night, Mrs. Lynde could see the little oil-paper windows lit up and glowing with warmth in the ways that glass window-panes never could.

The Lyndes were not uppity people, and so that was not the root of Mrs. Lynde's worry for her son. He was not going to see Matthew Cuthbert, and he had no especial bond with the father and the mother spoke very little English and so Thomas could not be going to see her. That left only one person, and Mrs. Lynde definitely did not want her son going to visit her.

She did not know what it was about Marilla Cuthbert that bothered her so. Perhaps it was her very name – it had such a weird, outlandish twang. Until last summer, the girl had always walked down the road with her brother on her way to school, wearing a coonskin cap that matched the boy's, and both of them chattering in that weird patois that their mother used. The girl's hair, as long and dark as a Mickmack Indian's, fell down her back and around her shoulders, loose, and whipped against her overly red cheeks. At only fifteen, the Cuthbert girl was taller than her brother – taller than Thomas. This, too, set Mrs. Lynde's teeth, though, again, she could not exactly say why.

Mrs. Lynde would have liked to tell her son to stay at home that night. She would have liked to voice some disapproval against the Cuthbert girl, and his going to see her, but the truth is – the truest truth – is that Mrs. Lynde loved her son more than anything in the world and did not know how to say these things to him. She did not even know how to say how much she loved him. So instead,

"Go on, then," she said disapprovingly. "Mind you don't track dust in when you come home, Thomas, for I've just swept the floor."

Now, Thomas never tracked in dust. It was simply not in his nature to do so. Still, he nodded his head and said, "Yes, ma'am," because that is the kind of man that Thomas Lynde was growing up to be.

This is only the first part of the first chapter, and so I don't think I'll be giving anything away! Are you intrigued? Should I write more? Should I scrap it?

14 Responses
  1. iffie21 Says:

    I wrote you back about it but I'll say it here too. I love your word choices and you definately should keep going!

  2. r6144 Says:

    I like it very much. The Cuthbert place seems very different in the 1830s (what's the exact year?) from what is described in AoGG in the 1870s, but it is unlikely that nothing changed in 40 years anyway. I think there would be a lot of things worth writing about in these years.

    Thomas Lynde is quite similar to my imagination about him, being bossed by his mother and then his wife :) And he is courting Marilla? What a complex web you are weaving!

  3. Don't scrap it, please! I don't care if it takes years to finish, you've got too many wonderful plans to just scrap it.

    It is taking a bit of imagination to see Marilla so totally different than she was when they got Anne, but time changes people a great deal - just as it mellowed her after Anne, Davey, and Dora.

    I can't wait to read more - of any of your works.

  4. geeruby Says:

    r6144: Marilla says in Anne's House of Dreams that the "new" house wasn't built until she and Matthew were grown, and so this is my idea of what the "old" one looked like.

  5. Rachel Says:

    Yes, please continue with this story, I am in agreement with Adrienne, even if it takes you years to finish it. It is something new and fresh and I would like to know more about your take on Marilla's youth.

  6. Blythetwin Says:

    I love it already. There is so much you can do with this story.
    The only thing I have wonder about is are you going to have Marilla's mother be French? We find out in AofGG that she is Scotish when Anne plants a Scotch rosebush on Matthew's grave.
    Of course this is pretty nit-picky, so feel free to ignore it, it IS your story. Either way, keep writing, don't scrap it!

  7. geeruby Says:

    Hmmm. I just reread that part and that does throw a crank in my story. I really wanted Marilla's mother to be French because the Acadians were very important in the history of PEI, especially at that time. I'll have to either change it or think of a way to work the Scotland part in...

  8. Maybe she was half French? It would make for an interesting story though because it has seemed to me that the Acadians were somewhat looked down upon by the Anglo settlers.

  9. geeruby Says:

    Exactly what I was counting on! Marilla's family is rich and French and they approved of George Cuthbert -- but most of the other people in Avonlea disapprove of their mother because she's French. Well, it was a nice idea. I'll have to think of a way to make it work.

  10. Oooh! I can't wait to read more! This looks so good!!!!

  11. I think that it could still work. Her family could have been not Catholic but Huguenots, forced to flee to the safety of Scotland after religious persecution over the past several years. This could prove interesting.

  12. iffie21 Says:

    you could do that or maybe she is Scottish but was adopted by a French family. The possibilities are endless.

  13. geeruby Says:

    ohhh Adrienne! U r teh sm4test! I forgot ALL about the Huguenots!

    Ingrid, you're right, the possibilities are endless.

  14. I guess that all that useless historical knowledge I know isn't quite so useless after all. LOL