6 ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
had taken mental note of everything that was on that table. There were three plates laid, so that Marilla must be expecting some one home with Matthew to tea; but the dishes were every-day dishes and there was only crab-apple preserves and one kind of cake, so that the expected company could not be any particular company. Yet what of Matthew's white collar and the sorrel mare? Mrs. Rachel was getting fairly dizzy with this unusual mystery about quiet, unmysterious Green Gables.
"Good evening, Rachel," Marilla said briskly. "This is a real fine evening, isn't it? Won't you sit down? How are all your folks?"
Something that for lack of any other name might be called friendship existed and always had existed between Marilla Cuthbert and Mrs. Rachel, in spite of—or perhaps because of—their dissimilarity.
Marilla was a tall, thin woman, with angles and without curves; her dark hair showed some gray streaks and was always twisted up in a hard little knot behind with two wire hairpins stuck agres-sively through it. She looked like a woman of narrow experience and rigid conscience, which she wras; but there was a saving something about her mouth which, if it had been ever so slightly developed, might have been considered indicative of a sense of humour.
"We're all pretty well," said Mrs. Rachel. "I was kind of afraid you weren't, though, when I saw Matthew starting off to-day. I thought maybe he was going to the doctor's."
Manila's lips twitched understandingly. She had expected Mrs. Rachel up; she had known that the