The first time he saw her was at the picnic. The tiniest homeliest girl he had ever seen. Instantly he knew she was different than any girl in Avonlea. And that didn't sit well with him. Rumors were already spreading about the orphan. About how she had a bad temper. How she had yelled at Mrs. Lynde, And was forgiven.
"My, my. Looks like the Cuthbert's picked up a stray," he heard his father reproach. A stray? Funny. He could use that.
"A stray dog," he joked. He barked at her. She looked scared and to the point of tears as others around him began to talk about her and tease her.
But what did he care? She was a dog.
The next time he sees her is at school. She walks in with stupid flowers in her hair and Diana introduced her to the other girls, his sister's friends. He walks up to them with his friends and barks at her.
She held her head up defiantly. "You're ridiculous."
"Hey look! It's a talking dog." Billy laughed with his friends. "Can you fetch too?"
"Billy, let her be," his sister reprimanded.
But he wasn't backing down easy. "Sit, stay, roll over." He could see her clench her jaw trying not to cry. But he didn't care. She was an ugly orphan anyway.
"Don't mind my brother," Jane apologized. "He's ridiculous!"
Billy couldn't help it. He looked at her between Tillie and Ruby and barked at her one last time. He spent the rest of the day bothering her, barking with his friends. He didn't know why he did it. He just knew it was funny.
The third time wasn't so pretty. He waited for her in the woods he knew she walked through. He heard crunching leaves and revealed himself from his hiding spot.
"Anne of Green Gables," he said menacingly. Anne visibly paled and halted. "You and me, we're gonna talk. You said some pretty nasty stuff about my sister." He walked towards her and she backed away.
"Who's your sister?" Anne asked quietly, eyes wide with fear.
"Prissy Andrews, dummy."
"I'm pretty sure I didn't mean to be nasty."
Billy scoffed. This orphan girl had the audacity to deny that she said horrible things about his sister, making her cry.
"Is that why she was crying all night?" He continued to walk towards her. He could see the fear in her eyes. Good. He wanted to make sure she got the message. "My parents say that's slander. You want to get slandered?"
"Sorry. I truly meant no harm," Anne tried to apologize again. But Billy wasn't having any of it. He chuckled. She dropped her books, terrified. Billy almost felt sorry for the younger girl. Almost.
"I'm gonna teach you a lesson, Fido." Back again with referring to her as a dog. He didn't know why he continued it, but he did. "You're a bad dog. Bad little dog."
He saw her gulp and almost accept her fate, whatever it may be. Billy wasn't entirely sure what it was going to be.
But then he heard Gilbert. Gilbert was back. Billy immediately backed down. This was between Anne and him. He didn't need Blythe coming around trying to be all chivalrous. He left the two and marched to school. He was still seething at the orphan. He was also mad at Gilbert. Gilbert just had to be the gentleman that he is and intervene. If he hadn't, Billy would've taught that ugly orphan a lesson about messing with his sisters. He over heard Gilbert talking to the other guys.
"I don't care where she's from, a cute girl is a cute girl," he overheard Gilbert say. Billy crinkled his nose in disgust. Gilbert thought the orphan was cute? Billy forced himself to look at her. If he looked really hard he could almost - nope, still ugly, red hair and all. Billy couldn't believe that Gilbert had eyes for - what was her name again? Anne. so it felt satisfying when he saw she rejected his apple and yelled at him. And very hilarious when she whacked him upside the head. he was sure the whole of Avonlea heard. Everyone was shocked when she did that, including herself. It had startled Billy, he had no idea the young girl had that in her. He could respect that. but that would not sway his low opinion of her. And then she walked out. she held her head up high, eyes forward and just made a mad dash out of the door. Mr. Phillips was furious. no one had ever dared stand up to him like that. Billy smirked. This girl had guts. She may still be an ugly, orphan dog, but every dog has its bite.
His smirk was quickly replaced with a scowl as Mr. Phillips made the whole class copy from their readers while he wallowed in the teacher's room. He'd have to get Anne back for the cramp in his wrist.
Billy awoke suddenly by his father rousing him. "Billy, come quick. There is a fire at the Gillis house."
Billy sprung into action and followed his father. When they arrived, the left side of the house was up in flames. men were already frantically passing buckets between them. He saw Gilbert run up. They, being the oldest and strongest of the boys, ran up the ladder and began dousing the flames with water. They continued passing buckets between them, but it didn't seem to be doing much.
He was becoming tired. The flames were hot and causing him to sweat. He could smell the scent of burning wood, ash, and smoke. His eyes began to water due to the dark smoke coming from the house. but he pushed on, because there was no way he would accept defeat. The cries of children, men yelling, and the nervous chatter of the women all mixed into his brain. He vaguely heard faint screams in the back of his mind. Anne! Anne! What had that ugly orphan done now? he doesn't wait to long to find out. Gilbert pauses momentarily and Billy sees a shadow run past the window. Surely he was seeing things. the adrenaline pumping through his veins was clouding his judgement. but he wasn't seeing things for Gilbert shouts "Anne!" before Billy hears a door slam shut. He wasn't just imagining it.
Gilbert gets a new surge of energy and is yelling at everyone to bring water faster, a sense of urgency in his voice. Billy knows its not about the fire, but he just does as Gilbert says. Soon the fire starts slowing down. Did Anne have something to do with this? Was she still inside? For a moment Billy was worried. Was this girl really about to give her life to save the house of a girl who didn't even like her?
But then he hears happy shouts from below and allows himself to glance in that direction. sure enough, Anne came out stumbling, gasping for breath. She was okay. Billy felt slightly relieved. Not because he cared about that stupid orphan, but because he really didn't want to deal with a funeral.
By the time the fire was completely put out, the sun was peeking over the horizon. The minister gave a small sermon and everyone stared solemnly at the charred Gillis house. Billy looked over to Anne. She was covered in soot. She actually helped save the Gillis's home.
The next day all the men and older boys were helping rebuild the house after the fire. Gilbert and Billy were on the scaffolding, helping by building a new roof. Billy took a break to wipe the sweat off his brow and noticed Anne and Ruby making their way towards them with a basket. He cant help but chuckle on how out of place and miserable Ruby looked wearing Anne's ugly dress.
"Hey, look, it's the freak and her new twin sister." Billy snickered.
Gilbert rolled his eyes. "As long as they bring food, I don't care if it's Quasimodo."
Billy saw the small girl trip over her feet and fall to the ground. Anne immediately dropped the basket and ran to her aid. Ruby was probably distracted by Gilbert. Literally everyone knew about her crush on him and her supposed 'dibs'. Well everyone but Gilbert.
Billy chuckled. "That was great."
"Ruby, are you alright?" Anne went to help the smaller girl. Ruby began to cry. Billy rolled his eyes.
He chuckled. "Girls are so useless. Guess you should have stayed home in the kitchen, eh?"
Anne scowled at him." What is wrong with you?"
Billy wasn't backing down. "Go home and bake cookies!" he yelled back.
Headline: they already did," Gilbert deadpanned.
Anne's face turned red. "This is ruby's property or did you forget?"
Why don't you shove off and leave the men to their work?" Billy yelled. Gilbert had had enough and began climbing down to help Ruby up.
"Why don't you give me that hammer and I'll finish the job myself, if you're too busy being a bully to get it done?" Anne screamed at Billy. the men all laughed at her outburst. Billy clenched his jaw and ignored them. He really hoped they were laughing at her and not him. He glanced down to catch the disapproving look on his father's face. Great. Now he was going to get a lecture on being 'respectful to all women'. But they weren't women. Anne and Ruby were just little girls. Just like his sister, Jane. And if someone laughed at his sister he would gladly beat them up. And he was no better.
he waited until the girls were gone to sneak down the scaffolding. Gilbert gave him a curious look. But Billy was hungry. he saw the basket full of scones and grabbed a couple before going back up.
"You're unbelievable," Gilbert scoffed. Billy rolled his eyes. He was not one to be judged by Gilbert Blythe. And as much as he hated to admit it, Anne and Ruby's scones were delicious.
Ruby had finally returned to her home and school was once again back in session. Billy groaned on his way to school as Jane complained to Prissy about Anne not being back.
"And she's ever so smart," Jane said. "And she's choosing to not come to school."
"I don't think that's very smart of her," Prissy said. "Mother says that young girls should take advantage of school and get an education just like their male counterparts."
"I don't even understand why you care about that ugly orphan anyway," Billy grumbled. "She said nasty things about you and made you cry."
Prissy glared at her brother. "I seem to recall you being quite cruel when we were younger , Billy. you said hurtful and made Jane cry many times, yet she forgave you, did she not?"
"That's different. I'm her brother," Billy argued. "Besides I didn't know any better."
"Neither did she," Prissy said. "Mother said that Miss Cuthbert came by the house and helped mother realize that Anne has grown up unsavory circumstances and it is the mature thing to have some allowances for her. We must be grateful that Anne has found a good home in Avonlea."
"Yeah, except shes not coming back to school," Jane frowned. "I thought maybe we could be friends, now that all has been forgiven. "
"Not all," Billy scoffed. "I still don't like her. She's got a big mouth and a big attitude."
Jane and Prissy ignored their brother and went to their seats. Billy sat at his own seat. Mr. Phillips seemed to drone on as he began the lesson. The girls all looked quite depressed, except Josie, as they had been since Anne left school. Gilbert had also been somewhat in a slump lately. Billy was starting to hope the orphan would show up so everyone could stop moping.
Suddenly the door opened. All Billy saw was a flash of red as all the girl immediately got up to greet Anne. Mr. Phillips shushed them and ushered them back to their seats. Billy smirked. Guess he was going to have to get used to Anne after all.