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Anne of Green Gables


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CHAPTER XIII.
The Delights of Anticipation


IT’S time Anne was in to do her sewing,” said Marilla, glancing at the clock and then out into the yellow August afternoon where everything drowsed in the heat. “She stayed playing with Diana more than half an hour more ‘n I gave her leave to; and now she’s perched out there on the woodpile talking to Matthew, nineteen to the dozen, when she knows perfectly well she ought to be at her work. And of course he’s listening to her like a perfect ninny. I never saw such an infatuated man. The more she talks and the odder the things she says, the more he’s delighted evidently. Anne Shirley, you come right in here this minute, do you hear me!”

A series of staccato taps on the west window brought Anne flying in from the yard, eyes shining, cheeks faintly flushed with pink, unbraided hair streaming behind her in a torrent of brightness.

“Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed breathlessly, “there’s going to be a Sunday-school picnic next week—in Mr. Harmon Andrews’s field, right near the lake of Shining Waters. And Mrs. Superintendent Bell and Mrs. Rachel Lynde are going to make ice cream—think of it, Marilla—ice cream! And, oh, Marilla, can I go to it?”

“Just look at the clock, if you please, Anne. What time did I tell you to come in?”

“Two o’clock—but isn’t it splendid about the picnic, Marilla? Please can I go? Oh, I’ve never been to a picnic—I’ve dreamed of picnics, but I’ve never—”

“Yes, I told you to come at two o’clock. And it’s a quarter to three. I’d like to know why you didn’t obey me, Anne.”

“Why, I meant to, Marilla, as much as could be. But you have no idea how fascinating Idlewild is. And then, of course, I had to tell Matthew about the picnic. Matthew is such a sympathetic listener. Please can I go?”

“You’ll have to learn to resist the fascination of Idle-whatever-you-call-it. When I tell you to come in at a certain time I mean that time and not half an hour later. And you needn’t stop to discourse with sympathetic listeners on your way, either. As for the picnic, of course you can go. You’re a Sunday-school scholar, and it’s not likely I’d refuse to let you go when all the other little girls are going.”

“But—but,” faltered Anne, “Diana says that everybody must take a basket of things to eat. I can’t cook, as you know, Marilla, and—and—I don’t mind going to a picnic without puffed sleeves so much, but I’d feel terribly humiliated if I had to go without a basket. It’s been preying on my mind ever since Diana told me.”

“Well, it needn’t prey any longer. I’ll bake you a basket.”

“Oh, you dear good Marilla. Oh, you are so kind to me. Oh, I’m so much obliged to you.”

Getting through with her “ohs” Anne cast herself into Marilla’s arms and rapturously kissed her sallow cheek. It was the first time in her whole life that childish lips had voluntarily touched Marilla’s face. Again that sudden sensation of startling sweetness thrilled her. She was secretly vastly pleased at Anne’s impulsive caress, which was probably the reason why she said brusquely:

“There, there, never mind your kissing nonsense. I’d sooner see you doing strictly as you’re told. As for cooking, I mean to begin giving you lessons in that some of these days. But you’re so featherbrained, Anne, I’ve been waiting to see if you’d sober down a little and learn to be steady before I begin. You’ve got to keep your wits about you in cooking and not stop in the middle of things to let your thoughts rove all over creation. Now, get out your patchwork and have your square done before teatime.”

“I do not like patchwork,” said Anne dolefully, hunting out her workbasket and sitting down before a little heap of red and white diamonds with a sigh. “I think some kinds of sewing would be nice; but there’s no scope for imagination in patchwork. It’s just one little seam after another and you never seem to be getting anywhere. But of course I’d rather be Anne of Green Gables sewing patchwork than Anne of any other place with nothing to do but play. I wish time went as quick sewing patches as it does when I’m playing with Diana, though. Oh, we do have such elegant times, Marilla. I have to furnish most of the imagination, but I’m well able to do that. Diana is simply perfect in every other way. You know that little piece of land across the brook that runs up between our farm and Mr. Barry’s. It belongs to Mr. William Bell, and right in the corner there is a little ring of white birch trees—the most romantic spot, Marilla. Diana and I have our playhouse there. We call it Idlewild. Isn’t that a poetical name? I assure you it took me some time to think it out. I stayed awake nearly a whole night before I invented it. Then, just as I was dropping off to sleep, it came like an inspiration. Diana was enraptured when she heard it. We have got our house fixed up elegantly. You must come and see it, Marilla—won’t you? We have great big stones, all covered with moss, for seats, and boards from tree to tree for shelves. And we have all our dishes on them. Of course, they’re all broken but it’s the easiest thing in the world to imagine that they are whole. There’s a piece of a plate with a spray of red and yellow ivy on it that is especially beautiful. We keep it in the parlor and we have the fairy glass there, too. The fairy glass is as lovely as a dream. Diana found it out in the woods behind their chicken house. It’s all full of rainbows—just little young rainbows that haven’t grown big yet—and Diana’s mother told her it was broken off a hanging lamp they once had. But it’s nice to imagine the fairies lost it one night when they had a ball, so we call it the fairy glass. Matthew is going to make us a table. Oh, we have named that little round pool over in Mr. Barry’s field Willowmere. I got that name out of the book Diana lent me. That was a thrilling book, Marilla. The heroine had five lovers. I’d be satisfied with one, wouldn’t you? She was very handsome and she went through great tribulations. She could faint as easy as anything. I’d love to be able to faint, wouldn’t you, Marilla? It’s so romantic. But I’m really very healthy for all I’m so thin. I believe I’m getting fatter, though. Don’t you think I am? I look at my elbows every morning when I get up to see if any dimples are coming. Diana is having a new dress made with elbow sleeves. She is going to wear it to the picnic. Oh, I do hope it will be fine next Wednesday. I don’t feel that I could endure the disappointment if anything happened to prevent me from getting to the picnic. I suppose I’d live through it, but I’m certain it would be a lifelong sorrow. It wouldn’t matter if I got to a hundred picnics in after years; they wouldn’t make up for missing this one. They’re going to have boats on the Lake of Shining Waters—and ice cream, as I told you. I have never tasted ice cream. Diana tried to explain what it was like, but I guess ice cream is one of those things that are beyond imagination.”

“Anne, you have talked even on for ten minutes by the clock,” said Marilla. “Now, just for curiosity’s sake, see if you can hold your tongue for the same length of time.”

Anne held her tongue as desired. But for the rest of the week she talked picnic and thought picnic and dreamed picnic. On Saturday it rained and she worked herself up into such a frantic state lest it should keep on raining until and over Wednesday that Marilla made her sew an extra patchwork square by way of steadying her nerves.

On Sunday Anne confided to Marilla on the way home from church that she grew actually cold all over with excitement when the minister announced the picnic from the pulpit.

“Such a thrill as went up and down my back, Marilla! I don’t think I’d ever really believed until then that there was honestly going to be a picnic. I couldn’t help fearing I’d only imagined it. But when a minister says a thing in the pulpit you just have to believe it.”

“You set your heart too much on things, Anne,” said Marilla, with a sigh. “I’m afraid there’ll be a great many disappointments in store for you through life.”

“Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them,” exclaimed Anne. “You mayn’t get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde says, ‘Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.’ But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed.”

Marilla wore her amethyst brooch to church that day as usual. Marilla always wore her amethyst brooch to church. She would have thought it rather sacrilegious to leave it off—as bad as forgetting her Bible or her collection dime. That amethyst brooch was Marilla’s most treasured possession. A seafaring uncle had given it to her mother who in turn had bequeathed it to Marilla. It was an old-fashioned oval, containing a braid of her mother’s hair, surrounded by a border of very fine amethysts. Marilla knew too little about precious stones to realize how fine the amethysts actually were; but she thought them very beautiful and was always pleasantly conscious of their violet shimmer at her throat, above her good brown satin dress, even although she could not see it.

Anne had been smitten with delighted admiration when she first saw that brooch.

“Oh, Marilla, it’s a perfectly elegant brooch. I don’t know how you can pay attention to the sermon or the prayers when you have it on. I couldn’t, I know. I think amethysts are just sweet. They are what I used to think diamonds were like. Long ago, before I had ever seen a diamond, I read about them and I tried to imagine what they would be like. I thought they would be lovely glimmering purple stones. When I saw a real diamond in a lady’s ring one day I was so disappointed I cried. Of course, it was very lovely but it wasn’t my idea of a diamond. Will you let me hold the brooch for one minute, Marilla? Do you think amethysts can be the souls of good violets?”


CHAPTER XIV.
Anne’s Confession


ON the Monday evening before the picnic Marilla came down from her room with a troubled face.

“Anne,” she said to that small personage, who was shelling peas by the spotless table and singing, “Nelly of the Hazel Dell” with a vigor and expression that did credit to Diana’s teaching, “did you see anything of my amethyst brooch? I thought I stuck it in my pincushion when I came home from church yesterday evening, but I can’t find it anywhere.”

“I—I saw it this afternoon when you were away at the Aid Society,” said Anne, a little slowly. “I was passing your door when I saw it on the cushion, so I went in to look at it.”

“Did you touch it?” said Marilla sternly.

“Y-e-e-s,” admitted Anne, “I took it up and I pinned it on my breast just to see how it would look.”

“You had no business to do anything of the sort. It’s very wrong in a little girl to meddle. You shouldn’t have gone into my room in the first place and you shouldn’t have touched a brooch that didn’t belong to you in the second. Where did you put it?”

“Oh, I put it back on the bureau. I hadn’t it on a minute. Truly, I didn’t mean to meddle, Marilla. I didn’t think about its being wrong to go in and try on the brooch; but I see now that it was and I’ll never do it again. That’s one good thing about me. I never do the same naughty thing twice.”

“You didn’t put it back,” said Marilla. “That brooch isn’t anywhere on the bureau. You’ve taken it out or something, Anne.”

“I did put it back,” said Anne quickly—pertly, Marilla thought. “I don’t just remember whether I stuck it on the pincushion or laid it in the china tray. But I’m perfectly certain I put it back.”

“I’ll go and have another look,” said Marilla, determining to be just. “If you put that brooch back it’s there still. If it isn’t I’ll know you didn’t, that’s all!”

Marilla went to her room and made a thorough search, not only over the bureau but in every other place she thought the brooch might possibly be. It was not to be found and she returned to the kitchen.

“Anne, the brooch is gone. By your own admission you were the last person to handle it. Now, what have you done with it? Tell me the truth at once. Did you take it out and lose it?”

“No, I didn’t,” said Anne solemnly, meeting Marilla’s angry gaze squarely. “I never took the brooch out of your room and that is the truth, if I was to be led to the block for it—although I’m not very certain what a block is. So there, Marilla.”

Anne’s “so there” was only intended to emphasize her assertion, but Marilla took it as a display of defiance.

“I believe you are telling me a falsehood, Anne,” she said sharply. “I know you are. There now, don’t say anything more unless you are prepared to tell the whole truth. Go to your room and stay there until you are ready to confess.”

“Will I take the peas with me?” said Anne meekly.

“No, I’ll finish shelling them myself. Do as I bid you.”

When Anne had gone Marilla went about her evening tasks in a very disturbed state of mind. She was worried about her valuable brooch. What if Anne had lost it? And how wicked of the child to deny having taken it, when anybody could see she must have! With such an innocent face, too!

“I don’t know what I wouldn’t sooner have had happen,” thought Marilla, as she nervously shelled the peas. “Of course, I don’t suppose she meant to steal it or anything like that. She’s just taken it to play with or help along that imagination of hers. She must have taken it, that’s clear, for there hasn’t been a soul in that room since she was in it, by her own story, until I went up tonight. And the brooch is gone, there’s nothing surer. I suppose she has lost it and is afraid to own up for fear she’ll be punished. It’s a dreadful thing to think she tells falsehoods. It’s a far worse thing than her fit of temper. It’s a fearful responsibility to have a child in your house you can’t trust. Slyness and untruthfulness—that’s what she has displayed. I declare I feel worse about that than about the brooch. If she’d only have told the truth about it I wouldn’t mind so much.”

Marilla went to her room at intervals all through the evening and searched for the brooch, without finding it. A bedtime visit to the east gable produced no result. Anne persisted in denying that she knew anything about the brooch but Marilla was only the more firmly convinced that she did.

She told Matthew the story the next morning. Matthew was confounded and puzzled; he could not so quickly lose faith in Anne but he had to admit that circumstances were against her.

“You’re sure it hasn’t fell down behind the bureau?” was the only suggestion he could offer.

“I’ve moved the bureau and I’ve taken out the drawers and I’ve looked in every crack and cranny” was Marilla’s positive answer. “The brooch is gone and that child has taken it and lied about it. That’s the plain, ugly truth, Matthew Cuthbert, and we might as well look it in the face.”

“Well now, what are you going to do about it?” Matthew asked forlornly, feeling secretly thankful that Marilla and not he had to deal with the situation. He felt no desire to put his oar in this time.

“She’ll stay in her room until she confesses,” said Marilla grimly, remembering the success of this method in the former case. “Then we’ll see. Perhaps we’ll be able to find the brooch if she’ll only tell where she took it; but in any case she’ll have to be severely punished, Matthew.”

“Well now, you’ll have to punish her,” said Matthew, reaching for his hat. “I’ve nothing to do with it, remember. You warned me off yourself.”

Marilla felt deserted by everyone. She could not even go to Mrs. Lynde for advice. She went up to the east gable with a very serious face and left it with a face more serious still. Anne steadfastly refused to confess. She persisted in asserting that she had not taken the brooch. The child had evidently been crying and Marilla felt a pang of pity which she sternly repressed. By night she was, as she expressed it, “beat out.”

“You’ll stay in this room until you confess, Anne. You can make up your mind to that,” she said firmly.

“But the picnic is tomorrow, Marilla,” cried Anne. “You won’t keep me from going to that, will you? You’ll just let me out for the afternoon, won’t you? Then I’ll stay here as long as you like afterwards cheerfully. But I must go to the picnic.”

“You’ll not go to picnics nor anywhere else until you’ve confessed, Anne.”

“Oh, Marilla,” gasped Anne.

But Marilla had gone out and shut the door.

Wednesday morning dawned as bright and fair as if expressly made to order for the picnic. Birds sang around Green Gables; the Madonna lilies in the garden sent out whiffs of perfume that entered in on viewless winds at every door and window, and wandered through halls and rooms like spirits of benediction. The birches in the hollow waved joyful hands as if watching for Anne’s usual morning greeting from the east gable. But Anne was not at her window. When Marilla took her breakfast up to her she found the child sitting primly on her bed, pale and resolute, with tight-shut lips and gleaming eyes.

“Marilla, I’m ready to confess.”

“Ah!” Marilla laid down her tray. Once again her method had succeeded; but her success was very bitter to her. “Let me hear what you have to say then, Anne.”

“I took the amethyst brooch,” said Anne, as if repeating a lesson she had learned. “I took it just as you said. I didn’t mean to take it when I went in. But it did look so beautiful, Marilla, when I pinned it on my breast that I was overcome by an irresistible temptation. I imagined how perfectly thrilling it would be to take it to Idlewild and play I was the Lady Cordelia Fitzgerald. It would be so much easier to imagine I was the Lady Cordelia if I had a real amethyst brooch on. Diana and I make necklaces of roseberries but what are roseberries compared to amethysts? So I took the brooch. I thought I could put it back before you came home. I went all the way around by the road to lengthen out the time. When I was going over the bridge across the Lake of Shining Waters I took the brooch off to have another look at it. Oh, how it did shine in the sunlight! And then, when I was leaning over the bridge, it just slipped through my fingers—so—and went down—down—down, all purply-sparkling, and sank forevermore beneath the Lake of Shining Waters. And that’s the best I can do at confessing, Marilla.”

Marilla felt hot anger surge up into her heart again. This child had taken and lost her treasured amethyst brooch and now sat there calmly reciting the details thereof without the least apparent compunction or repentance.

“Anne, this is terrible,” she said, trying to speak calmly. “You are the very wickedest girl I ever heard of.”

“Yes, I suppose I am,” agreed Anne tranquilly. “And I know I’ll have to be punished. It’ll be your duty to punish me, Marilla. Won’t you please get it over right off because I’d like to go to the picnic with nothing on my mind.”

“Picnic, indeed! You’ll go to no picnic today, Anne Shirley. That shall be your punishment. And it isn’t half severe enough either for what you’ve done!”

“Not go to the picnic!” Anne sprang to her feet and clutched Marilla’s hand. “But you promised me I might! Oh, Marilla, I must go to the picnic. That was why I confessed. Punish me any way you like but that. Oh, Marilla, please, please, let me go to the picnic. Think of the ice cream! For anything you know I may never have a chance to taste ice cream again.”

Marilla disengaged Anne’s clinging hands stonily.

“You needn’t plead, Anne. You are not going to the picnic and that’s final. No, not a word.”

Anne realized that Marilla was not to be moved. She clasped her hands together, gave a piercing shriek, and then flung herself face downward on the bed, crying and writhing in an utter abandonment of disappointment and despair.

“For the land’s sake!” gasped Marilla, hastening from the room. “I believe the child is crazy. No child in her senses would behave as she does. If she isn’t she’s utterly bad. Oh dear, I’m afraid Rachel was right from the first. But I’ve put my hand to the plow and I won’t look back.”

That was a dismal morning. Marilla worked fiercely and scrubbed the porch floor and the dairy shelves when she could find nothing else to do. Neither the shelves nor the porch needed it—but Marilla did. Then she went out and raked the yard.

When dinner was ready she went to the stairs and called Anne. A tear-stained face appeared, looking tragically over the banisters.

“Come down to your dinner, Anne.”

“I don’t want any dinner, Marilla,” said Anne, sobbingly. “I couldn’t eat anything. My heart is broken. You’ll feel remorse of conscience someday, I expect, for breaking it, Marilla, but I forgive you. Remember when the time comes that I forgive you. But please don’t ask me to eat anything, especially boiled pork and greens. Boiled pork and greens are so unromantic when one is in affliction.”

Exasperated, Marilla returned to the kitchen and poured out her tale of woe to Matthew, who, between his sense of justice and his unlawful sympathy with Anne, was a miserable man.

“Well now, she shouldn’t have taken the brooch, Marilla, or told stories about it,” he admitted, mournfully surveying his plateful of unromantic pork and greens as if he, like Anne, thought it a food unsuited to crises of feeling, “but she’s such a little thing—such an interesting little thing. Don’t you think it’s pretty rough not to let her go to the picnic when she’s so set on it?”

“Matthew Cuthbert, I’m amazed at you. I think I’ve let her off entirely too easy. And she doesn’t appear to realize how wicked she’s been at all—that’s what worries me most. If she’d really felt sorry it wouldn’t be so bad. And you don’t seem to realize it, neither; you’re making excuses for her all the time to yourself—I can see that.”

“Well now, she’s such a little thing,” feebly reiterated Matthew. “And there should be allowances made, Marilla. You know she’s never had any bringing up.”

“Well, she’s having it now” retorted Marilla.

The retort silenced Matthew if it did not convince him. That dinner was a very dismal meal. The only cheerful thing about it was Jerry Buote, the hired boy, and Marilla resented his cheerfulness as a personal insult.

When her dishes were washed and her bread sponge set and her hens fed Marilla remembered that she had noticed a small rent in her best black lace shawl when she had taken it off on Monday afternoon on returning from the Ladies’ Aid.

She would go and mend it. The shawl was in a box in her trunk. As Marilla lifted it out, the sunlight, falling through the vines that clustered thickly about the window, struck upon something caught in the shawl—something that glittered and sparkled in facets of violet light. Marilla snatched at it with a gasp. It was the amethyst brooch, hanging to a thread of the lace by its catch!

“Dear life and heart,” said Marilla blankly, “what does this mean? Here’s my brooch safe and sound that I thought was at the bottom of Barry’s pond. Whatever did that girl mean by saying she took it and lost it? I declare I believe Green Gables is bewitched. I remember now that when I took off my shawl Monday afternoon I laid it on the bureau for a minute. I suppose the brooch got caught in it somehow. Well!”

Marilla betook herself to the east gable, brooch in hand. Anne had cried herself out and was sitting dejectedly by the window.

“Anne Shirley,” said Marilla solemnly, “I’ve just found my brooch hanging to my black lace shawl. Now I want to know what that rigmarole you told me this morning meant.”

“Why, you said you’d keep me here until I confessed,” returned Anne wearily, “and so I decided to confess because I was bound to get to the picnic. I thought out a confession last night after I went to bed and made it as interesting as I could. And I said it over and over so that I wouldn’t forget it. But you wouldn’t let me go to the picnic after all, so all my trouble was wasted.”

Marilla had to laugh in spite of herself. But her conscience pricked her.

“Anne, you do beat all! But I was wrong—I see that now. I shouldn’t have doubted your word when I’d never known you to tell a story. Of course, it wasn’t right for you to confess to a thing you hadn’t done—it was very wrong to do so. But I drove you to it. So if you’ll forgive me, Anne, I’ll forgive you and we’ll start square again. And now get yourself ready for the picnic.”

Anne flew up like a rocket.

“Oh, Marilla, isn’t it too late?”

“No, it’s only two o’clock. They won’t be more than well gathered yet and it’ll be an hour before they have tea. Wash your face and comb your hair and put on your gingham. I’ll fill a basket for you. There’s plenty of stuff baked in the house. And I’ll get Jerry to hitch up the sorrel and drive you down to the picnic ground.”

“Oh, Marilla,” exclaimed Anne, flying to the washstand. “Five minutes ago I was so miserable I was wishing I’d never been born and now I wouldn’t change places with an angel!”

That night a thoroughly happy, completely tired-out Anne returned to Green Gables in a state of beatification impossible to describe.

“Oh, Marilla, I’ve had a perfectly scrumptious time. Scrumptious is a new word I learned today. I heard Mary Alice Bell use it. Isn’t it very expressive? Everything was lovely. We had a splendid tea and then Mr. Harmon Andrews took us all for a row on the Lake of Shining Waters—six of us at a time. And Jane Andrews nearly fell overboard. She was leaning out to pick water lilies and if Mr. Andrews hadn’t caught her by her sash just in the nick of time she’d fallen in and prob’ly been drowned. I wish it had been me. It would have been such a romantic experience to have been nearly drowned. It would be such a thrilling tale to tell. And we had the ice cream. Words fail me to describe that ice cream. Marilla, I assure you it was sublime.”

That evening Marilla told the whole story to Matthew over her stocking basket.

“I’m willing to own up that I made a mistake,” she concluded candidly, “but I’ve learned a lesson. I have to laugh when I think of Anne’s ‘confession,’ although I suppose I shouldn’t for it really was a falsehood. But it doesn’t seem as bad as the other would have been, somehow, and anyhow I’m responsible for it. That child is hard to understand in some respects. But I believe she’ll turn out all right yet. And there’s one thing certain, no house will ever be dull that she’s in.”


CHAPTER XV.
A Tempest in the School Teapot


WHAT a splendid day!” said Anne, drawing a long breath. “Isn’t it good just to be alive on a day like this? I pity the people who aren’t born yet for missing it. They may have good days, of course, but they can never have this one. And it’s splendider still to have such a lovely way to go to school by, isn’t it?”

“It’s a lot nicer than going round by the road; that is so dusty and hot,” said Diana practically, peeping into her dinner basket and mentally calculating if the three juicy, toothsome, raspberry tarts reposing there were divided among ten girls how many bites each girl would have.

The little girls of Avonlea school always pooled their lunches, and to eat three raspberry tarts all alone or even to share them only with one’s best chum would have forever and ever branded as “awful mean” the girl who did it. And yet, when the tarts were divided among ten girls you just got enough to tantalize you.

The way Anne and Diana went to school was a pretty one. Anne thought those walks to and from school with Diana couldn’t be improved upon even by imagination. Going around by the main road would have been so unromantic; but to go by Lover’s Lane and Willowmere and Violet Vale and the Birch Path was romantic, if ever anything was.

Lover’s Lane opened out below the orchard at Green Gables and stretched far up into the woods to the end of the Cuthbert farm. It was the way by which the cows were taken to the back pasture and the wood hauled home in winter. Anne had named it Lover’s Lane before she had been a month at Green Gables.

“Not that lovers ever really walk there,” she explained to Marilla, “but Diana and I are reading a perfectly magnificent book and there’s a Lover’s Lane in it. So we want to have one, too. And it’s a very pretty name, don’t you think? So romantic! We can’t imagine the lovers into it, you know. I like that lane because you can think out loud there without people calling you crazy.”

Anne, starting out alone in the morning, went down Lover’s Lane as far as the brook. Here Diana met her, and the two little girls went on up the lane under the leafy arch of maples—“maples are such sociable trees,” said Anne; “they’re always rustling and whispering to you”—until they came to a rustic bridge. Then they left the lane and walked through Mr. Barry’s back field and past Willowmere. Beyond Willowmere came Violet Vale—a little green dimple in the shadow of Mr. Andrew Bell’s big woods. “Of course there are no violets there now,” Anne told Marilla, “but Diana says there are millions of them in spring. Oh, Marilla, can’t you just imagine you see them? It actually takes away my breath. I named it Violet Vale. Diana says she never saw the beat of me for hitting on fancy names for places. It’s nice to be clever at something, isn’t it? But Diana named the Birch Path. She wanted to, so I let her; but I’m sure I could have found something more poetical than plain Birch Path. Anybody can think of a name like that. But the Birch Path is one of the prettiest places in the world, Marilla.”

It was. Other people besides Anne thought so when they stumbled on it. It was a little narrow, twisting path, winding down over a long hill straight through Mr. Bell’s woods, where the light came down sifted through so many emerald screens that it was as flawless as the heart of a diamond. It was fringed in all its length with slim young birches, white stemmed and lissom boughed; ferns and starflowers and wild lilies-of-the-valley and scarlet tufts of pigeonberries grew thickly along it; and always there was a delightful spiciness in the air and music of bird calls and the murmur and laugh of wood winds in the trees overhead. Now and then you might see a rabbit skipping across the road if you were quiet—which, with Anne and Diana, happened about once in a blue moon. Down in the valley the path came out to the main road and then it was just up the spruce hill to the school.

The Avonlea school was a whitewashed building, low in the eaves and wide in the windows, furnished inside with comfortable substantial old-fashioned desks that opened and shut, and were carved all over their lids with the initials and hieroglyphics of three generations of school children. The schoolhouse was set back from the road and behind it was a dusky fir wood and a brook where all the children put their bottles of milk in the morning to keep cool and sweet until dinner hour.

Marilla had seen Anne start off to school on the first day of September with many secret misgivings. Anne was such an odd girl. How would she get on with the other children? And how on earth would she ever manage to hold her tongue during school hours?

Things went better than Marilla feared, however. Anne came home that evening in high spirits.

“I think I’m going to like school here,” she announced. “I don’t think much of the master, through. He’s all the time curling his mustache and making eyes at Prissy Andrews. Prissy is grown up, you know. She’s sixteen and she’s studying for the entrance examination into Queen’s Academy at Charlottetown next year. Tillie Boulter says the master is dead gone on her. She’s got a beautiful complexion and curly brown hair and she does it up so elegantly. She sits in the long seat at the back and he sits there, too, most of the time—to explain her lessons, he says. But Ruby Gillis says she saw him writing something on her slate and when Prissy read it she blushed as red as a beet and giggled; and Ruby Gillis says she doesn’t believe it had anything to do with the lesson.”

“Anne Shirley, don’t let me hear you talking about your teacher in that way again,” said Marilla sharply. “You don’t go to school to criticize the master. I guess he can teach you something, and it’s your business to learn. And I want you to understand right off that you are not to come home telling tales about him. That is something I won’t encourage. I hope you were a good girl.”

“Indeed I was,” said Anne comfortably. “It wasn’t so hard as you might imagine, either. I sit with Diana. Our seat is right by the window and we can look down to the Lake of Shining Waters. There are a lot of nice girls in school and we had scrumptious fun playing at dinnertime. It’s so nice to have a lot of little girls to play with. But of course I like Diana best and always will. I adore Diana. I’m dreadfully far behind the others. They’re all in the fifth book and I’m only in the fourth. I feel that it’s kind of a disgrace. But there’s not one of them has such an imagination as I have and I soon found that out. We had reading and geography and Canadian history and dictation today. Mr. Phillips said my spelling was disgraceful and he held up my slate so that everybody could see it, all marked over. I felt so mortified, Marilla; he might have been politer to a stranger, I think. Ruby Gillis gave me an apple and Sophia Sloane lent me a lovely pink card with ‘May I see you home?’ on it. I’m to give it back to her tomorrow. And Tillie Boulter let me wear her bead ring all the afternoon. Can I have some of those pearl beads off the old pincushion in the garret to make myself a ring? And oh, Marilla, Jane Andrews told me that Minnie MacPherson told her that she heard Prissy Andrews tell Sara Gillis that I had a very pretty nose. Marilla, that is the first compliment I have ever had in my life and you can’t imagine what a strange feeling it gave me. Marilla, have I really a pretty nose? I know you’ll tell me the truth.”

“Your nose is well enough,” said Marilla shortly. Secretly she thought Anne’s nose was a remarkable pretty one; but she had no intention of telling her so.

That was three weeks ago and all had gone smoothly so far. And now, this crisp September morning, Anne and Diana were tripping blithely down the Birch Path, two of the happiest little girls in Avonlea.

“I guess Gilbert Blythe will be in school today,” said Diana. “He’s been visiting his cousins over in New Brunswick all summer and he only came home Saturday night. He’s aw’fly handsome, Anne. And he teases the girls something terrible. He just torments our lives out.”

Diana’s voice indicated that she rather liked having her life tormented out than not.

“Gilbert Blythe?” said Anne. “Isn’t his name that’s written up on the porch wall with Julia Bell’s and a big ‘Take Notice’ over them?”

“Yes,” said Diana, tossing her head, “but I’m sure he doesn’t like Julia Bell so very much. I’ve heard him say he studied the multiplication table by her freckles.”

“Oh, don’t speak about freckles to me,” implored Anne. “It isn’t delicate when I’ve got so many. But I do think that writing take-notices up on the wall about the boys and girls is the silliest ever. I should just like to see anybody dare to write my name up with a boy’s. Not, of course,” she hastened to add, “that anybody would.”

Anne sighed. She didn’t want her name written up. But it was a little humiliating to know that there was no danger of it.

“Nonsense,” said Diana, whose black eyes and glossy tresses had played such havoc with the hearts of Avonlea schoolboys that her name figured on the porch walls in half a dozen take-notices. “It’s only meant as a joke. And don’t you be too sure your name won’t ever be written up. Charlie Sloane is dead gone on you. He told his mother—his mother, mind you—that you were the smartest girl in school. That’s better than being good looking.”

“No, it isn’t,” said Anne, feminine to the core. “I’d rather be pretty than clever. And I hate Charlie Sloane, I can’t bear a boy with goggle eyes. If anyone wrote my name up with his I’d never get over it, Diana Barry. But it is nice to keep head of your class.”

“You’ll have Gilbert in your class after this,” said Diana, “and he’s used to being head of his class, I can tell you. He’s only in the fourth book although he’s nearly fourteen. Four years ago his father was sick and had to go out to Alberta for his health and Gilbert went with him. They were there three years and Gil didn’t go to school hardly any until they came back. You won’t find it so easy to keep head after this, Anne.”

“I’m glad,” said Anne quickly. “I couldn’t really feel proud of keeping head of little boys and girls of just nine or ten. I got up yesterday spelling ‘ebullition.’ Josie Pye was head and, mind you, she peeped in her book. Mr. Phillips didn’t see her—he was looking at Prissy Andrews—but I did. I just swept her a look of freezing scorn and she got as red as a beet and spelled it wrong after all.”

“Those Pye girls are cheats all round,” said Diana indignantly, as they climbed the fence of the main road. “Gertie Pye actually went and put her milk bottle in my place in the brook yesterday. Did you ever? I don’t speak to her now.”

When Mr. Phillips was in the back of the room hearing Prissy Andrews’s Latin, Diana whispered to Anne, “That’s Gilbert Blythe sitting right across the aisle from you, Anne. Just look at him and see if you don’t think he’s handsome.”

Anne looked accordingly. She had a good chance to do so, for the said Gilbert Blythe was absorbed in stealthily pinning the long yellow braid of Ruby Gillis, who sat in front of him, to the back of her seat. He was a tall boy, with curly brown hair, roguish hazel eyes, and a mouth twisted into a teasing smile. Presently Ruby Gillis started up to take a sum to the master; she fell back into her seat with a little shriek, believing that her hair was pulled out by the roots. Everybody looked at her and Mr. Phillips glared so sternly that Ruby began to cry. Gilbert had whisked the pin out of sight and was studying his history with the soberest face in the world; but when the commotion subsided he looked at Anne and winked with inexpressible drollery.

“I think your Gilbert Blythe is handsome,” confided Anne to Diana, “but I think he’s very bold. It isn’t good manners to wink at a strange girl.”

But it was not until the afternoon that things really began to happen.

Mr. Phillips was back in the corner explaining a problem in algebra to Prissy Andrews and the rest of the scholars were doing pretty much as they pleased eating green apples, whispering, drawing pictures on their slates, and driving crickets harnessed to strings, up and down aisle. Gilbert Blythe was trying to make Anne Shirley look at him and failing utterly, because Anne was at that moment totally oblivious not only to the very existence of Gilbert Blythe, but of every other scholar in Avonlea school itself. With her chin propped on her hands and her eyes fixed on the blue glimpse of the Lake of Shining Waters that the west window afforded, she was far away in a gorgeous dreamland hearing and seeing nothing save her own wonderful visions.

Gilbert Blythe wasn’t used to putting himself out to make a girl look at him and meeting with failure. She should look at him, that red-haired Shirley girl with the little pointed chin and the big eyes that weren’t like the eyes of any other girl in Avonlea school.

Gilbert reached across the aisle, picked up the end of Anne’s long red braid, held it out at arm’s length and said in a piercing whisper:

“Carrots! Carrots!”

Then Anne looked at him with a vengeance!

She did more than look. She sprang to her feet, her bright fancies fallen into cureless ruin. She flashed one indignant glance at Gilbert from eyes whose angry sparkle was swiftly quenched in equally angry tears.

“You mean, hateful boy!” she exclaimed passionately. “How dare you!”

And then—thwack! Anne had brought her slate down on Gilbert’s head and cracked it—slate not head—clear across.

Avonlea school always enjoyed a scene. This was an especially enjoyable one. Everybody said “Oh” in horrified delight. Diana gasped. Ruby Gillis, who was inclined to be hysterical, began to cry. Tommy Sloane let his team of crickets escape him altogether while he stared open-mouthed at the tableau.

Mr. Phillips stalked down the aisle and laid his hand heavily on Anne’s shoulder.

“Anne Shirley, what does this mean?” he said angrily. Anne returned no answer. It was asking too much of flesh and blood to expect her to tell before the whole school that she had been called “carrots.” Gilbert it was who spoke up stoutly.

“It was my fault Mr. Phillips. I teased her.”

Mr. Phillips paid no heed to Gilbert.

“I am sorry to see a pupil of mine displaying such a temper and such a vindictive spirit,” he said in a solemn tone, as if the mere fact of being a pupil of his ought to root out all evil passions from the hearts of small imperfect mortals. “Anne, go and stand on the platform in front of the blackboard for the rest of the afternoon.”

Anne would have infinitely preferred a whipping to this punishment under which her sensitive spirit quivered as from a whiplash. With a white, set face she obeyed. Mr. Phillips took a chalk crayon and wrote on the blackboard above her head.

“Ann Shirley has a very bad temper. Ann Shirley must learn to control her temper,” and then read it out loud so that even the primer class, who couldn’t read writing, should understand it.

Anne stood there the rest of the afternoon with that legend above her. She did not cry or hang her head. Anger was still too hot in her heart for that and it sustained her amid all her agony of humiliation. With resentful eyes and passion-red cheeks she confronted alike Diana’s sympathetic gaze and Charlie Sloane’s indignant nods and Josie Pye’s malicious smiles. As for Gilbert Blythe, she would not even look at him. She would never look at him again! She would never speak to him!!

When school was dismissed Anne marched out with her red head held high. Gilbert Blythe tried to intercept her at the porch door.

“I’m awfully sorry I made fun of your hair, Anne,” he whispered contritely. “Honest I am. Don’t be mad for keeps, now.”

Anne swept by disdainfully, without look or sign of hearing. “Oh how could you, Anne?” breathed Diana as they went down the road half reproachfully, half admiringly. Diana felt that she could never have resisted Gilbert’s plea.

“I shall never forgive Gilbert Blythe,” said Anne firmly. “And Mr. Phillips spelled my name without an e, too. The iron has entered into my soul, Diana.”

Diana hadn’t the least idea what Anne meant but she understood it was something terrible.

“You mustn’t mind Gilbert making fun of your hair,” she said soothingly. “Why, he makes fun of all the girls. He laughs at mine because it’s so black. He’s called me a crow a dozen times; and I never heard him apologize for anything before, either.”

“There’s a great deal of difference between being called a crow and being called carrots,” said Anne with dignity. “Gilbert Blythe has hurt my feelings excruciatingly, Diana.”

It is possible the matter might have blown over without more excruciation if nothing else had happened. But when things begin to happen they are apt to keep on.

Avonlea scholars often spent noon hour picking gum in Mr. Bell’s spruce grove over the hill and across his big pasture field. From there they could keep an eye on Eben Wright’s house, where the master boarded. When they saw Mr. Phillips emerging therefrom they ran for the schoolhouse; but the distance being about three times longer than Mr. Wright’s lane they were very apt to arrive there, breathless and gasping, some three minutes too late.

On the following day Mr. Phillips was seized with one of his spasmodic fits of reform and announced before going home to dinner, that he should expect to find all the scholars in their seats when he returned. Anyone who came in late would be punished.

All the boys and some of the girls went to Mr. Bell’s spruce grove as usual, fully intending to stay only long enough to “pick a chew.” But spruce groves are seductive and yellow nuts of gum beguiling; they picked and loitered and strayed; and as usual the first thing that recalled them to a sense of the flight of time was Jimmy Glover shouting from the top of a patriarchal old spruce “Master’s coming.”

The girls who were on the ground, started first and managed to reach the schoolhouse in time but without a second to spare. The boys, who had to wriggle hastily down from the trees, were later; and Anne, who had not been picking gum at all but was wandering happily in the far end of the grove, waist deep among the bracken, singing softly to herself, with a wreath of rice lilies on her hair as if she were some wild divinity of the shadowy places, was latest of all. Anne could run like a deer, however; run she did with the impish result that she overtook the boys at the door and was swept into the schoolhouse among them just as Mr. Phillips was in the act of hanging up his hat.

Mr. Phillips’s brief reforming energy was over; he didn’t want the bother of punishing a dozen pupils; but it was necessary to do something to save his word, so he looked about for a scapegoat and found it in Anne, who had dropped into her seat, gasping for breath, with a forgotten lily wreath hanging askew over one ear and giving her a particularly rakish and disheveled appearance.

“Anne Shirley, since you seem to be so fond of the boys’ company we shall indulge your taste for it this afternoon,” he said sarcastically. “Take those flowers out of your hair and sit with Gilbert Blythe.”

The other boys snickered. Diana, turning pale with pity, plucked the wreath from Anne’s hair and squeezed her hand. Anne stared at the master as if turned to stone.

“Did you hear what I said, Anne?” queried Mr. Phillips sternly.

“Yes, sir,” said Anne slowly “but I didn’t suppose you really meant it.”

“I assure you I did”—still with the sarcastic inflection which all the children, and Anne especially, hated. It flicked on the raw. “Obey me at once.”

For a moment Anne looked as if she meant to disobey. Then, realizing that there was no help for it, she rose haughtily, stepped across the aisle, sat down beside Gilbert Blythe, and buried her face in her arms on the desk. Ruby Gillis, who got a glimpse of it as it went down, told the others going home from school that she’d “acksually never seen anything like it—it was so white, with awful little red spots in it.”

To Anne, this was as the end of all things. It was bad enough to be singled out for punishment from among a dozen equally guilty ones; it was worse still to be sent to sit with a boy, but that that boy should be Gilbert Blythe was heaping insult on injury to a degree utterly unbearable. Anne felt that she could not bear it and it would be of no use to try. Her whole being seethed with shame and anger and humiliation.

At first the other scholars looked and whispered and giggled and nudged. But as Anne never lifted her head and as Gilbert worked fractions as if his whole soul was absorbed in them and them only, they soon returned to their own tasks and Anne was forgotten. When Mr. Phillips called the history class out Anne should have gone, but Anne did not move, and Mr. Phillips, who had been writing some verses “To Priscilla” before he called the class, was thinking about an obstinate rhyme still and never missed her. Once, when nobody was looking, Gilbert took from his desk a little pink candy heart with a gold motto on it, “You are sweet,” and slipped it under the curve of Anne’s arm. Whereupon Anne arose, took the pink heart gingerly between the tips of her fingers, dropped it on the floor, ground it to powder beneath her heel, and resumed her position without deigning to bestow a glance on Gilbert.

When school went out Anne marched to her desk, ostentatiously took out everything therein, books and writing tablet, pen and ink, testament and arithmetic, and piled them neatly on her cracked slate.

“What are you taking all those things home for, Anne?” Diana wanted to know, as soon as they were out on the road. She had not dared to ask the question before.

“I am not coming back to school any more,” said Anne. Diana gasped and stared at Anne to see if she meant it.

“Will Marilla let you stay home?” she asked.

“She’ll have to,” said Anne. “I’ll never go to school to that man again.”

“Oh, Anne!” Diana looked as if she were ready to cry. “I do think you’re mean. What shall I do? Mr. Phillips will make me sit with that horrid Gertie Pye—I know he will because she is sitting alone. Do come back, Anne.”

“I’d do almost anything in the world for you, Diana,” said Anne sadly. “I’d let myself be torn limb from limb if it would do you any good. But I can’t do this, so please don’t ask it. You harrow up my very soul.”

“Just think of all the fun you will miss,” mourned Diana. “We are going to build the loveliest new house down by the brook; and we’ll be playing ball next week and you’ve never played ball, Anne. It’s tremendously exciting. And we’re going to learn a new song—Jane Andrews is practicing it up now; and Alice Andrews is going to bring a new Pansy book next week and we’re all going to read it out loud, chapter about, down by the brook. And you know you are so fond of reading out loud, Anne.”

Nothing moved Anne in the least. Her mind was made up. She would not go to school to Mr. Phillips again; she told Marilla so when she got home.

“Nonsense,” said Marilla.

“It isn’t nonsense at all,” said Anne, gazing at Marilla with solemn, reproachful eyes. “Don’t you understand, Marilla? I’ve been insulted.”

“Insulted fiddlesticks! You’ll go to school tomorrow as usual.”

“Oh, no.” Anne shook her head gently. “I’m not going back, Marilla. I’ll learn my lessons at home and I’ll be as good as I can be and hold my tongue all the time if it’s possible at all. But I will not go back to school, I assure you.”

Marilla saw something remarkably like unyielding stubbornness looking out of Anne’s small face. She understood that she would have trouble in overcoming it; but she re-solved wisely to say nothing more just then. “I’ll run down and see Rachel about it this evening,” she thought. “There’s no use reasoning with Anne now. She’s too worked up and I’ve an idea she can be awful stubborn if she takes the notion. Far as I can make out from her story, Mr. Phillips has been carrying matters with a rather high hand. But it would never do to say so to her. I’ll just talk it over with Rachel. She’s sent ten children to school and she ought to know something about it. She’ll have heard the whole story, too, by this time.”

Marilla found Mrs. Lynde knitting quilts as industriously and cheerfully as usual.

“I suppose you know what I’ve come about,” she said, a little shamefacedly.

Mrs. Rachel nodded.

“About Anne’s fuss in school, I reckon,” she said. “Tillie Boulter was in on her way home from school and told me about it.”

“I don’t know what to do with her,” said Marilla. “She declares she won’t go back to school. I never saw a child so worked up. I’ve been expecting trouble ever since she started to school. I knew things were going too smooth to last. She’s so high strung. What would you advise, Rachel?”

“Well, since you’ve asked my advice, Marilla,” said Mrs. Lynde amiably—Mrs. Lynde dearly loved to be asked for advice—“I’d just humor her a little at first, that’s what I’d do. It’s my belief that Mr. Phillips was in the wrong. Of course, it doesn’t do to say so to the children, you know. And of course he did right to punish her yesterday for giving way to temper. But today it was different. The others who were late should have been punished as well as Anne, that’s what. And I don’t believe in making the girls sit with the boys for punishment. It isn’t modest. Tillie Boulter was real indignant. She took Anne’s part right through and said all the scholars did too. Anne seems real popular among them, somehow. I never thought she’d take with them so well.”

“Then you really think I’d better let her stay home,” said Marilla in amazement.

“Yes. That is I wouldn’t say school to her again until she said it herself. Depend upon it, Marilla, she’ll cool off in a week or so and be ready enough to go back of her own accord, that’s what, while, if you were to make her go back right off, dear knows what freak or tantrum she’d take next and make more trouble than ever. The less fuss made the better, in my opinion. She won’t miss much by not going to school, as far as that goes. Mr. Phillips isn’t any good at all as a teacher. The order he keeps is scandalous, that’s what, and he neglects the young fry and puts all his time on those big scholars he’s getting ready for Queen’s. He’d never have got the school for another year if his uncle hadn’t been a trustee—the trustee, for he just leads the other two around by the nose, that’s what. I declare, I don’t know what education in this Island is coming to.”

Mrs. Rachel shook her head, as much as to say if she were only at the head of the educational system of the Province things would be much better managed.

Marilla took Mrs. Rachel’s advice and not another word was said to Anne about going back to school. She learned her lessons at home, did her chores, and played with Diana in the chilly purple autumn twilights; but when she met Gilbert Blythe on the road or encountered him in Sunday school she passed him by with an icy contempt that was no whit thawed by his evident desire to appease her. Even Diana’s efforts as a peacemaker were of no avail. Anne had evidently made up her mind to hate Gilbert Blythe to the end of life.

As much as she hated Gilbert, however, did she love Diana, with all the love of her passionate little heart, equally intense in its likes and dislikes. One evening Marilla, coming in from the orchard with a basket of apples, found Anne sitting along by the east window in the twilight, crying bitterly.

“Whatever’s the matter now, Anne?” she asked.

“It’s about Diana,” sobbed Anne luxuriously. “I love Diana so, Marilla. I cannot ever live without her. But I know very well when we grow up that Diana will get married and go away and leave me. And oh, what shall I do? I hate her husband—I just hate him furiously. I’ve been imagining it all out—the wedding and everything—Diana dressed in snowy garments, with a veil, and looking as beautiful and regal as a queen; and me the bridesmaid, with a lovely dress too, and puffed sleeves, but with a breaking heart hid beneath my smiling face. And then bidding Diana goodbye-e-e—” Here Anne broke down entirely and wept with increasing bitterness.

Marilla turned quickly away to hide her twitching face; but it was no use; she collapsed on the nearest chair and burst into such a hearty and unusual peal of laughter that Matthew, crossing the yard outside, halted in amazement. When had he heard Marilla laugh like that before?

“Well, Anne Shirley,” said Marilla as soon as she could speak, “if you must borrow trouble, for pity’s sake borrow it handier home. I should think you had an imagination, sure enough.”