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On a beautiful September evening, Anne is bringing the cows back from the pasture when she runs into Diana, who has exciting news: Aunt Josephine has invited the two girls to her mansion in Charlottetown to see an exhibition, an event similar to a fair. The girls go to Aunt Josephine’s estate, called Beechwood, and they relish their drive. The house is richly decorated, with silk curtains, velvet carpets, and a spare bedroom specially made up for them. Anne finds that these luxuries, which she has dreamed about and yearned for, are actually disappointing and alienating in real life. She reflects later to Marilla that part of growing up is realizing that “[t]he things you wanted so much when you were a child don’t seem half so wonderful to you when you get them.”
The exhibition is exciting, with its displays of knitted lace, flowers, vegetables, and horseracing. Afterward, when Anne laments that she will have difficulty returning to normal life, Aunt Josephine offers to take the girls to a fancy restaurant for ice cream at eleven P.M. This restaurant visit comes to represent the excitement of city life to Anne. Upon returning home, Anne decides she would rather be sleeping in bed at Green Gables than gallivanting around a city.
One night Marilla rests after another one of her eye aches, which occur with increasing frequency and severity. She looks at Anne with an expression of fondness that she would never permit herself to show in the daylight when she could be seen. Because of Marilla’s tendency to veil her affection, Anne does not know, we are told, that Marilla loves her so much. Marilla tells Anne that Miss Stacy visited that afternoon, and Anne, assuming Miss Stacy told Marilla about her recent misbehavior, quickly admits to sneaking a novel into class when she should have been studying. Anne also tells Marilla that she and Diana have been talking about serious subjects like the future and that they are thinking of becoming old maids and living together. Anne explains that Miss Stacy told the girls they must cultivate sound characters now, because once they reach their twenties the foundations of their characters will be set for life.
Marilla tells Anne that Miss Stacy has invited Anne to join a group of advanced scholars who will study every day after school to prepare for the entrance exam to Queen’s Academy in a year and a half. Marilla says that every woman should be able to support herself and that teaching is a good profession for a woman. Anne hesitates to accept the offer to attend college because she worries that the cost of college will be too high for the Cuthberts. However, after Marilla says that Anne’s education is worth the cost, Anne expresses excitement.
The other students in the advanced class are Gilbert Blythe, Ruby Gillis, Jane Andrews, Josie Pye, Charlie Sloane, and Moody Spurgeon MacPherson. They study for an hour every day, but begin to lose their drive when spring comes and the other students leave school early every day. For the first time since Minnie May was sick, Anne and Diana are separated, since the Barrys do not intend to send Diana to college.
The rivalry between Gilbert and Anne rekindles. Gilbert decides to treat Anne just as coldly as she treats him. This icy treatment distresses Anne, but she acts unconcerned. She realizes that she no longer feels angry with Gilbert, and she regrets causing tension.