Anne of Green Gables

by: L. M. Montgomery

Chapter XVII

Full text Chapter XVII

Chapter XVII

A New Interest in Life


THE next afternoon
Anne, bending over her patchwork at the kitchen window, happened to glance
out and beheld Diana down by the Dryad's Bubble beckoning mysteriously. In
a trice Anne was out of the house and flying down to the hollow,
astonishment and hope struggling in her expressive eyes. But the hope
faded when she saw Diana's dejected countenance.


"Your mother hasn't relented?" she gasped.


Diana shook her head mournfully.


"No; and oh, Anne, she says I'm never to play with you again. I've cried
and cried and I told her it wasn't your fault, but it wasn't any use. I
had ever such a time coaxing her to let me come down and say good-bye to
you. She said I was only to stay ten minutes and she's timing me by the
clock."


"Ten minutes isn't very long to say an eternal farewell in," said Anne
tearfully. "Oh, Diana, will you promise faithfully never to forget me, the
friend of your youth, no matter what dearer friends may caress thee?"


"Indeed I will," sobbed Diana, "and I'll never have another bosom friend—I
don't want to have. I couldn't love anybody as I love you."


"Oh, Diana," cried Anne, clasping her hands, "do you love me?"


"Why, of course I do. Didn't you know that?"


"No." Anne drew a long breath. "I thought you liked me of course
but I never hoped you loved me. Why, Diana, I didn't think anybody
could love me. Nobody ever has loved me since I can remember. Oh, this is
wonderful! It's a ray of light which will forever shine on the darkness of
a path severed from thee, Diana. Oh, just say it once again."


"I love you devotedly, Anne," said Diana stanchly, "and I always will, you
may be sure of that."


"And I will always love thee, Diana," said Anne, solemnly extending her
hand. "In the years to come thy memory will shine like a star over my
lonely life, as that last story we read together says. Diana, wilt thou
give me a lock of thy jet-black tresses in parting to treasure
forevermore?"


"Have you got anything to cut it with?" queried Diana, wiping away the
tears which Anne's affecting accents had caused to flow afresh, and
returning to practicalities.


"Yes. I've got my patchwork scissors in my apron pocket fortunately," said
Anne. She solemnly clipped one of Diana's curls. "Fare thee well, my
beloved friend. Henceforth we must be as strangers though living side by
side. But my heart will ever be faithful to thee."


Anne stood and watched Diana out of sight, mournfully waving her hand to
the latter whenever she turned to look back. Then she returned to the
house, not a little consoled for the time being by this romantic parting.


"It is all over," she informed Marilla. "I shall never have another
friend. I'm really worse off than ever before, for I haven't Katie Maurice
and Violetta now. And even if I had it wouldn't be the same. Somehow,
little dream girls are not satisfying after a real friend. Diana and I had
such an affecting farewell down by the spring. It will be sacred in my
memory forever. I used the most pathetic language I could think of and
said 'thou' and 'thee.' 'Thou' and 'thee' seem so much more romantic than
'you.' Diana gave me a lock of her hair and I'm going to sew it up in a
little bag and wear it around my neck all my life. Please see that it is
buried with me, for I don't believe I'll live very long. Perhaps when she
sees me lying cold and dead before her Mrs. Barry may feel remorse for
what she has done and will let Diana come to my funeral."


"I don't think there is much fear of your dying of grief as long as you
can talk, Anne," said Marilla unsympathetically.


The following Monday Anne surprised Marilla by coming down from her room
with her basket of books on her arm and hip and her lips primmed up into a
line of determination.


"I'm going back to school," she announced. "That is all there is left in
life for me, now that my friend has been ruthlessly torn from me. In
school I can look at her and muse over days departed."


"You'd better muse over your lessons and sums," said Marilla, concealing
her delight at this development of the situation. "If you're going back to
school I hope we'll hear no more of breaking slates over people's heads
and such carryings on. Behave yourself and do just what your teacher tells
you."


"I'll try to be a model pupil," agreed Anne dolefully. "There won't be
much fun in it, I expect. Mr. Phillips said Minnie Andrews was a model
pupil and there isn't a spark of imagination or life in her. She is just
dull and poky and never seems to have a good time. But I feel so depressed
that perhaps it will come easy to me now. I'm going round by the road. I
couldn't bear to go by the Birch Path all alone. I should weep bitter
tears if I did."


Anne was welcomed back to school with open arms. Her imagination had been
sorely missed in games, her voice in the singing and her dramatic ability
in the perusal aloud of books at dinner hour. Ruby Gillis smuggled three
blue plums over to her during testament reading; Ella May MacPherson gave
her an enormous yellow pansy cut from the covers of a floral catalogue—a
species of desk decoration much prized in Avonlea school. Sophia Sloane
offered to teach her a perfectly elegant new pattern of knit lace, so nice
for trimming aprons. Katie Boulter gave her a perfume bottle to keep slate
water in, and Julia Bell copied carefully on a piece of pale pink paper
scalloped on the edges the following effusion:


"It's so nice to be appreciated," sighed Anne rapturously to Marilla that
night.


The girls were not the only scholars who "appreciated" her. When Anne went
to her seat after dinner hour—she had been told by Mr. Phillips to
sit with the model Minnie Andrews—she found on her desk a big
luscious "strawberry apple." Anne caught it up all ready to take a bite
when she remembered that the only place in Avonlea where strawberry apples
grew was in the old Blythe orchard on the other side of the Lake of
Shining Waters. Anne dropped the apple as if it were a red-hot coal and
ostentatiously wiped her fingers on her handkerchief. The apple lay
untouched on her desk until the next morning, when little Timothy Andrews,
who swept the school and kindled the fire, annexed it as one of his
perquisites. Charlie Sloane's slate pencil, gorgeously bedizened with
striped red and yellow paper, costing two cents where ordinary pencils
cost only one, which he sent up to her after dinner hour, met with a more
favorable reception. Anne was graciously pleased to accept it and rewarded
the donor with a smile which exalted that infatuated youth straightway
into the seventh heaven of delight and caused him to make such fearful
errors in his dictation that Mr. Phillips kept him in after school to
rewrite it.


But as,


so the marked absence of any tribute or recognition from Diana Barry who
was sitting with Gertie Pye embittered Anne's little triumph.


"Diana might just have smiled at me once, I think," she mourned to Marilla
that night. But the next morning a note most fearfully and wonderfully
twisted and folded, and a small parcel were passed across to Anne.


Dear Anne (ran the former)


Mother says I'm not to play with you or talk to you even in school. It
isn't my fault and don't be cross at me, because I love you as much as
ever. I miss you awfully to tell all my secrets to and I don't like Gertie
Pye one bit. I made you one of the new bookmarkers out of red tissue
paper. They are awfully fashionable now and only three girls in school
know how to make them. When you look at it remember


Your true friend


Diana Barry.


Anne read the note, kissed the bookmark, and dispatched a prompt reply
back to the other side of the school.


My own darling Diana:—


Of course I am not cross at you because you have to obey your mother. Our
spirits can commune. I shall keep your lovely present forever. Minnie
Andrews is a very nice little girl—although she has no imagination—but
after having been Diana's busum friend I cannot be Minnie's. Please excuse
mistakes because my spelling isn't very good yet, although much improoved.


Yours until death us do part


Anne or Cordelia Shirley.


P.S. I shall sleep with your letter under my pillow tonight. A. or
C.S.


Marilla pessimistically expected more trouble since Anne had again begun
to go to school. But none developed. Perhaps Anne caught something of the
"model" spirit from Minnie Andrews; at least she got on very well with Mr.
Phillips thenceforth. She flung herself into her studies heart and soul,
determined not to be outdone in any class by Gilbert Blythe. The rivalry
between them was soon apparent; it was entirely good natured on Gilbert's
side; but it is much to be feared that the same thing cannot be said of
Anne, who had certainly an unpraiseworthy tenacity for holding grudges.
She was as intense in her hatreds as in her loves. She would not stoop to
admit that she meant to rival Gilbert in schoolwork, because that would
have been to acknowledge his existence which Anne persistently ignored;
but the rivalry was there and honors fluctuated between them. Now Gilbert
was head of the spelling class; now Anne, with a toss of her long red
braids, spelled him down. One morning Gilbert had all his sums done
correctly and had his name written on the blackboard on the roll of honor;
the next morning Anne, having wrestled wildly with decimals the entire
evening before, would be first. One awful day they were ties and their
names were written up together. It was almost as bad as a take-notice and
Anne's mortification was as evident as Gilbert's satisfaction. When the
written examinations at the end of each month were held the suspense was
terrible. The first month Gilbert came out three marks ahead. The second
Anne beat him by five. But her triumph was marred by the fact that Gilbert
congratulated her heartily before the whole school. It would have been
ever so much sweeter to her if he had felt the sting of his defeat.


Mr. Phillips might not be a very good teacher; but a pupil so inflexibly
determined on learning as Anne was could hardly escape making progress
under any kind of teacher. By the end of the term Anne and Gilbert were
both promoted into the fifth class and allowed to begin studying the
elements of "the branches"—by which Latin, geometry, French, and
algebra were meant. In geometry Anne met her Waterloo.


"It's perfectly awful stuff, Marilla," she groaned. "I'm sure I'll never
be able to make head or tail of it. There is no scope for imagination in
it at all. Mr. Phillips says I'm the worst dunce he ever saw at it. And
Gil—I mean some of the others are so smart at it. It is extremely
mortifying, Marilla.


"Even Diana gets along better than I do. But I don't mind being beaten by
Diana. Even although we meet as strangers now I still love her with an inextinguishable
love. It makes me very sad at times to think about her. But really,
Marilla, one can't stay sad very long in such an interesting world, can
one?"