IT was October
again when Anne was ready to go back to school—a glorious October,
all red and gold, with mellow mornings when the valleys were filled with
delicate mists as if the spirit of autumn had poured them in for the sun
to drain—amethyst, pearl, silver, rose, and smoke-blue. The dews
were so heavy that the fields glistened like cloth of silver and there
were such heaps of rustling leaves in the hollows of many-stemmed woods to
run crisply through. The Birch Path was a canopy of yellow and the ferns
were sear and brown all along it. There was a tang in the very air that
inspired the hearts of small maidens tripping, unlike snails, swiftly and
willingly to school; and it was jolly to be back again at the
little brown desk beside Diana, with Ruby Gillis nodding across the aisle
and Carrie Sloane sending up notes and Julia Bell passing a "chew" of gum
down from the back seat. Anne drew a long breath of happiness as she
sharpened her pencil and arranged her picture cards in her desk. Life was
certainly very interesting.
In the new teacher she found another true and helpful friend. Miss Stacy
was a bright, sympathetic young woman with the happy gift of winning and
holding the affections of her pupils and bringing out the best that was in
them mentally and morally. Anne expanded like a flower under this
wholesome influence and carried home to the admiring Matthew and the
critical Marilla glowing accounts of schoolwork and aims.
"I love Miss Stacy with my whole heart, Marilla. She is so ladylike and
she has such a sweet voice. When she pronounces my name I feel instinctively
that she's spelling it with an E. We had recitations this afternoon. I
just wish you could have been there to hear me recite 'Mary, Queen of
Scots.' I just put my whole soul into it. Ruby Gillis told me coming home
that the way I said the line, 'Now for my father's arm,' she said, 'my
woman's heart farewell,' just made her blood run cold."
"Well now, you might recite it for me some of these days, out in the
barn," suggested Matthew.
"Of course I will," said Anne meditatively, "but I won't be able to do it
so well, I know. It won't be so exciting as it is when you have a whole
schoolful before you hanging breathlessly on your words. I know I won't be
able to make your blood run cold."
"Mrs. Lynde says it made her blood run cold to see the boys
climbing to the very tops of those big trees on Bell's hill after crows'
nests last Friday," said Marilla. "I wonder at Miss Stacy for encouraging
"But we wanted a crow's nest for nature study," explained Anne. "That was
on our field afternoon. Field afternoons are splendid, Marilla. And Miss
Stacy explains everything so beautifully. We have to write compositions on
our field afternoons and I write the best ones."
"It's very vain of you to say so then. You'd better let your teacher say
"But she did say it, Marilla. And indeed I'm not vain about it. How
can I be, when I'm such a dunce at geometry? Although I'm really beginning
to see through it a little, too. Miss Stacy makes it so clear. Still, I'll
never be good at it and I assure you it is a humbling reflection. But I
love writing compositions. Mostly Miss Stacy lets us choose our own
subjects; but next week we are to write a composition on some remarkable
person. It's hard to choose among so many remarkable people who have
lived. Mustn't it be splendid to be remarkable and have compositions
written about you after you're dead? Oh, I would dearly love to be
remarkable. I think when I grow up I'll be a trained nurse and go with the
Red Crosses to the field of battle as a messenger of mercy. That is, if I
don't go out as a foreign missionary. That would be very romantic, but one
would have to be very good to be a missionary, and that would be a
stumbling block. We have physical culture exercises every day, too. They
make you graceful and promote digestion."
"Promote fiddlesticks!" said Marilla, who honestly thought it was all
But all the field afternoons and recitation Fridays and physical culture
contortions paled before a project which Miss Stacy brought forward in
November. This was that the scholars of Avonlea school should get up a
concert and hold it in the hall on Christmas Night, for the laudable
purpose of helping to pay for a schoolhouse flag. The pupils one and all
taking graciously to this plan, the preparations for a program were begun
at once. And of all the excited performers-elect none was so excited as
Anne Shirley, who threw herself into the undertaking heart and soul,
hampered as she was by Marilla's disapproval. Marilla thought it all rank
"It's just filling your heads up with nonsense and taking time that ought
to be put on your lessons," she grumbled. "I don't approve of children's
getting up concerts and racing about to practices. It makes them vain and
forward and fond of gadding."
"But think of the worthy object," pleaded Anne. "A flag will cultivate a
spirit of patriotism, Marilla."
"Fudge! There's precious little patriotism in the thoughts of any of you.
All you want is a good time."
"Well, when you can combine patriotism and fun, isn't it all right? Of
course it's real nice to be getting up a concert. We're going to have six
choruses and Diana is to sing a solo. I'm in two dialogues—'The
Society for the Suppression of Gossip' and 'The Fairy Queen.' The boys are
going to have a dialogue too. And I'm to have two recitations, Marilla. I
just tremble when I think of it, but it's a nice thrilly kind of tremble.
And we're to have a tableau at the last—'Faith, Hope and Charity.'
Diana and Ruby and I are to be in it, all draped in white with flowing
hair. I'm to be Hope, with my hands clasped—so—and my eyes
uplifted. I'm going to practice my recitations in the garret. Don't be
alarmed if you hear me groaning. I have to groan heartrendingly in one of
them, and it's really hard to get up a good artistic groan, Marilla. Josie
Pye is sulky because she didn't get the part she wanted in the dialogue.
She wanted to be the fairy queen. That would have been ridiculous, for who
ever heard of a fairy queen as fat as Josie? Fairy queens must be slender.
Jane Andrews is to be the queen and I am to be one of her maids of honor.
Josie says she thinks a red-haired fairy is just as ridiculous as a fat
one, but I do not let myself mind what Josie says. I'm to have a wreath of
white roses on my hair and Ruby Gillis is going to lend me her slippers
because I haven't any of my own. It's necessary for fairies to have
slippers, you know. You couldn't imagine a fairy wearing boots, could you?
Especially with copper toes? We are going to decorate the hall with
creeping spruce and fir mottoes with pink tissue-paper roses in them. And
we are all to march in two by two after the audience is seated, while Emma
White plays a march on the organ. Oh, Marilla, I know you are not so
enthusiastic about it as I am, but don't you hope your little Anne will
"All I hope is that you'll behave yourself. I'll be heartily glad when all
this fuss is over and you'll be able to settle down. You are simply good
for nothing just now with your head stuffed full of dialogues and groans
and tableaus. As for your tongue, it's a marvel it's not clean worn out."
Anne sighed and betook herself to the back yard, over which a young new
moon was shining through the leafless poplar boughs from an apple-green
western sky, and where Matthew was splitting wood. Anne perched herself on
a block and talked the concert over with him, sure of an appreciative and
sympathetic listener in this instance at least.
"Well now, I reckon it's going to be a pretty good concert. And I expect
you'll do your part fine," he said, smiling down into her eager, vivacious
little face. Anne smiled back at him. Those two were the best of friends
and Matthew thanked his stars many a time and oft that he had nothing to
do with bringing her up. That was Marilla's exclusive duty; if it had been
his he would have been worried over frequent conflicts between inclination
and said duty. As it was, he was free to, "spoil Anne"—Marilla's
phrasing—as much as he liked. But it was not such a bad arrangement
after all; a little "appreciation" sometimes does quite as much good as
all the conscientious "bringing up" in the world.