Anne of Green Gables

by: L. M. Montgomery

Chapter XXXV

Full text Chapter XXXV

Chapter XXXV

The Winter at Queen'S


ANNE'S homesickness
wore off, greatly helped in the wearing by her weekend visits home. As
long as the open weather lasted the Avonlea students went out to Carmody
on the new branch railway every Friday night. Diana and several other
Avonlea young folks were generally on hand to meet them and they all
walked over to Avonlea in a merry party. Anne thought those Friday evening
gypsyings over the autumnal hills in the crisp golden air, with the
homelights of Avonlea twinkling beyond, were the best and dearest hours in
the whole week.


Gilbert Blythe nearly always walked with Ruby Gillis and carried her
satchel for her. Ruby was a very handsome young lady, now thinking herself
quite as grown up as she really was; she wore her skirts as long as her
mother would let her and did her hair up in town, though she had to take
it down when she went home. She had large, bright-blue eyes, a brilliant
complexion, and a plump showy figure. She laughed a great deal, was
cheerful and good-tempered, and enjoyed the pleasant things of life
frankly.


"But I shouldn't think she was the sort of girl Gilbert would like,"
whispered Jane to Anne. Anne did not think so either, but she would not
have said so for the Avery scholarship. She could not help thinking, too,
that it would be very pleasant to have such a friend as Gilbert to jest
and chatter with and exchange ideas about books and studies and ambitions.
Gilbert had ambitions, she knew, and Ruby Gillis did not seem the sort of
person with whom such could be profitably discussed.


There was no silly sentiment in Anne's ideas concerning Gilbert. Boys were
to her, when she thought about them at all, merely possible good comrades.
If she and Gilbert had been friends she would not have cared how many
other friends he had nor with whom he walked. She had a genius for
friendship; girl friends she had in plenty; but she had a vague
consciousness that masculine friendship might also be a good thing to
round out one's conceptions of companionship and furnish broader
standpoints of judgment and comparison. Not that Anne could have put her
feelings on the matter into just such clear definition. But she thought
that if Gilbert had ever walked home with her from the train, over the
crisp fields and along the ferny byways, they might have had many and
merry and interesting conversations about the new world that was opening
around them and their hopes and ambitions therein. Gilbert was a clever
young fellow, with his own thoughts about things and a determination to
get the best out of life and put the best into it. Ruby Gillis told Jane
Andrews that she didn't understand half the things Gilbert Blythe said; he
talked just like Anne Shirley did when she had a thoughtful fit on and for
her part she didn't think it any fun to be bothering about books and that
sort of thing when you didn't have to. Frank Stockley had lots more dash
and go, but then he wasn't half as good-looking as Gilbert and she really
couldn't decide which she liked best!


In the Academy Anne gradually drew a little circle of friends about her,
thoughtful, imaginative, ambitious students like herself. With the
"rose-red" girl, Stella Maynard, and the "dream girl," Priscilla Grant,
she soon became intimate, finding the latter pale spiritual-looking maiden
to be full to the brim of mischief and pranks and fun, while the vivid,
black-eyed Stella had a heartful of wistful dreams and fancies, as aerial
and rainbow-like as Anne's own.


After the Christmas holidays the Avonlea students gave up going home on
Fridays and settled down to hard work. By this time all the Queen's
scholars had gravitated into their own places in the ranks and the various
classes had assumed distinct and settled shadings of individuality.
Certain facts had become generally accepted. It was admitted that the
medal contestants had practically narrowed down to three—Gilbert
Blythe, Anne Shirley, and Lewis Wilson; the Avery scholarship was more
doubtful, any one of a certain six being a possible winner. The bronze
medal for mathematics was considered as good as won by a fat, funny little
up-country boy with a bumpy forehead and a patched coat.


Ruby Gillis was the handsomest girl of the year at the Academy; in the
Second Year classes Stella Maynard carried off the palm for beauty, with
small but critical minority in favor of Anne Shirley. Ethel Marr was
admitted by all competent judges to have the most stylish modes of
hair-dressing, and Jane Andrews—plain, plodding, conscientious Jane—carried
off the honors in the domestic science course. Even Josie Pye attained a
certain preeminence as the sharpest-tongued young lady in attendance at
Queen's. So it may be fairly stated that Miss Stacy's old pupils held
their own in the wider arena of the academical course.


Anne worked hard and steadily. Her rivalry with Gilbert was as intense as
it had ever been in Avonlea school, although it was not known in the class
at large, but somehow the bitterness had gone out of it. Anne no longer
wished to win for the sake of defeating Gilbert; rather, for the proud
consciousness of a well-won victory over a worthy foeman. It would be
worth while to win, but she no longer thought life would be insupportable
if she did not.


In spite of lessons the students found opportunities for pleasant times.
Anne spent many of her spare hours at Beechwood and generally ate her
Sunday dinners there and went to church with Miss Barry. The latter was,
as she admitted, growing old, but her black eyes were not dim nor the
vigor of her tongue in the least abated. But she never sharpened the
latter on Anne, who continued to be a prime favorite with the critical old
lady.


"That Anne-girl improves all the time," she said. "I get tired of other
girls—there is such a provoking and eternal sameness about them.
Anne has as many shades as a rainbow and every shade is the prettiest
while it lasts. I don't know that she is as amusing as she was when she
was a child, but she makes me love her and I like people who make me love
them. It saves me so much trouble in making myself love them."


Then, almost before anybody realized it, spring had come; out in Avonlea
the Mayflowers were peeping pinkly out on the sere barrens where
snow-wreaths lingered; and the "mist of green" was on the woods and in the
valleys. But in Charlottetown harassed Queen's students thought and talked
only of examinations.


"It doesn't seem possible that the term is nearly over," said Anne. "Why,
last fall it seemed so long to look forward to—a whole winter of
studies and classes. And here we are, with the exams looming up next week.
Girls, sometimes I feel as if those exams meant everything, but when I
look at the big buds swelling on those chestnut trees and the misty blue
air at the end of the streets they don't seem half so important."


Jane and Ruby and Josie, who had dropped in, did not take this view of it.
To them the coming examinations were constantly very important indeed—far
more important than chestnut buds or Maytime hazes. It was all very well
for Anne, who was sure of passing at least, to have her moments of
belittling them, but when your whole future depended on them—as the
girls truly thought theirs did—you could not regard them
philosophically.


"I've lost seven pounds in the last two weeks," sighed Jane. "It's no use
to say don't worry. I will worry. Worrying helps you some—it
seems as if you were doing something when you're worrying. It would be
dreadful if I failed to get my license after going to Queen's all winter
and spending so much money."


"I don't care," said Josie Pye. "If I don't pass this year I'm
coming back next. My father can afford to send me. Anne, Frank Stockley
says that Professor Tremaine said Gilbert Blythe was sure to get the medal
and that Emily Clay would likely win the Avery scholarship."


"That may make me feel badly tomorrow, Josie," laughed Anne, "but just now
I honestly feel that as long as I know the violets are coming out all
purple down in the hollow below Green Gables and that little ferns are
poking their heads up in Lovers' Lane, it's not a great deal of difference
whether I win the Avery or not. I've done my best and I begin to
understand what is meant by the 'joy of the strife.' Next to trying and
winning, the best thing is trying and failing. Girls, don't talk about
exams! Look at that arch of pale green sky over those houses and picture
to yourself what it must look like over the purply-dark beech-woods back
of Avonlea."


"What are you going to wear for commencement, Jane?" asked Ruby
practically.


Jane and Josie both answered at once and the chatter drifted into a side
eddy of fashions. But Anne, with her elbows on the window sill, her soft
cheek laid against her clasped hands, and her eyes filled with visions,
looked out unheedingly across city roof and spire to that glorious dome of
sunset sky and wove her dreams of a possible future from the golden tissue
of youth's own optimism. All the Beyond was hers with its possibilities
lurking rosily in the oncoming years—each year a rose of promise to
be woven into an immortal chaplet.