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??? 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:


When twilight drops her curtain down
And pins it with a star
Remember that you have a friend
Though she may wander far.


"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,


The Caesar's pageant shorn of Brutus' bust
Did but of Rome's best son remind her more.


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?"




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