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Chapter XXIV


CHAPTER XXIV

Miss Stacy and Her Pupils Get Up a Concert


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 it."

"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 it."

"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 nonsense.

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 foolishness.

"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
distinguish herself?"

"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.

Lucy Maud Montgomery