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With the end of June came the close of the term and the close of
Miss Stacy's rule in Avonlea school. Anne and Diana walked home that
evening feeling very sober indeed. Red eyes and damp handkerchiefs
bore convincing testimony to the fact that Miss Stacy's farewell words
must have been quite as touching as Mr. Phillips's had been under
similar circumstances three years before. Diana looked back at the
schoolhouse from the foot of the spruce hill and sighed deeply.
"It does seem as if it was the end of everything, doesn't it?"
she said dismally.
"You oughtn't to feel half as badly as I do," said Anne, hunting
vainly for a dry spot on her handkerchief. "You'll be back again
next winter, but I suppose I've left the dear old school forever--
if I have good luck, that is."
"It won't be a bit the same. Miss Stacy won't be there, nor you
nor Jane nor Ruby probably. I shall have to sit all alone, for I
couldn't bear to have another deskmate after you. Oh, we have had
jolly times, haven't we, Anne? It's dreadful to think they're all over."
Two big tears rolled down by Diana's nose.
"If you would stop crying I could," said Anne imploringly. "Just
as soon as I put away my hanky I see you brimming up and that
starts me off again. As Mrs. Lynde says, `If you can't be cheerful,
be as cheerful as you can.' After all, I dare say I'll be back
next year. This is one of the times I KNOW I'm not going to pass.
They're getting alarmingly frequent."
"Why, you came out splendidly in the exams Miss Stacy gave."
"Yes, but those exams didn't make me nervous. When I think of
the real thing you can't imagine what a horrid cold fluttery
feeling comes round my heart. And then my number is thirteen and
Josie Pye says it's so unlucky. I am NOT superstitious and I know
it can make no difference. But still I wish it wasn't thirteen."
"I do wish I was going in with you," said Diana. "Wouldn't we
have a perfectly elegant time? But I suppose you'll have to cram
in the evenings."
"No; Miss Stacy has made us promise not to open a book at all.
She says it would only tire and confuse us and we are to go out
walking and not think about the exams at all and go to bed early.
It's good advice, but I expect it will be hard to follow; good
advice is apt to be, I think. Prissy Andrews told me that she
sat up half the night every night of her Entrance week and
crammed for dear life; and I had determined to sit up AT LEAST as
long as she did. It was so kind of your Aunt Josephine to ask me
to stay at Beechwood while I'm in town."
"You'll write to me while you're in, won't you?"
"I'll write Tuesday night and tell you how the first day goes,"
"I'll be haunting the post office Wednesday," vowed Diana.
Anne went to town the following Monday and on Wednesday Diana
haunted the post office, as agreed, and got her letter.
"Dearest Diana" [wrote Anne],
"Here it is Tuesday night and I'm writing this in the library at
Beechwood. Last night I was horribly lonesome all alone in my
room and wished so much you were with me. I couldn't "cram"
because I'd promised Miss Stacy not to, but it was as hard to
keep from opening my history as it used to be to keep from
reading a story before my lessons were learned.
"This morning Miss Stacy came for me and we went to the Academy,
calling for Jane and Ruby and Josie on our way. Ruby asked me to
feel her hands and they were as cold as ice. Josie said I looked
as if I hadn't slept a wink and she didn't believe I was strong
enough to stand the grind of the teacher's course even if I did get
through. There are times and seasons even yet when I don't feel
that I've made any great headway in learning to like Josie Pye!
"When we reached the Academy there were scores of students there
from all over the Island. The first person we saw was Moody
Spurgeon sitting on the steps and muttering away to himself.
Jane asked him what on earth he was doing and he said he was
repeating the multiplication table over and over to steady his
nerves and for pity's sake not to interrupt him, because if he
stopped for a moment he got frightened and forgot everything he
ever knew, but the multiplication table kept all his facts firmly
in their proper place!
"When we were assigned to our rooms Miss Stacy had to leave us.
Jane and I sat together and Jane was so composed that I envied her.
No need of the multiplication table for good, steady,
sensible Jane! I wondered if I looked as I felt and
if they could hear my heart thumping clear across the room.
Then a man came in and began distributing the English
examination sheets. My hands grew cold then and my head
fairly whirled around as I picked it up. Just one awful
moment--Diana, I felt exactly as I did four years ago when
I asked Marilla if I might stay at Green Gables--and then
everything cleared up in my mind and my heart began beating
again--I forgot to say that it had stopped altogether!--for
I knew I could do something with THAT paper anyhow.
"At noon we went home for dinner and then back again for history
in the afternoon. The history was a pretty hard paper and I got
dreadfully mixed up in the dates. Still, I think I did fairly
well today. But oh, Diana, tomorrow the geometry exam comes off
and when I think of it it takes every bit of determination I
possess to keep from opening my Euclid. If I thought the
multiplication table would help me any I would recite it
from now till tomorrow morning.
"I went down to see the other girls this evening. On my way I met
Moody Spurgeon wandering distractedly around. He said he knew he
had failed in history and he was born to be a disappointment to
his parents and he was going home on the morning train; and it
would be easier to be a carpenter than a minister, anyhow. I
cheered him up and persuaded him to stay to the end because it
would be unfair to Miss Stacy if he didn't. Sometimes I have
wished I was born a boy, but when I see Moody Spurgeon I'm always
glad I'm a girl and not his sister.
"Ruby was in hysterics when I reached their boardinghouse; she had
just discovered a fearful mistake she had made in her English
paper. When she recovered we went uptown and had an ice cream.
How we wished you had been with us.
"Oh, Diana, if only the geometry examination were over!
But there, as Mrs. Lynde would say, the sun will go on
rising and setting whether I fail in geometry or not.
That is true but not especially comforting. I think I'd
rather it didn't go on if I failed!
The geometry examination and all the others were over in due time
and Anne arrived home on Friday evening, rather tired but with an
air of chastened triumph about her. Diana was over at Green Gables
when she arrived and they met as if they had been parted for years.
"You old darling, it's perfectly splendid to see you back again.
It seems like an age since you went to town and oh, Anne, how did
you get along?"
"Pretty well, I think, in everything but the geometry. I don't
know whether I passed in it or not and I have a creepy, crawly
presentiment that I didn't. Oh, how good it is to be back! Green
Gables is the dearest, loveliest spot in the world."
"How did the others do?"
"The girls say they know they didn't pass, but I think they did
pretty well. Josie says the geometry was so easy a child of ten
could do it! Moody Spurgeon still thinks he failed in history
and Charlie says he failed in algebra. But we don't really know
anything about it and won't until the pass list is out. That won't
be for a fortnight. Fancy living a fortnight in such suspense!
I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up until it is over."
Diana knew it would be useless to ask how Gilbert Blythe had fared,
so she merely said:
"Oh, you'll pass all right. Don't worry."
"I'd rather not pass at all than not come out pretty well up on
the list," flashed Anne, by which she meant--and Diana knew she
meant--that success would be incomplete and bitter if she did not
come out ahead of Gilbert Blythe.
With this end in view Anne had strained every nerve during the
examinations. So had Gilbert. They had met and passed each
other on the street a dozen times without any sign of recognition
and every time Anne had held her head a little higher and wished
a little more earnestly that she had made friends with Gilbert
when he asked her, and vowed a little more determinedly to
surpass him in the examination. She knew that all Avonlea junior
was wondering which would come out first; she even knew that
Jimmy Glover and Ned Wright had a bet on the question and that
Josie Pye had said there was no doubt in the world that Gilbert
would be first; and she felt that her humiliation would be
unbearable if she failed.
But she had another and nobler motive for wishing to do well.
She wanted to "pass high" for the sake of Matthew and Marilla--
especially Matthew. Matthew had declared to her his conviction
that she "would beat the whole Island." That, Anne felt,
was something it would be foolish to hope for even in the
wildest dreams. But she did hope fervently that she would be
among the first ten at least, so that she might see Matthew's
kindly brown eyes gleam with pride in her achievement. That, she
felt, would be a sweet reward indeed for all her hard work and
patient grubbing among unimaginative equations and conjugations.
At the end of the fortnight Anne took to "haunting" the post
office also, in the distracted company of Jane, Ruby, and Josie,
opening the Charlottetown dailies with shaking hands and cold,
sinkaway feelings as bad as any experienced during the Entrance
week. Charlie and Gilbert were not above doing this too, but
Moody Spurgeon stayed resolutely away.
"I haven't got the grit to go there and look at a paper in cold
blood," he told Anne. "I'm just going to wait until somebody
comes and tells me suddenly whether I've passed or not."
When three weeks had gone by without the pass list appearing Anne
began to feel that she really couldn't stand the strain much longer.
Her appetite failed and her interest in Avonlea doings languished.
Mrs. Lynde wanted to know what else you could expect with a Tory
superintendent of education at the head of affairs, and Matthew,
noting Anne's paleness and indifference and the lagging steps that
bore her home from the post office every afternoon, began seriously
to wonder if he hadn't better vote Grit at the next election.
But one evening the news came. Anne was sitting at her open window,
for the time forgetful of the woes of examinations and the cares
of the world, as she drank in the beauty of the summer dusk,
sweet-scented with flower breaths from the garden below and sibilant
and rustling from the stir of poplars. The eastern sky above the
firs was flushed faintly pink from the reflection of the west,
and Anne was wondering dreamily if the spirit of color looked
like that, when she saw Diana come flying down through the firs,
over the log bridge, and up the slope, with a fluttering newspaper
in her hand.
Anne sprang to her feet, knowing at once what that paper
contained. The pass list was out! Her head whirled and her heart
beat until it hurt her. She could not move a step. It seemed an
hour to her before Diana came rushing along the hall and burst
into the room without even knocking, so great was her excitement.
"Anne, you've passed," she cried, "passed the VERY FIRST--you and
Gilbert both--you're ties--but your name is first. Oh, I'm so proud!"
Diana flung the paper on the table and herself on Anne's bed,
utterly breathless and incapable of further speech. Anne lighted
the lamp, oversetting the match safe and using up half a dozen
matches before her shaking hands could accomplish the task.
Then she snatched up the paper. Yes, she had passed--there was
her name at the very top of a list of two hundred! That moment
was worth living for.
"You did just splendidly, Anne," puffed Diana, recovering
sufficiently to sit up and speak, for Anne, starry eyed and rapt,
had not uttered a word. "Father brought the paper home from
Bright River not ten minutes ago--it came out on the afternoon
train, you know, and won't be here till tomorrow by mail--and
when I saw the pass list I just rushed over like a wild thing.
You've all passed, every one of you, Moody Spurgeon and all,
although he's conditioned in history. Jane and Ruby did pretty
well--they're halfway up--and so did Charlie. Josie just scraped
through with three marks to spare, but you'll see she'll put on
as many airs as if she'd led. Won't Miss Stacy be delighted?
Oh, Anne, what does it feel like to see your name at the head of
a pass list like that? If it were me I know I'd go crazy with joy.
I am pretty near crazy as it is, but you're as calm and cool as a
"I'm just dazzled inside," said Anne. "I want to say a hundred
things, and I can't find words to say them in. I never dreamed
of this--yes, I did too, just once! I let myself think ONCE,
`What if I should come out first?' quakingly, you know, for it
seemed so vain and presumptuous to think I could lead the Island.
Excuse me a minute, Diana. I must run right out to the field to
tell Matthew. Then we'll go up the road and tell the good news
to the others."
They hurried to the hayfield below the barn where Matthew was
coiling hay, and, as luck would have it, Mrs. Lynde was talking
to Marilla at the lane fence.
"Oh, Matthew," exclaimed Anne, "I've passed and I'm first--or one
of the first! I'm not vain, but I'm thankful."
"Well now, I always said it," said Matthew, gazing at the pass
list delightedly. "I knew you could beat them all easy."
"You've done pretty well, I must say, Anne," said Marilla,
trying to hide her extreme pride in Anne from Mrs. Rachel's
critical eye. But that good soul said heartily:
"I just guess she has done well, and far be it from me to be
backward in saying it. You're a credit to your friends, Anne,
that's what, and we're all proud of you."
That night Anne, who had wound up the delightful evening with a
serious little talk with Mrs. Allan at the manse, knelt sweetly
by her open window in a great sheen of moonshine and murmured a
prayer of gratitude and aspiration that came straight from her
heart. There was in it thankfulness for the past and reverent
petition for the future; and when she slept on her white pillow
her dreams were as fair and bright and beautiful as maidenhood
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