Chapter XXXIV





CHAPTER XXXIV

A Queen's Girl


The next three weeks were busy ones at Green Gables, for
Anne was getting ready to go to Queen's, and there was
much sewing to be done, and many things to be talked
over and arranged.  Anne's outfit was ample and pretty, for
Matthew saw to that, and Marilla for once made no objections
whatever to anything he purchased or suggested.  More--
one evening she went up to the east gable with her arms full
of a delicate pale green material.

"Anne, here's something for a nice light dress for you.
I don't suppose you really need it; you've plenty of
pretty waists; but I thought maybe you'd like something
real dressy to wear if you were asked out anywhere of an
evening in town, to a party or anything like that.  I hear
that Jane and Ruby and Josie have got `evening dresses,' as
they call them, and I don't mean you shall be behind them.
I got Mrs. Allan to help me pick it in town last week,
and we'll get Emily Gillis to make it for you.  Emily
has got taste, and her fits aren't to be equaled."

"Oh, Marilla, it's just lovely," said Anne.  "Thank you so
much.  I don't believe you ought to be so kind to me--it's
making it harder every day for me to go away."

The green dress was made up with as many tucks and frills
and shirrings as Emily's taste permitted.  Anne put it
on one evening for Matthew's and Marilla's benefit,
and recited "The Maiden's Vow" for them in the kitchen.
As Marilla watched the bright, animated face and graceful
motions her thoughts went back to the evening Anne had
arrived at Green Gables, and memory recalled a vivid
picture of the odd, frightened child in her preposterous
yellowish-brown wincey dress, the heartbreak looking out
of her tearful eyes.  Something in the memory brought
tears to Marilla's own eyes.

"I declare, my recitation has made you cry, Marilla,"
said Anne gaily stooping over Marilla's chair to drop a
butterfly kiss on that lady's cheek.  "Now, I call that a
positive triumph."

"No, I wasn't crying over your piece," said Marilla, who
would have scorned to be betrayed into such weakness by
any poetry stuff.  "I just couldn't help thinking of the
little girl you used to be, Anne.  And I was wishing you could
have stayed a little girl, even with all your queer ways.
You've grown up now and you're going away; and you look
so tall and stylish and so--so--different altogether
in that dress--as if you didn't belong in Avonlea at all--
and I just got lonesome thinking it all over."

"Marilla!"  Anne sat down on Marilla's gingham lap, took
Marilla's lined face between her hands, and looked gravely
and tenderly into Marilla's eyes.  "I'm not a bit changed--
not really.  I'm only just pruned down and branched out.
The real ME--back here--is just the same.  It won't make a
bit of difference where I go or how much I change outwardly;
at heart I shall always be your little Anne, who will love
you and Matthew and dear Green Gables more and better every
day of her life."

Anne laid her fresh young cheek against Marilla's faded
one, and reached out a hand to pat Matthew's shoulder.
Marilla would have given much just then to have possessed
Anne's power of putting her feelings into words; but nature
and habit had willed it otherwise, and she could only put her
arms close about her girl and hold her tenderly to her heart,
wishing that she need never let her go.

Matthew, with a suspicious moisture in his eyes, got up
and went out-of-doors.  Under the stars of the blue summer
night he walked agitatedly across the yard to the gate
under the poplars.

"Well now, I guess she ain't been much spoiled," he
muttered, proudly.  "I guess my putting in my oar occasional
never did much harm after all.  She's smart and pretty,
and loving, too, which is better than all the rest.
She's been a blessing to us, and there never was a
luckier mistake than what Mrs. Spencer made--if it WAS luck.
I don't believe it was any such thing.  It was Providence,
because the Almighty saw we needed her, I reckon."

The day finally came when Anne must go to town.  She
and Matthew drove in one fine September morning, after a
tearful parting with Diana and an untearful practical one--
on Marilla's side at least--with Marilla.  But when Anne
had gone Diana dried her tears and went to a beach
picnic at White Sands with some of her Carmody cousins,
where she contrived to enjoy herself tolerably well; while
Marilla plunged fiercely into unnecessary work and kept at
it all day long with the bitterest kind of heartache--the
ache that burns and gnaws and cannot wash itself away in
ready tears.  But that night, when Marilla went to bed,
acutely and miserably conscious that the little gable room
at the end of the hall was untenanted by any vivid young
life and unstirred by any soft breathing, she buried her
face in her pillow, and wept for her girl in a passion of
sobs that appalled her when she grew calm enough to reflect
how very wicked it must be to take on so about a sinful
fellow creature.

Anne and the rest of the Avonlea scholars reached town
just in time to hurry off to the Academy.  That first day
passed pleasantly enough in a whirl of excitement, meeting
all the new students, learning to know the professors by
sight and being assorted and organized into classes.
Anne intended taking up the Second Year work being advised
to do so by Miss Stacy; Gilbert Blythe elected to do the same.
This meant getting a First Class teacher's license in
one year instead of two, if they were successful; but it also
meant much more and harder work.  Jane, Ruby, Josie,
Charlie, and Moody Spurgeon, not being troubled with
the stirrings of ambition, were content to take up the
Second Class work.  Anne was conscious of a pang of
loneliness when she found herself in a room with fifty
other students, not one of whom she knew, except the
tall, brown-haired boy across the room; and knowing him
in the fashion she did, did not help her much, as she
reflected pessimistically.  Yet she was undeniably glad that
they were in the same class; the old rivalry could still be
carried on, and Anne would hardly have known what to do
if it had been lacking.

"I wouldn't feel comfortable without it," she thought.
"Gilbert looks awfully determined.  I suppose he's making
up his mind, here and now, to win the medal.  What a
splendid chin he has!  I never noticed it before.  I do wish
Jane and Ruby had gone in for First Class, too.  I suppose I
won't feel so much like a cat in a strange garret when I get
acquainted, though.  I wonder which of the girls here are
going to be my friends.  It's really an interesting speculation.
Of course I promised Diana that no Queen's girl, no matter
how much I liked her, should ever be as dear to me as she is;
but I've lots of second-best affections to bestow.  I like
the look of that girl with the brown eyes and the crimson
waist.  She looks vivid and red-rosy; there's that pale, fair
one gazing out of the window.  She has lovely hair, and looks
as if she knew a thing or two about dreams.  I'd like to know
them both--know them well--well enough to walk with my arm
about their waists, and call them nicknames.  But just now I
don't know them and they don't know me, and probably don't
want to know me particularly.  Oh, it's lonesome!"

It was lonesomer still when Anne found herself alone in
her hall bedroom that night at twilight.  She was not to
board with the other girls, who all had relatives in town to
take pity on them.  Miss Josephine Barry would have liked
to board her, but Beechwood was so far from the Academy
that it was out of the question; so miss Barry hunted up a
boarding-house, assuring Matthew and Marilla that it was
the very place for Anne.

"The lady who keeps it is a reduced gentlewoman,"
explained Miss Barry.  "Her husband was a British officer,
and she is very careful what sort of boarders she takes.
Anne will not meet with any objectionable persons under
her roof.  The table is good, and the house is near the
Academy, in a quiet neighborhood."

All this might be quite true, and indeed, proved to be so,
but it did not materially help Anne in the first agony
of homesickness that seized upon her.  She looked dismally
about her narrow little room, with its dull-papered,
pictureless walls, its small iron bedstead and empty book-
case; and a horrible choke came into her throat as she
thought of her own white room at Green Gables, where
she would have the pleasant consciousness of a great green
still outdoors, of sweet peas growing in the garden, and
moonlight falling on the orchard, of the brook below the
slope and the spruce boughs tossing in the night wind
beyond it, of a vast starry sky, and the light from Diana's
window shining out through the gap in the trees.  Here
there was nothing of this; Anne knew that outside of her
window was a hard street, with a network of telephone
wires shutting out the sky, the tramp of alien feet, and a
thousand lights gleaming on stranger faces.  She knew that
she was going to cry, and fought against it.

"I WON'T cry.  It's silly--and weak--there's the third
tear splashing down by my nose.  There are more coming!
I must think of something funny to stop them.  But there's
nothing funny except what is connected with Avonlea, and
that only makes things worse--four--five--I'm going home
next Friday, but that seems a hundred years away.  Oh,
Matthew is nearly home by now--and Marilla is at the
gate, looking down the lane for him--six--seven--eight--
oh, there's no use in counting them!  They're coming in a
flood presently.  I can't cheer up--I don't WANT to cheer
up.  It's nicer to be miserable!"

The flood of tears would have come, no doubt, had not
Josie Pye appeared at that moment.  In the joy of seeing
a familiar face Anne forgot that there had never been much
love lost between her and Josie.  As a part of Avonlea life
even a Pye was welcome.

"I'm so glad you came up," Anne said sincerely.

"You've been crying," remarked Josie, with aggravating pity.
"I suppose you're homesick--some people have so little
self-control in that respect.  I've no intention of being
homesick, I can tell you.  Town's too jolly after that poky
old Avonlea.  I wonder how I ever existed there so long.
You shouldn't cry, Anne; it isn't becoming, for your
nose and eyes get red, and then you seem ALL red.  I'd a
perfectly scrumptious time in the Academy today.  Our French
professor is simply a duck.  His moustache would give you
kerwollowps of the heart.  Have you anything eatable around,
Anne?  I'm literally starving.  Ah, I guessed likely Marilla'd
load you up with cake.  That's why I called round.  Otherwise
I'd have gone to the park to hear the band play with Frank
Stockley.  He boards same place as I do, and he's a sport.
He noticed you in class today, and asked me who the red-headed
girl was.  I told him you were an orphan that the Cuthberts
had adopted, and nobody knew very much about what you'd been
before that."

Anne was wondering if, after all, solitude and tears were
not more satisfactory than Josie Pye's companionship when
Jane and Ruby appeared, each with an inch of Queen's
color ribbon--purple and scarlet--pinned proudly to her
coat.  As Josie was not "speaking" to Jane just then she had
to subside into comparative harmlessness.

"Well," said Jane with a sigh, "I feel as if I'd lived many
moons since the morning.  I ought to be home studying my
Virgil--that horrid old professor gave us twenty lines to
start in on tomorrow.  But I simply couldn't settle down to
study tonight.  Anne, methinks I see the traces of tears.  If
you've been crying DO own up.  It will restore my self-respect,
for I was shedding tears freely before Ruby came along.  I
don't mind being a goose so much if somebody else is goosey,
too.  Cake?  You'll give me a teeny piece, won't you?  Thank
you.  It has the real Avonlea flavor."

Ruby, perceiving the Queen's calendar lying on the table,
wanted to know if Anne meant to try for the gold medal.

Anne blushed and admitted she was thinking of it.

"Oh, that reminds me," said Josie, "Queen's is to get one
of the Avery scholarships after all.  The word came today.
Frank Stockley told me--his uncle is one of the board of
governors, you know.  It will be announced in the
Academy tomorrow."

An Avery scholarship!  Anne felt her heart beat more
quickly, and the horizons of her ambition shifted and
broadened as if by magic.  Before Josie had told the news
Anne's highest pinnacle of aspiration had been a teacher's
provincial license, First Class, at the end of the year, and
perhaps the medal!  But now in one moment Anne saw herself
winning the Avery scholarship, taking an Arts course at
Redmond College, and graduating in a gown and mortar board,
before the echo of Josie's words had died away.  For the
Avery scholarship was in English, and Anne felt that here
her foot was on native heath.???

A wealthy manufacturer of New Brunswick had died and left
part of his fortune to endow a large number of scholarships
to be distributed among the various high schools and academies
of the Maritime Provinces, according to their respective
standings.  There had been much doubt whether one would be
allotted to Queen's, but the matter was settled at last, and
at the end of the year the graduate who made the highest mark
in English and English Literature would win the scholarship--
two hundred and fifty dollars a year for four years at Redmond
College.  No wonder that Anne went to bed that night with
tingling cheeks!

"I'll win that scholarship if hard work can do it," she
resolved.  "Wouldn't Matthew be proud if I got to be a B.A.?
Oh, it's delightful to have ambitions.  I'm so glad I have
such a lot.  And there never seems to be any end to them--
that's the best of it.  Just as soon as you attain to one
ambition you see another one glittering higher up still.
It does make life so interesting."



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