Ann of Green Gables : Chapters 15-16
Chapter 15, pp. 98-112
Anne is pleased that the first day of school in September is beautiful, and she is thrilled that she and Diana have such a beautiful route in which to get to school. Marilla worries that something will go wrong on Anne’s first day, but Anne returns home to report, with much detail, on her day: Mr. Phillips, the teacher, is smitten with an older student, Prissy Andrews; Anne got along with all the girls, and although she is behind them in schooling, none of them can outpace her in imagination; and one girl paid her the compliment of telling her she had a pretty nose.
Three weeks later, however, Anne finds trouble when Gilbert Blythe returns to school after being gone all summer. Diana has told Anne that he is handsome, and Anne notices that his name is coupled with another girl’s on the “Take Notice” board on which girls’ names are written up next to boys who might like them—or vice versa. Diana has had several “take notices” written about her, and she tells Anne that Charlie Sloan is “‘dead gone’” in a crush on Anne because she is “‘the smartest girl in school.’” Anne would rather be the prettiest; however, she is glad to be in the top of her class. Diana warns her that Gilbert is very smart and competitive, and he will try to win her place at the top.
In school that day, Anne observes Gilbert as he pins Ruby Gillis’s braid to the back of her desk and then acts innocent when the girl squeals in pain as she tries to get up. Gilbert winks at Anne when he sees that she is watching him. After lunch, Gilbert tries to get Anne to look at him again, and when she does not, he leans over and tries to get her attention by calling her “Carrots.”
Anne reacts by breaking a slate over his head and crying that Gilbert is a “‘hateful boy.’” Mr. Phillips punishes Anne by making her stand before the school all afternoon, with the words “Anne Shirley has a very bad temper. Anne Shirley must learn to control her temper” written on the board. Anne, utterly humiliated, vows never to speak or look at Gilbert again. When he apologizes, she ignores him and tells Diana that “‘the iron has entered into my soul, Diana.’”
The next day, the children spend the lunch hour as they always have, picking and chewing gum from a spruce grove nearby. They watch for Mr. Phillips returning from his lunch and race back to beat him to the schoolhouse. On this day, however, Anne, who had been daydreaming in the field, makes it to the school slightly late, along with a group of boys. Mr. Phillips chooses to make her the scapegoat for all the latecomers. He makes her sit with Gilbert. She does so, hiding her head in her arms on the desk, seething. Gilbert tries to make her feel better by sneaking her a candy heart, but she merely tosses it to the floor. At the end of the school day, she empties her desk, marches home, and informs Marilla that she will no longer attend Avonlea School.
Marilla has no idea what to do about Anne’s pronouncement, so she consults Mrs. Lynde, who has brought up several children. Mrs. Lynde advises her to do nothing. She says that Anne will not miss much—Mr. Phillips is not a good teacher—and her hurt feelings will eventually subside. Marilla thus leaves Anne alone about the matter.
One evening, she catches Anne crying, and Anne explains that she has been imagining Diana’s wedding and how she will lose her someday, when she marries. Marilla burst into such hearty laughter at this fanciful story that Matthew, who hears her from outside the house, is astonished.
Anne’s temper surfaces once again, as does her fervent wish to be beautiful. She also demonstrates that she is willing to hold a grudge, especially against anyone who points out what she feels is her greatest weakness: red hair. Gilbert acts like a pest, but he is obviously smitten with this unusual red-haired girl who is nothing like the other girls.
Chapter 16, pp. 112-123
Anne is enthralled by the beauty of the landscape around Green Gables in October, when the trees are turning varied colors. She exclaims to Marilla, “‘I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?’” Marilla, however, does not appreciate the untidiness of falling leaves, especially when Anne insists on decorating her room with branches of leaves.
Marilla tells Anne that she is going into Carmody for a meeting of the Aid Society, and Anne will have to give Matthew and his helper, Jerry, their evening meal. She reminds Anne of how she forgot to prepare the tea pot last time she was in charge of supper, and Anne recalls how she told Matthew a fairy story to occupy them while they waited.
Although Marilla has reservations about leaving such a dreamy, easily distracted Anne in charge, she allows her to ask Diana to come over for the afternoon and partake of tea. Anne is ecstatic. She asks if she may use the rosebud spray tea set and serve Diana in the parlor. Marilla does not agree; the plain brown tea set will do, as will the sitting room. However, she tells Anne she may serve Diana some raspberry cordial.
Once Marilla sets off, Diana comes over and the girls pretend to be grown-up ladies visiting one another for tea. Their conversation is stilted and formal—but not for very long. Soon they are out in the apple orchard, snacking on apples and talking about what is happening at Avonlea School in Anne’s absence. When Diana tries to tell her something about Gilbert, Anne shepherds her guest into the house for some raspberry cordial.
Diana, left alone in the sitting room, drinks a tumblerful of the red liquid and, thinking it rather delicious, drinks another. She remarks to Anne that Marilla’s cordial tastes much better than Mrs. Lynde’s, and Anne replies that Marilla is a very good cook and is trying to teach Anne to cook, without much success.
Anne admits she gets lost in daydreams and forgets to mind whatever she is trying to cook; she tells of forgetting the flour in a cake and finding a mouse drowned in some pudding sauce in the pantry because she forgot to cover it as Marilla had instructed. She relates the tale of how Marilla, not knowing about the mouse, was about to serve the sauce to some guests, when Anne burst out about the mouse and embarrassed her.
Suddenly, Anne notices that Diana looks funny, and Diana claims she is unwell. When Diana insists on going home, Anne is disappointed; she never got to serve tea. “‘I never heard of company going home without tea,’ she mourned. Diana, however, lurches out of the house and walks home dizzily. Anne meanwhile prepares supper for Matthew and Jerry.
The next day, Anne goes to Orchard Slope to check on her friend. She returns, crying, and tells Marilla that Mrs. Barry has accused her of making Diana drunk and forbidden them to be friends anymore. Marilla is astounded, but upon investigation, she finds that Anne has served Diana homemade currant wine; she remembers that she put the cordial in the cellar. Diana was indeed made drunk on wine that was intended to be used only during sickness.
Anne is beside herself. “‘The stars in their courses fight against me, Marilla. Diana and I are parted forever.’”
Marilla has a practical solution: she will explain what happened to Mrs. Barry. But Mrs. Barry will not bend, even after Marilla’s explanation, so Anne herself goes before Mrs. Barry. She gives a speech much like the one she gave to Mrs. Lynde when seeking her forgiveness. Mrs. Barry, however, does not forgive Anne; in fact, Anne’s dramatic words and gestures make her suspect Anne is making fun of her.
Anne returns to Green Gables and observes to Marilla, “‘I do not believe that God himself can do very much with such an obstinate person as Mrs. Barry.’” Marilla chides her for saying such a thing, while trying not to laugh at her wording.
Later, when Marilla sees that Anne has cried herself to sleep, she bends and bestows a kiss on Anne’s cheek.
Anne’s tendency to mishaps, while frustrating Marilla, draws the two of them closer together. Marilla is willing to stand up for Anne to make sure she is not misjudged—as Marilla herself once misjudged Anne—by being stereotyped as a bad girl. And although Anne speaks dramatically of her separation from Diana, she truly feels bereft.
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