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    Chapter XVII

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    Chapter 17
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    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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