(Link to Twitter thread.) Chapter Twenty-Eight: An Unfortunate Lily Maid
It is midsummer now, so either July or August. What midsummer is kind of varies depending on where you live, I’ve found, but since we know their break is July-August, I assume late July to early August.
Idlewood, the pretty little circle of trees where Diana and Anne made their playhouse once upon a time, was cut down in the spring. Mr Bell didn’t feel as romantic about his back pasture as they did.
However, they’re “big girls of thirteen” now so they’re okay, and instead have spent most of their summer “on and about the pond”. They fish for trout under the bridge and they often row about in Mr Barry’s “flat-bottomed dory”. Today they are hanging out on the pond with Ruby Gillis and Jane Andrews.
Back in the winter, the school studied Tennyson’s poem… I assume “The Lady of Shallot” which is based on Elaine of Arthurian legend. Tell you the truth here, I mostly just wikipedia’d all that, as that whole mythology isn’t super my thing lol.
As young girls do, they decide to re-enact her death/funeral scene.
And I’m not being sarcastic. Girls totally do this kind of thing. If you’ve got a kid who plays with Barbies, really pay attention to their plot sometime.
They’d previously discovered if the flat (basically a row-boat with a flat bottom) was pushed off from the dock on one end of the pond, it’d drift under the bridge and “strand itself on another headland lower down which ran out at a curve in the pond”. They’ve done this plenty of times before.
They have a short discussion about who should be Elaine. Diana and Ruby are both too nervous about the idea of floating across the pond while lying down in the bottom of the boat, and Jane wouldn’t be able to stay still.
So that leaves just one left… who else but our girl. Anne protests she can’t be Elaine due to the red hair, but the others say it’s actually darkened to a lovely auburn. Obviously this pleases Anne, as she’s been hoping for this for a while. It’s also grown out long enough to be a cluster of short curls, held in place by a black velvet ribbon and bow. That was Diana’s idea when Anne first had to cut her hair – Anne calls it a snood.
Anne mentions something about Elaine’s “bright” hair, and I’ll admit I only did a cursory wikipedia search since it wasn’t that important, but it didn’t seem like a ton of the paintings or whatever really even depicted her as a blonde or anything?
Anyways, more importantly, Anne chooses Ruby to be King Arthur, Jane to be Guinivere and Diana to be Lancelot. Remember, Lancelot, the dude Elaine dies from pining over?
They push the flat (with Anne lying in the bottom) off, with it “scrapnig roughly over an old embedded stake in the process” and the other girls head to the other side of the pond to meet the boat.
For a while, Anne is fine, and enjoying “the romance of her situation” – til the flat begins to leak.
The stake had torn off “the strip of batting nailed to the flat” and there’s a BIG crack in the bottom. And they left the oars, of course. Oars aren’t romantic. By sheer luck, the flat floats down to the bridge and Anne is able to grab onto one of the bridge piles.
Bridge piles, fyi, are what a bridge’s legs are called.
(Photo by Rémih via Wikimedia Commons with no alterations made.)
Did *I* know that before this chapter? Wouldn’t you like to know.
The ones on the pond’s bridge are old tree trunks with “lots of knots and old branch stubs” so Anne has something to hang onto.
And then she’s stuck.
The flat drifted under the bridge and promptly sunk. The other girls see it, figure she’s gone down with the ship, and run for help. So she’s alone and stranded.
Anne can’t swim, of course. And it’s a pond but man is it easy to drown in a pond if you can’t swim. I did a little research on swimming here, since I was curious. It wasn’t a popular recreational activity in the US til the 1920s to 1930s, or as a popular sport til the 1950s and 1960s. That also seems to be true in Canada but you know. Less easy to find sources.
Also I wanna link to where I got the numbers here because they’re really well written. Mostly not related to this thread, but history nonetheless.
Like I said, not entirely related, but still.
Also, PSA about drowning linked here because that never hurts to spread that information.
Lucky for Anne, however, Gilbert Blythe happens to row under the bridge in “Harmon Andrew’s dory”.
“Gilbert glanced up and, much to his amazement, beheld a little white scornful face looking down upon him with big, frightened but also scornful grey eyes.”
I honestly love that line. The girl is literally hanging onto a bridge hoping she doesn’t fall in and drown, and she’s still like, “Ugh does it have to be you?”
Anne scrambles into his boat, reluctantly explains what happened and asks if he’ll row her to the landing. He does, and (on dry land) catches her arm before she can take off. He apologizes again for teasing her about her hair (and calls it pretty) and asks if they can be friends.
Honestly, I’m not against this at all? It has been two years. Gilbert is (around) fifteen and Anne is thirteen. He’s sincerely apologized more than once, and he’s been trying to make it up to her the entire time. In two years, he’s never treated her with anything but respect.
Note also for both Gilbert’s “half-shy, half-eager expression” and the “quick, queer little beat” Anne’s heart gives. (Yeah, we’re pointing that out here. Queer girls who are attracted to boys are just as queer. Fight me.)
For a minute, she hesitates, tempted. But she remembers the Carrots Incident, and coldly denies him, saying she’ll never want to be his friend.
“‘Alright!’ Gilbert sprang into his skiff with an angry colour in his cheeks. ‘I’ll never ask you to be friends again, Anne Shirley. And I don’t care either!'”
I think you care a little bit, Gilbert.
Honestly Anne’s being a little unreasonable. Gilbert did do something that was a little rude, but remember, the other girls in school didn’t particularly mind being teased that way. It never upset them like it did Anne. When it did upset Anne, he apologized immediately. Literally, she smacks him in the face and he apologizes for it. Most people… wouldn’t so much. He immediately takes the blame to try to keep her out of trouble, and apologizes later that day.
He’s probably apologized other times, and he’s been nothing but respectful to her. (He picked flowers for her. Flowers that she adores. He’s probably gotten teased quite a bit by other boys for that.)
She’s kind of holding a grudge for not a lot of reason!
Anne begins to feel regret almost immediately. “She almost wished she had answered Gilbert differently. Of course, he had insulted her terribly, but still!” Between the bridge thing and this, she’s ready for a good cry.
Diana and Jane are rushing back to the pond as Anne is heading back towards home. They’d found nobody at either the Barry’s or Green Gables and had to leave Ruby in a pile of tears and panic at Orchard Slope.
Anne is going to drive poor Ruby to an early grave.
This drives home how scary an emergency could be. The Barrys really were lucky that Anne knew what to do for Minnie May’s croup. If you’re not in the right place at the right time…
Diana grabs Anne and weeps in “relief and delight” that Anne’s okay. They’d assumed she was dead since, you know, none of them can swim and they didn’t see her get off the boat.
After a good cry, Anne assures Marilla she’ll have more sense now as she’s learned from all her mistakes. This mistake, she says, has taught her “it is no use trying to be romantic in Avonlea”. She doesn’t even want to HEAR the word again, she says.
After Marilla leaves the room, though, Matthew tells Anne not to give up “all your romance” as “a little of it is a good thing”. (Remember we’re using romance as a synonym for wonder here.)
Nice. Good chapter.
(Link to Twitter thread.) Chapter Twenty-Nine: An Epoch in Anne’s Life
Sidenote before I start – did I have to look up “epoch” for this chapter? Well, let’s just say that an epoch is an event or time marked by an event that begins a new period or development and you can decide for yourself 😛
Come September and Anne is bringing the cows home from the back pasture… and “till the cows come home” isn’t actually that late, is it? What is it, like, twilight?
Anyways, Diana comes to see her with very important news and tries to get her to guess it.
It’s not that Charlotte Gillis is getting married in the church and Mrs Allan wants them to help decorate it. (Charlotte’s beau apparently won’t agree to it as no one has had a wedding in the church and he thinks it would seem too much like a funeral.)
It’s also not that Jane’s mother is letting her have a birthday party or that Moody Spurgeon MacPherson saw Diana home from last night’s prayer meeting (Diana is particularly offended about that idea).
The new is actually that Aunt Josephine has invited Diana and Anne to town next Tuesday and to stay with her for a few days for the Exhibition. Exhibition is like a fair. Kinda like the Calgary Stampede.
Of course, Anne is super excited, but fears Marilla will say no. Diana is very clever and suggests having ask her mother for them. Seriously, Diana is a little sneakier than people give her credit for being.
Anne is also grateful that if she can go, her new coat will be ready in time. Once again, this was a Matthew moment. Marilla said her old one was fine and she should be glad to have a new winter dress – and Anne is! It’s navy blue and all her dresses now are made fashionably because Marilla “doesn’t intend to have Matthew going to Mrs Lynde to make them”.
Honestly Marilla can be so enjoyably petty XD
Matthew insisted Anne should have a new coat, though, and Marilla bought some “blue broad-cloth”. (Broadcloth is a material dress shirts are made out of – I assume there’s also a warm lining.) It’s even being made in Carmody by a real dressmaker.
You know, she is getting close to fourteen. She might be close to not growing much more and also, realistically, she might be getting close to leaving home soon. There’s not a ton of time left to spoil her.
And Matthew DID indeed spoil her with a new cap, too. One of “those little blue velvet ones that are all the rage, with gold cord and tassels”.
Marilla agrees to let Anne goes to Charlottetown. What have I said about Diana having a bit of mischief in her???
They have to leave very early so Mr Barry has time to get there and back the same day. Anne wakes up before sunrise. Matthew gets the fire going and Anne has breakfast done before Marilla gets downstairs.
Gosh but the descripitions are great. They don’t get old. For instance, Aunt Josephine lives in “a fine old mansion, set back from the street in a seclusion of green elms and brancing beeches”. She says Anne has grown taller than her and has gotten very pretty.
Both girls are a bit shocked by how grand Aunt Josephine’s house is. The parlour has velvet carpet and silk curtains. And Aunt Josephine did, as promised, put the girls in the most elegant spare room.
Anne notes, though, there isn’t much room for imagination in such splendor, and sleeping in a spare room isn’t what she used to think it was. That’s part of growing up, she thinks. The things you wanted as a child aren’t as good as you imagined when you get them. A little bittersweet, but true sometimes, I think.
The Exhibition is a grand time. Josie Pye took first place for knitted lace and Anne managed to sincerely feel glad for her. The Avonleas residents did pretty well in general. Apparently Mrs Lynde makes some rocking homemade butter and cheese.
Aunt Josephine took them to watch the horse races, too. Anne didn’t bet with Diana as she wanted to be able to tell Mrs Allan about it without leaving things out, but she did find it very exciting. They saw a man go up in a hot air balloon, which Anne would love to do one day, and had their fortunes told. Anne’s was mostly along the “you’ll meet someone tall, dark and handsome” line, lol.
The next day, Aunt Josephine took them to see a concert in the Academy of Music, and after they had ice cream at 11 o’clock at night. Diana says she was absolutely made for city life. After some thought, Anne decides she’d rather most nights be home in her bed at 11 o’clock, with a few special nights here and there. Not a bad attitude, really. Keep the wonder, but have a safe space to land.
As they were leaving, Anne gave Aunt Josephine a grateful hug and kiss on the cheek. Later, alone, Josephine realized she enjoyed Anne less for her “quaint speeches” and more for how honest and enthusiastic and sweet she is. She says to herself, “If I’d had a child like Anne in the house all the time, I’d be a better and happier woman” and thinks about what a good decision Marilla made in keeping Anne.
The sun is setting as Diana and Anne get home, and they’re both truly glad to be heading home. They enjoyed theirselves, but they’re grateful to have a familiar and welcoming place to be coming home to.
Green Gables is bright and warm with the hearth fire and Marilla has cooked a broiled chicken for Anne’s welcome home supper.
She says, “I’m glad you’ve got back, I must say. It’s been fearful lonesome here without you, and I never put in four longer days.”
Didn’t need company, eh, Marilla?
The chapter ends with Anne telling Matthew and Marilla all the things I just recapped. Besides the drives there and back, all her adventure was told through Anne relating it to them. I think that really shows Anne means it when she says, “the best of it all was coming home”. It’s a really sweet ending to a fun chapter.
(Link to Twitter thread.) Chapter Thirty: The Queen’s Class is Organized
It’s now November and Marilla and Anne are spending a quiet evening together. Anne was reading, but is now just daydreaming about adventures in Spain that *don’t* end in mishap.
Interesting linguistic note – Anne is described as sitting “Turk-fashion” which is a term I hadn’t heard before for sitting crossing-legged/crisscross applesauce. Obviously not a great term to use these days but I hadn’t heard that one before.
Marilla notes her eyes are getting tired and that she’ll have to have her glasses changed as her eyes are getting tired a lot lately. She looks over at Anne and thinks about how much she’s grown to love Anne. It’s nothing she would ever say out loud, but the soft firelight allows her a moment of tenderness.
Ugh, I love this scene so much. Soft moments in soft lighting are my fave.
Marilla worries she loves Anne too much and so she’s stricter and more critical than if she loved her less fiercely. For her part, Anne doesn’t always realize how Marilla feels and thinks it can be hard to live up to her expectations, but always wants to.
That’s something to really look for in adaptations, actually. Anne is affectionate to Marilla and Matthew, but she’s also incredibly grateful for all they’ve done for her and never forgets that – and she respects them so much.
Miss Stacy came by earlier, Marilla says suddenly, and Anne startles and then goes off into a ramble for about a page, because even though she’s getting older, she’s still Anne and that happens sometimes still lol. Point to, “Diana and I are thinking seriously of promising each other that we will never marry, but be nice old maids and live together for ever.”
I mean. Come on.
She eventually gets around to asking why Miss Stacy came by, but before Marilla can answer, she confesses she got caught reading Ben-Hur in class yesterday. Marilla’s like, “That wasn’t it, but also thanks for the confession and don’t read in class.”
Apparently when Marilla was a little girl, she wasn’t allowed to read novels at all. That’s so sad, oh my gosh. Poor little Marilla.
Eventually Anne lets Marilla get a word in edgewise and she says Miss Stacy came to ask if Marilla and Matthew would like Anne to join a class of advanced scholars who would like to study for the Queen’s Academy entrance examination. She asks if Anne would like to be a teacher and Anne says she would love to and would find it a great honour – but Mr Andrews says it cost him $150 to put Prissy through Queen’s.
Remember, 10 dollars was like 300 today. That’s probably at least three grand. Three thousand dollars is no small amount of money for two older people living on a small farm, honestly.
But Marilla tells her not to worry, because she and Matthew promised “we would do the best we could for you and give you a good education”. And we saw this was true even before they knew they were getting Anne! This is really a sticking point for me. Even if they hadn’t gotten Anne, the boy they would have gotten would have had a good home with them and a good education, probably a whole lot better than he would have gotten otherwise.
Marilla also says, “I believe in a girl being fitted to earn her own living whether she ever has to or not”. Heck yeah feminist Marilla!! Frankly that’s more than some people expect of girls now. I approve of this.
I also legit almost cried at this part. Marilla says, “You’ll always have a home at Green Gables as long as Matthew and I are here, but nobody knows what is going to happen in this uncertain world, and it’s just as well to be prepared.”
Like, having a home like this is all Anne ever wanted and can you just imagine how much this means to her? To have her deepest, most heartfelt dream come true and in such a beautiful, loving way?
Bit of theorizing here – Montgomery’s grandfather died a few years before she wrote this, and she was living with her grandmother, who died just three years after Anne was published. She was also secretly engaged to the man she would later marry, and had been since 1906. I think my theory that the Allans are a rather idealized version of how she hoped her married life would be holds weight.
This must have been a rather lonely time in her life. She was supporting herself and her grandmother with her writing, which is great obviously but writing is not a social career.
As well, I think Marilla’s statement reflects something Montgomery wanted, a feeling of always having a home to return to. Though she moved home to live with her grandmother after her grandfather’s death, I don’t get a sense it was out of deep love. Things I’ve read have described Montgomery’s grandmother as “more sympathetic” than her grandfather, but that’s not exactly how I would describe a very close relationship.
For the record, I do plan on reading more on Montgomery’s life, but that’ll be later. I don’t want to read about, say, her creative process of writing something before I actually read it and colour my opinion on it. So we have speculation for now on most things. Obviously I’ve done some research and I know facts and whatnot, but getting into Montgomery’s writings about her life and stuff will come later in this project.
Back to the scene at hand. Anne hugs Marilla tight and promises to try and make them proud, and Marilla tells her that Miss Stacy says Anne is “bright and diligent”. Miss Stacy apparently said more than that, too, but Marilla wouldn’t “pamper vanity” by repeating it. Marilla’s not quick to praise Anne herself, for fear of giving her a big head, but boy is she proud when someone talks about Anne and praises her.
It’ll still be a year and a half before Anne will be ready to try to take the entrance exam. The new Queen’s class consists of Anne, Gilbert Blythe, Ruby Gillis, Jane Andrews, Josie Pye, Charlie Sloane and Moody Spurgeon MacPherson.
Diana’s parents don’t intend to send her to Queen’s. Rude. Can we get Aunt Josephine on that? That seems like something Aunt Josephine would disagree with. Poor Anne is taking that hard. The Queen’s class meets for an hour after school for extra lessons and it’s the first time since Minnie May’s croup she and Diana have been apart for anything.
She’s comforted by a Mrs Rachel saying, though, “we can’t have things perfect in this imperfect world”, and says “Mrs Lynde isn’t exactly a comforting person sometimes, but there’s no doubt she says a great many very true things.”
Honestly that’s not untrue lol.
It also helps that she thinks the class and work will be very interesting, and looks forward to the learning.
Let’s talk career aspirations. Jane and Ruby are going to be teachers, too. Ruby, however, says she’ll only teach for two years and then she plans on getting married. Jane plans on never marrying “because you are paid a salary for teaching, but a husband won’t pay you anything, and growls if you ask for a share in the egg and butter money”.
No joke, are you okay, Jane?
Mrs Rachel says Jane’s father “is a perfect old crank, and meaner than second skimmings”. “Mean” here would, well, mean cheap, essentially, not cruel, but… I suspect he’s both.
If any adaptation makes him abusive, there’s definitely basis here tbh.
Anyways, that disturbing thought aside, Josie Pye meanwhile is “just going to college for education’s sake, because she won’t have to earn her own living; she says of course it is different with orphans who are living on charity – they have to hustle”.
Honestly fuck you, Josie Pye.
You know what, we’re making a note of that for adaptations. Josie Pye is MEAN and she’s mean specifically about Anne being an orphan.
Moody Spurgeon is going to be a minister. “Mrs Lynde says he couldn’t be anything else with a name like that to live up to.”
I mean. I’m just going to let that stand on its own. Moody Spurgeon MacPherson, though.
Charlie Sloane wants to be a member of Parliment. Mrs Rachel says the Sloanes are all “honest people” and “it’s only rascals that get on in politics nowadays”. Marilla asks about Gilbert and Anne claims not to know what Gilbert’s ambitions in life are – if he even has any, which she doubts.
Apparently the rivalry between Anne and Gilbert has become an open one that’s no longer one-sided. Gilbert’s just as determined to be first in class as Anne now. The others are like, “We’re just gonna stay out of this,” lol. Smart.
Since the pond incident, Gilbert has been steadfastly ignoring Anne – and she finds she does not like this taste of her own medicine. Now remember, she spent 2 years pretending he didn’t exist, but when she does the same, she’s not happy at all. Slowly she begins to realize she’s not angry at him anymore and regrets not forgiving him that day at the pond. She’s too stubborn to eat crow, though, and resolves not to let anyone, not even Diana, realize her true feelings and how sorry she is.
She does this so well that Gilbert “who possibly was not quite so indifferent as he seemed” doubts she even notices he’s ignoring her. He’s just glad Anne’s still snubbing Charlie Sloane lol.
Winter passes in a paragraph of lessons and books and Sunday-school choir and Saturday afternoons with Mrs Allan, and then it’s spring again. That was fast. Around here, time begins to pass in the book rather quickly. My timeline will be handy.
Seriously though that was like 6 months in a paragraph. Montgomery leaves a LOT of room for adaptations to play with expanding in these parts.
The students do struggle a little then, as we know how spring in Avonlea is, and who wouldn’t want to be outside in that, but when the term ends for summer, Miss Stacy expresses how proud she is of them all for their hard work.
Next year will be their last year before the entrance exam – interesting note, it’s really not by age, but ability. Remember, Gilbert is over fifteen now and Anne is just turned fourteen. Josie Pye asks if Miss Stacy will return next year as there’s been rumours “she had been offered a position in the graded school of her own home district”.
I’m fascinated by the education in this book. Like Avonlea has a one-room schoolhouse but we know Anne’s father taught at a high school. So interesting.
They’re all very grateful to hear Miss Stacy will be returning, especially Anne.
Gosh, a lot happens in this chapter. I think the last time I had this many pages of notes, I had to research and explain diphtheric croup.
Anne locks all her school books in the attic and declares she won’t look at them til September. She plans on having one more really free, good summer as it’s probably her last as a “little girl”. Her words, but she’s fourteen now. That is that kind of age.
She’s growing very tall and Mrs Rachel says she’ll “soon have to put on longer skirts”. Like putting your hair up, wearing long skirts was considered a sign of maturity. Skirts would get longer as a girl got older.
Also, special note goes to, “I think we’re going to have a very gay vacation”, LOL.
The next day, Mrs Rachel comes to check on them as Marilla wasn’t at the Aid meeting Thursday and everyone knows it takes a lot for that to happen. Mrs Rachel might be a busybody, but I appreciate that she was worried about her friends and came to see them.
Matthew had a “bad spell with his heart” that day and Marilla didn’t want to leave him. They’ve been happening more than they used to. The doctor says he need to avoid excitment (easy) and also heavy work (not easy).
Sigh. Let’s just pretend that didn’t happen.
Anywas, Mrs Rachel stays for tea and Anne makes it along with “hot biscuits that were light and white enough to defy even Mrs Rachel’s criticism”. As Marilla walks her to the end of the lane, Mrs Rachel says Anne has turned out to be a smart girl, and a real help to Marilla. Marilla says Anne is steady and reliable and Marilla “wouldn’t be afraid to trust her in anything now”.
Mrs Rachel willingly admits she was mistaken about Anne and she’s glad for that. And that Anne has grown very pretty and maybe she’s not as conventionally pretty as the other girls, but she’s unique, and that makes her stand out from the crowd.
That’s the end of the chapter, and you’ll have to excuse me, because I seem to have something in my eye.
Kennedy, Rose. “Drowning Doesn’t Look like What You Think. How to Recognize the Signs.” Ajc, For the AJC, 10 May 2018, http://www.ajc.com/lifestyles/health/drowning-doesn-look-like-what-you-think-how-recognize-the-signs/d1xQYZMVmgfHI1nBWOVK0J/.
Rohrer, Finlo. “Why Don’t Black Americans Swim?” BBC News, 3 Sept. 2010, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-11172054.
Scott, Jacqueline L. “Swimming While Black.” The Conversation, 18 Jan. 2019, theconversation.com/swimming-while-black-101354.
Wikipedia Contributors. “The Lady of Shalott.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Mar. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lady_of_Shalott.