Anne had evidently made up her mind to hate Gilbert Blythe to the end of life.
Anne has finally started school, and despite Marilla’s worries, she actually turns out to be fairly popular. It doesn’t hurt that the teacher, Mr. Phillips, picks on her spelling on her first day, and proceeds to pick on her with mild regularity thereafter. She gets all sorts of ideas from the other girls in class, but what makes her popular is her own creativity.
“Oh Marilla, Jane Andrews told me that Minnie MacPhearson that she heard Prissy Andrews tell Sara Gillis that I had a very pretty nose. Marilla, that is the first compliment I have ever had in my life and you can’t imagine what a strange feeling it gave me. Marilla, have I really a pretty nose? I know you’ll tell me the truth.”
“Your nose is well enough,” said Marilla shortly. Secretly, she thought Anne’s nose was a remarkably pretty one; but she had no intention of telling her so.
School goes on well enough for a few weeks, until Gilbert Blythe shows up.
“I do think that writing take-notices on the wall about the boys and girls is the silliest ever. I should just like to see anyone dare to write my name up with a boy’s. Not, of course,” she hastened to add, “that anybody would.”
Anne sighed. She didn’t want her name written up. But it was a little humiliating to know that there was no danger of it.
Evidently these “take-notices” are a way of declaring one’s love to the schoolhouse, often without the other person’s knowledge, and it certainly takes me back to elementary school…
Gilbert Blythe was trying to make Anne Shirley look at him and failing utterly, because Anne at that moment was totally oblivious, not only of the very existence of Gilbert Blythe, but of every other scholar in Avonlea school and of Avonlea school itself. With her chin propped up on her hands and her eyes fixed on the blue glimpse of the Lake of Shining Waters that the west window afforded, she was far away in a gorgeous dreamland, hearing and seeing nothing save her own wonderful visions.
Gilbert Blythe wasn’t used to putting himself out to make a girl look at him and meeting with failure. She should look at him, that red-haired Shirley girl with the little pointed chin and the big eyes that weren’t like the eyes of any other girl in Avonlea school.
Gilbert reached across the aisle, picked up the end of Anne’s long red braid, held it out at arm’s length and said with a piercing whisper, “Carrots! Carrots!”
Then Anne looked at him with a vengeance!
She did more than look. She sprang to her feet, her bright fancies fallen into cureless ruin. She flashed one indignant glance at Gilbert from eyes whose angry sparkle was swiftly quenched in equally angry tears.
And then she smashes her slate on his head.
To be fair, Gilbert tells the teacher it was his fault for teasing her, and he had no idea that Anne’s hair was such a sore spot for her (Diana later informs her that he teases practically all the girls about their hair). But the teacher still punishes her for causing such a disturbance in his classroom.
“I am very sorry to see a pupil of mine display such a temper and such a vindictive spirit,” he said in a solemn tone, as if the mere fact of being a pupil of his ought to root out all evil passions from the hearts of small imperfect mortals. […] Mr. Phillips took a chalk crayon and wrote on the blackboard above her head.
“Ann Shirley has a very bad temper. Ann Shirley must learn to control her temper.”
Because of course he spells her name without an e!
“I shall never forgive Gilbert Blythe,” said Anne firmly. “And Mr. Phillips spelled my name without an e, too. The iron has entered into my soul, Diana.”
This could have blown over eventually, but for another incident the very next day.
Practically all the students had gone off the school grounds for lunch, but thanks to Anne’s daydreaming, she was among the last to find her seat – arriving at the same time as the boys. The teacher had promised punishment for all the students who did this, but he didn’t want the bother of punishing the whole class, so he finds a convenient scapegoat in Anne.
“Anne Shirley, since you seem to be so fond of the boys’ company, we shall indulge your taste for it this afternoon,” he said sarcastically. “Take those flowers out of your hair and sit with Gilbert Blythe.”
First of all, I generally disapprove of teachers using sarcasm with students on principle, both because the younger students are still learning English and they’re liable to be confused and it’s just mean and somewhat inappropriate.
Gilbert again attempts to make amends by sneaking Anne a candy heart, but she brutally rejects him by crushing it to dust.
At the end of the day, quite understandably, Anne packs up her stuff and declares she’ll never go back to school with Mr. Phillips.
Upon her arrival back home, Marilla isn’t quite sure what to do when Anne announces this intention, so she seeks advice from Mrs. Lynde.
“It’s my belief that Mr. Phillips was in the wrong. Of course, it doesn’t do to say so to the children, you know. And of course he did right to punish her yesterday for giving way to temper. But today it was different. The others who were late should have been punished as well as Anne, that’s what. And I don’t believe in making the girls sit with the boys for punishment.”
Thus she advises Marilla to not make a fuss about Anne returning to school, preferring to wait presumably see if Mr. Phillips will get fired as she thinks he should.
And so the school experiment is temporarily put on hold for Anne, but she clearly misses spending so much time with Diana, and all of a sudden she’s worrying about her friend getting married and taken away for good (they’re still only twelve, and Diana hasn’t even expressed a serious interest in any particular boy).
Next time: Diana is invited to tea (with tragic results)…