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Anne of Avonlea

5. A Full-fledged Schoolma'am
When Anne reached the school that morning . . . for the first time in her life she had
traversed the Birch Path deaf and blind to its beauties . . . all was quiet and still. The
preceding teacher had trained the children to be in their places at her arrival, and when
Anne entered the schoolroom she was confronted by prim rows of "shining morning
faces" and bright, inquisitive eyes. She hung up her hat and faced her pupils, hoping
that she did not look as frightened and foolish as she felt and that they would not
perceive how she was trembling.
She had sat up until nearly twelve the preceding night composing a speech she meant
to make to her pupils upon opening the school. She had revised and improved it
painstakingly, and then she had learned it off by heart. It was a very good speech and
had some very fine ideas in it, especially about mutual help and earnest striving after
knowledge. The only trouble was that she could not now remember a word of it.
After what seemed to her a year . . . about ten seconds in reality . . . she said faintly,
"Take your Testaments, please," and sank breathlessly into her chair under cover of the
rustle and clatter of desk lids that followed. While the children read their verses Anne
marshalled her shaky wits into order and looked over the array of little pilgrims to the
Grownup Land.
Most of them were, of course, quite well known to her. Her own classmates had passed
out in the preceding year but the rest had all gone to school with her, excepting the
primer class and ten newcomers to Avonlea. Anne secretly felt more interest in these
ten than in those whose possibilities were already fairly well mapped out to her. To be
sure, they might be just as commonplace as the rest; but on the other hand there
MIGHT be a genius among them. It was a thrilling idea.
Sitting by himself at a corner desk was Anthony Pye. He had a dark, sullen little face,
and was staring at Anne with a hostile expression in his black eyes. Anne instantly
made up her mind that she would win that boy's affection and discomfit the Pyes utterly.
In the other corner another strange boy was sitting with Arty Sloane. . . a jolly looking
little chap, with a snub nose, freckled face, and big, light blue eyes, fringed with whitish
lashes . . . probably the DonNELL boy; and if resemblance went for anything, his sister
was sitting across the aisle with Mary Bell. Anne wondered what sort of mother the child
had, to send her to school dressed as she was. She wore a faded pink silk dress,
trimmed with a great deal of cotton lace, soiled white kid slippers, and silk stockings.
Her sandy hair was tortured into innumerable kinky and unnatural curls, surmounted by
a flamboyant bow of pink ribbon bigger than her head. Judging from her expression she
was very well satisfied with herself.
 
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