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Anne of Avonlea

12.
A Jonah Day
It really began the night before with a restless, wakeful vigil of grumbling toothache.
When Anne arose in the dull, bitter winter morning she felt that life was flat, stale, and
unprofitable.
She went to school in no angelic mood. Her cheek was swollen and her face ached.
The schoolroom was cold and smoky, for the fire refused to burn and the children were
huddled about it in shivering groups. Anne sent them to their seats with a sharper tone
than she had ever used before. Anthony Pye strutted to his with his usual impertinent
swagger and she saw him whisper something to his seat-mate and then glance at her
with a grin.
Never, so it seemed to Anne, had there been so many squeaky pencils as there were
that morning; and when Barbara Shaw came up to the desk with a sum she tripped over
the coal scuttle with disastrous results. The coal rolled to every part of the room, her
slate was broken into fragments, and when she picked herself up, her face, stained with
coal dust, sent the boys into roars of laughter.
Anne turned from the second reader class which she was hearing.
"Really, Barbara," she said icily, "if you cannot move without falling over something
you'd better remain in your seat. It is positively disgraceful for a girl of your age to be so
awkward."
Poor Barbara stumbled back to her desk, her tears combining with the coal dust to
produce an effect truly grotesque. Never before had her beloved, sympathetic teacher
spoken to her in such a tone or fashion, and Barbara was heartbroken. Anne herself felt
a prick of conscience but it only served to increase her mental irritation, and the second
reader class remember that lesson yet, as well as the unmerciful infliction of arithmetic
that followed. Just as Anne was snapping the sums out St. Clair Donnell arrived
breathlessly.
"You are half an hour late, St. Clair," Anne reminded him frigidly. "Why is this?"
"Please, miss, I had to help ma make a pudding for dinner 'cause we're expecting
company and Clarice Almira's sick," was St. Clair's answer, given in a perfectly
respectful voice but nevertheless provocative of great mirth among his mates.
"Take your seat and work out the six problems on page eighty-four of your arithmetic for
punishment," said Anne. St. Clair looked rather amazed at her tone but he went meekly
to his desk and took out his slate. Then he stealthily passed a small parcel to Joe
Sloane across the aisle. Anne caught him in the act and jumped to a fatal conclusion
about that parcel.
 
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