Chapter 17, pp. 123-129
The next day, Anne spies Diana gesturing for her to come out of the house. When Anne meets her at the Dryad’s Bubble, Diana says she has been permitted ten minutes in which to make her farewells to Anne. Both girls cry, but when Diana says she can never love anyone as she loves Anne, Anne is moved. She has never had a friend who loved her. “‘Why Diana, I didn’t think anybody could love me.’”
Anne and Diana complete their goodbyes. Afterwards, Anne reports to Marilla how she will always remember this parting, and she instructs Marilla to see that she is buried with the lock of hair that Diana gave her. Marilla drily observes that as long as Anne is able to talk, there is little chance of her dying.
On Monday, Anne announces that she is returning to Avonlea School. It is the only way she will be able to see Diana now. On her return, the other schoolchildren give Anne little gifts, including poems, letting her know that they missed her. Gilbert offers Anne a “strawberry apple,” much prized for its flavor, but when she discovers Gilbert gave it to her, she drops it on her desk and wipes her fingers as if they contain germs. Someone else eats the apple. Diana manages to get a note to Anne the next day, along with a bookmark, and Anne writes her back, signing her note “Anne or Cordelia Shirley.”
Anne, true to the promise she made Marilla when she said she was returning to school, becomes a model pupil. In fact, she enters into fierce, scholarly competition with Gilbert, and both are soon promoted to fifth class. Fifth class, however, contains geometry, which challenges Anne greatly. “‘I’m sure I’ll never be able to make head or tail of it,’” she tells Marilla. She mentions that Gilbert is good at it.
As schoolwork absorbs Anne’s attention, she soon loses the sting of her separation from Diana, for as she tells Marilla, a person cannot stay sad when there is so much of interest in the world.
Anne’s slip in mentioning Gilbert’s name when she speaks of competing with the others in the class reveals that she secretly thinks of him and perhaps acknowledges his intellect.
Chapter 18, pp. 129-138
When the Canadian Premier is scheduled to speak at a meeting in Charlottetown in January, Marilla decides to attend the meeting with Mrs. Lynde. The visit requires her to be away from home overnight, and that evening Anne and Matthew enjoy a cozy winter evening together. Matthew is reading a paper and Anne is studying, both of them desultorily discussing everything from geometry to politics to couples courting to the book Anne is waiting to read when her homework is done.
A frantic knock at the kitchen door draws their attention, and Diana bursts into the room, crying that her little sister, Minnie May, is very sick with the croup and the babysitter, Mary Joe, has no idea what to do. Without a word, Matthew and Anne spring into action; he rides to fetch a doctor, while Anne accompanies Diana back to her home. Anne assures Diana that she learned how to nurse children with croup when she lived with Mrs. Hammond. She fetches a bottle of ipecac syrup, and the girls head to Orchard Slope. On the way, Anne cannot help but be cognizant to “the romance of the situation and to the sweetness of once more sharing that romance with a kindred spirit.”
There, Anne finds a seriously ill Minnie May, and she orders Mary Joe to bank up the fire and Diana to prepare lots of hot water. She doses Minnie May with the ipecac over and over, and when the doctor arrives at 3 a.m., the danger has passed. As Anne relates to the doctor her methods, he is amazed.
As Matthew and Anne walk home in the cold, frosty morning hours, Anne muses on how beautiful the world looks. Then she expresses how tired she is and that she might stay home from school, except that “‘Gil—some of the others will get head of the class’” and she hates to be behind. She elects to go to bed.
When she awakens, it is afternoon and Marilla is home. She offers an account of the Premier and the meeting, and then she says she has heard about Anne’s escapade during the night. Even she would not have known how to cure croup, she admits. After Anne has eaten some plums, Marilla casually tells her that Mrs. Barry came by and announced that the doctor had told her how Anne saved her child, and she has therefore decided that Anne and Diana may be friends again.
Anne is so excited that she leaps up, and Marilla gives her permission to go immediately to Diana’s. Anne returns in the evening glowing with happiness. Mrs. Barry kissed her and served her tea, and afterwards she and Diana made taffy together. After her account, Anne says, “‘I assure you, Marilla, that I feel like praying tonight and I’m going to think out a special brand-new prayer in honor of the occasion.’”
Once again, Anne’s true goodness is rewarded as Mrs. Barry must acknowledge that she is not a bad girl but a smart and good-hearted one, willing to help others. Her special prayer shows that she is beginning to grasp what Marilla hoped she would: an understanding and reverence for God.