Chapter 25, pp. 179-188
After work one December afternoon, Matthew is taking off his boots when Anne and her friends, who have been practicing for the concert, pass through the kitchen. He hides and observes that Anne looks different from the other girls, although he cannot quite pinpoint why. He knows Marilla would say that Anne talks more than any of them, but that is not it. He smokes a pipe and ponders that evening, and he comes up with it: Anne is dressed so drably compared to the other girls. Marilla seems to make a point to dress her exceedingly plainly, and Matthew decides to give Anne a new, fashionable dress for Christmas in two weeks.
He goes to Carmody to buy one the very next day, but Matthew’s courage in the face of a pert, fashionable salesgirl deserts him. He is too shy to ask for a dress, and instead he buys first a rake, then sugar, before making a hasty exit. After that failure, he resolves to approach Mrs. Lynde for help.
She is delighted to help Matthew, for she has always thought Marilla unnecessarily insisted on dressing Anne so plainly. When Matthew expressly asks for sleeves “‘made in the new way,’” Mrs. Lynde knows just what to do. She purchases silky brown material and makes a fashionable dress with puffed sleeves for Anne.
On a snowy Christmas day morning, Matthew gives Anne the dress, and she cries with delight. Even Marilla, who disapproves, has to admit the dress is lovely.
Later, Anne meets Diana in the hollow and tells her about the dress. Diana has a present for her, too; Miss Barry has sent her satin slippers. Anne feels like she is dreaming to have two such beautiful—and fashionable—clothing items now.
Anne wears her two new items at the concert on Christmas night. She shines during her recitations, even bringing audience members to tears, and she is very exhilarated after her performance. Diana reports that she saw Gilbert pickup a rose that fell out of Anne’s headdress and pocket it, but Anne says she cares nothing about him.
Matthew and Marilla, who attended the concert, talk together after Anne retires to bed that night. Both of them are very proud of Anne, and both of them are struck with how she is growing up. Matthew says they must think of Anne’s future after she graduates from Avonlea School, and Marilla, reluctantly, agrees that they must think about that.
Anne is changing. Challenged and guided by Miss Stacy, she is turning her dramatic talents and lively mind into heartfelt performances. Matthew sees that Anne has an inner quality that no one else possesses, a quality that is not quenched by her drab clothing. Marilla begins to see that her desire to mold Anne by training her to be more practical and sensible—even in her dress—has perhaps not done justice to Anne. She must begin to regard Anne as a person in her own right rather than as a child to be molded into a person.
Chapter 26, pp. 189-195
Anne’s thrill at performing so well at the concert stays with her over several weeks, making her feel dissatisfied with ordinary life. Eventually, however, she and the other star-struck children at school ease back into the alliances and jealousies that occupied them before the concert.
On Anne’s thirteenth birthday, she and Diana are walking along the Birch Path, taking note of things in order to write an assigned essay on “A Winter’s Walk in the Woods.” Anne observes that she feels different, being thirteen now, and that in two years she will be considered grown up. She and Diana talk about how they will be different then, wearing their hair up, perhaps, and having beaus. Anne, who has been thinking about being grown up a lot, says that she hopes to be like Mrs. Allan. In fact, she is trying very hard not to gossip or let her imagination overcome her so that she forgets duties, as she so often has in the past.
After Anne spies a rabbit, the girls’ talk reverts back to the essay they are to write. Diana moans about having to also write a fictional story. She finds writing fiction hard, but Anne finds it quite easy because of her vivid imagination. She relates the story she wrote, a tragic love story about two girls in love with the same man, and Diana professed it to be very good. She wishes she had such imagination.
Anne then suggests that to give Diana practice cultivating her imagination, the two should start a “story club” in which they write weekly stories to read aloud to one another. Soon, the story club expands to include Ruby Gillis and Jane Andrews. Each girl writes under a pen name, and Anne’s is Rosamund Montmorency.
Marilla thinks the story club is sheer nonsense, but Anne defends it by saying that the girls strive to put morals into their stories. Besides, she says, Mrs. Allan approved of the club. Mrs. Allan, she also says, confessed to being rather mischievous as a child, too, and knowing that has encouraged Anne to believe that she, too, will grow up to be good. Mrs. Lynde once told Anne that she lost all respect for a minister who confessed to being a thief as a little boy, but Anne says the fact that he learned something from his mistake and grew up to be good is something to respect.
Marilla, when asked if she agrees, acerbically points out that Anne has wasted thirty minutes relating this story, when she should have been washing dishes.
Thirteen is a landmark birthday for Anne, for it means she is on the cusp of being considered an adult (at sixteen), and she is beginning to turn her thoughts from childish considerations to more mature ones. Her stories, dramatic as ever, are taking on more adult themes, like love and marriage, even if she does not quite understand love yet. And Anne is beginning to realize that she can control how she turns out as an adult; she has chosen a model to which she aspires, Mrs. Allan, who grew to achieve composure and correctness even though she was a naughty child.