Marilla Cuthbert could not remember ever having seen Matthew look so angry. Come to think of it, she couldn't remember ever having seen
her brother angry in all her life. Anger wasn't something one associated with shy, quiet Matthew Cuthbert. But now he was decidedly angry. It would,
in fact, be more accurate to say that he was furious, and Marilla did not blame him one bit. She, too, was angry.
And what was the cause of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert's anger?
The seed had been planted several days earlier during the spelling lesson at school.
"Ebullition," said Mr. Phillips, who was not looking at the spelling class, but at Prissy Andrews.
Josie Pye, whose turn it was, quickly took advantage of this by peeping into her book. Mr. Phillips did not see her, but Anne Shirley did.
Anne looked scornfully at Josie.
Josie blushed, not with shame, but with anger. How dare Anne Shirley, an imported orphan, look scornfully
at an Avonlea Pye?
Josie deliberately misspelled the word, fearing that Anne would tell on her if she spelled it correctly. To make matters worse,
Anne moved up to the head of the spelling class... which position Josie had occupied until then...with that very word. This honor
was one more thing to rankle in Miss Pye's soul. She resolved to have revenge on Anne Shirley as soon as an opportunity presented itself.
Josie's chance for revenge came just a few days later. Amy March, slipping into the school with a moist brown-paper parcel of pickled limes,
heard somebody approaching. Swiftly, she shoved the parcel into the nearest desk, which just happened to be Anne's. She fully intended to'
retrieve the limes before Mr. Phillips discovered them. But that is not what happened.
Amy thought that nobody had seen her place the limes in Anne's desk, but somebody had, and that somebody was Josie Pye.
Soon after that day's lessons began, Josie walked up to Mr. Phillips' desk and whispered "Mr. Phillips, I think you should know that
Anne Shirley has pickled limes in her desk."
She returned to her seat, well pleased with herself.
Mr. Phillips had declared limes a contraband article, and had solemnly vowed to publicly ferrule the first person who was found breaking the law. He cleared his
throat and called Anne Shirley to the front of the room.
"Bring with you the limes you have in your desk."
"Mr. Phillips," said Anne, who had not seen the parcel in the back of her desk, "I don't have any limes."
"You haven't? We shall see," said Mr. Phillips, approaching Anne's desk and pulling out the moist brown-paper parcel of pickled limes.
Anne looked startled. Mr. Phillips interpreted that look as an indication of guilt.
"I don't know how those limes got there," Anne said. "I didn't bring any to school."
Amy knew that she ought to speak up, but she was too afraid of being ferruled. She had never been struck in her life, and she
could not bear the thought of it happening now, especially in public.
"Mr. Phillips," Diana Barry said, "Anne is telling the truth. We walked to school together, like we always do,"
"As you always do," Mr. Phillips corrected.
"As we always do," Diana went on, "and Anne didn't have any limes with her, and she didn't put any into her desk when we came in."
"Be that as it may," said Mr. Phillips, who could not admit that he might have been mistaken, "the fact remains that there are
pickled limes in Miss Shirley's desk, and therefore she is responsible for them."
Mr. Phillips led Anne to the front of the room and ordered her to hold out her hand.
Anne, seeing that she could not avoid the punishment, however undeserved, held out her hand, set her teeth, threw back her head defiantly, and
bore without flinching several tingling blows on her little palm.
Diana Barry winced at each blow. So did Amy March, but for a different reason. Josie Pye smirked with satisfaction.
"You will now stand on the platform until recess," Mr. Phillips said.
When Anne returned home that afternoon, she told Matthew and Marilla what had happened. Hence Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert's anger.
Matthew, not trusting himself to speak, patted Anne's shoulder comfortingly. He thought for a few minutes, and then went out.
The next morning, the students of the Avonlea School were surprised to see a woman teacher... the first woman teacher ever seen in the
Avonlea School... standing at the front of the room.
"My name is Miss Muriel Stacy, " she introduced herself, "and I will be substituting for Mr. Phillips while he is recovering from some injuries he sustained yesterday."