October 15th, 1895
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Blythe,
We have received your letter of the 12th, threatening a lawsuit due to the recent physical assault of your son on our school grounds. We wish to offer our deepest apologies. The Avonlea School Board does not condone violence among any of our students, especially not of the type that threatens the possibility of a concussion. We offer our sincerest wishes that your son Gilbert will make a speedy recovery following the breaking of a writing implement onto his head. We are grateful, at least, that the presence of an abundance of thick and curly hair known to some of our female students as “gorgeous” and “the cutest” probably saved him from further harm.
We would like to gently remind you, as you consider legal action, that Master Blythe is not wholly innocent in this situation — indeed, he admitted fault immediately following the incident, and informed his teacher that he had precipitated the attack by mocking the coiffure of his aggressor. We are given to understand that vegetable comparisons were involved, which any respectable young woman would certainly find insulting.
We also feel it is important to note that Avonlea School highly prioritizes the exemplary character of its students; and that the unfortunate situation which unfolded within the schoolhouse last week will be instrumental in forming the character development of Miss Shirley, the perpetrator. In this light, we are certain that you will consider a negligible physical assault to be not worth worrying about.
We would, however, like to offer our most sincere apologies that first aid was not administered to Master Blythe immediately following this incident. We have been given reason to believe that Mr. Phillips, our teacher, was otherwise occupied in carrying on an inappropriate relationship with one of his female students and could not be bothered to do much more than facilitate the writing of punishment lines on the blackboard. We will look into this matter, but it is 1895 and he is a man, so don’t expect too much.
As you seek to put this incident in perspective, let us call some statistics to your attention; namely, that your son is far more likely to succumb to typhoid fever than to sustain any long-term ill effects from a little head-whacking. However, typhoid fever is also notorious for giving character development a good push in the right direction (see earlier remarks re: Miss Shirley), so please keep that under consideration as well.
In conclusion, we wish to inform you that we have sent a similar missive to the Cuthbert residence at Green Gables, as a preemptive measure against possible claims for mental anguish liability. Young girls are so dramatic. We hope that, in future, both Master Blythe and Miss Shirley will be able to divert their heated loathing into a more healthy channel of scholastic competition, and that any teenage romantic tension may be diffused in attempting to out-spell, out-figure, and beat each other for those few-and-far-between scholarships which are the only opportunity to make a life outside of Avonlea.
We hope you will give this letter much thought before embarking upon the lawsuit aforementioned, and if nothing else, have pity on the school board — we cannot afford to be dragged into the courts over this little situation. Our pecuniary reserves speak for themselves, considering that we are forced to rely on such a candidate as Mr. Phillips as the sole proprietor of education, moral instruction, and the keeping of order in our humble school. As soon as we encounter a candidate willing to work for half his wage, we will make an offer of employment to that good lady forthwith.
The Avonlea School Board
Prince Edward Island, Canada