DISCLAIMER: I do not own these characters. They belong to L .M. Montgomerry. This is my first fanfiction. Please be a little charitable.
May It Be
News in Dreary Times
Una Meredith was walking up to Ingleside one cool January morning. Although the road had been cleared, snow lay in small heaps on either side and Una held up her skirts to prevent them from getting wet. The branches of the trees carried little clouds of fluffy snow and the roofs of the distant houses were also covered. It had been snowing for the last three days and news had come from Ingleside that one of the trees in the garden had cracked and fallen because of the cold. So, Una had set off from the manse as soon as the road had been cleared.
She knew there was nothing for her to do and was not quite sure why she was going to Ingleside, except that she felt restless after being housebound for three days and wanted to visit Rilla.
No sooner had she entered the Ingleside garden, than Rilla came running out. Her face was white and she seemed to find difficulty in speaking. Una waited for her to calm down and looked around the garden. The tree had fallen across a flower bed and branches and splinters of wood lay around everywhere but no effort had been made to cut down the tree and remove it. Knowing the inhabitants of Ingleside very well, Una found this rather surprising. She looked back at Rilla who was now clutching her arm tightly.
"Una," gasped Rilla. "We have…..it has just come…..I mean, the letter has just…..oh, Una I can't believe it's true…. but…." She took a deep breath and finally plunged. "Walter is alive. He is in France. Father has just got the letter. He will be coming back in spring. Oh, I can hardly believe it!" The words came out in a rush.
Una stood as if turned to stone. All the blood receded from her face as she tried to take in this information. Rilla seemed to have been quite undone by this shock, she did not know whether to laugh or to cry and was fighting against both tears and laughter as she embraced Una and pulled her inside the house.
Inside, all was confusion. Dr. Blythe sat staring at a white sheet of paper with unseeing eyes. Nan was in tears of joy while her sister seemed to be in shock. She did not even look around when the door opened and Una and Rilla came in. Anne had got over her initial shock and begun to question the doctor. Una heard a part of this question as she came in.
"….in spring will he be coming back?" Anne stopped and looked around as the girls appeared. A thin smile broke through her face. "As you can see dear, you have come upon us at a very opportune moment. I suppose Rilla has told you."
Una just nodded, still unable to speak. Anne looked at the paleness of her face, grew rather worried and then made her sit down and drink some water. Finally she had gathered strength enough to ask what he had written.
It was not very much. He had just said that he was alright and had been in France, in the province of Lorraine and had not been able to write earlier as it had been occupied by German troops. It still was, but as Germany had surrendered, he considered it and what was more, the family he had been staying with considered it safe for him to return. So, he would be coming back in spring. He was sorry he had made them worry so, but he could not find any way to send them news that he was safe. The story was long and complex and he would tell them all when he got back. He hoped everybody was fine. He had not known, had only lately learned that he was registered as dead. Until he took care of all the formalities, he could not come home. That was all.
By now everybody had pretty much recovered from the immediate shock and was calmer. Una certainly was. Susan had brought in tea to help with the process of recovery but Una declined and said she should be heading home. Gently putting aside all protestations of her not being well enough, she got up and slowly walked back to the manse.
Carl and Jerry were in the sitting room. They looked surprised to find her back so soon. Una realized that it had fallen on her to acquaint her brothers with the news. Her heart was beating like hammer and tongs but when she spoke, her soft voice was calm and unhurried.
"Dr. Blythe has just got a letter from France, from Walter. Apparently it was all a misunderstanding and he is not only alive but well and he will be coming back in the spring. He had been staying with a family in the province of Lorraine and had been unable to communicate with us because it was occupied by German troops." Without looking to see the effect this piece of intelligence had on her brothers, Una swiftly left the sitting room and ran up the stairs to her bedroom, closing and locking the door behind her. She leaned against it and let out a deep sigh and much to the astonishment of even herself, she burst into tears, sinking down to the floor where she was, burying her face in her arms and weeping as though her heart would break. Silent sobs shook her slight, slender flame violently.
At last, she gathered herself together, washed her face to get rid of the tell-tale sign of tears and sat down to think as calmly as she could. Well, what if he was alive? How did that affect her? It did not affect her at all. So she would pull herself together and not make a fool of herself. She had better go and see if Mother Rosemary needed help with luncheon. And Una took a few deep breaths and went down as if nothing at all extraordinary had happened.
Rosemary had learned of the new turn of events from her sons but something in Una's face must have reflected the inner turmoil of her heart for she made no mention of it in front of her daughter. They got lunch ready and ate it in silence, each choosing to think over things rather than talk.
Within two days, everybody in Glen St. Mary, Four Winds and all the folk overharbour had heard of Walter Blythe's miraculous return from the dead. Ingleside was besieged by curios and congratulating visitors. Everytime Una walked out, she was surrounded by girls eager to hear the whole story. The Ingleside folks were keeping it very dark but they were sure Una knew and would tell. In vain did Una insist she knew nothing of the story. They begged and pleaded to hear more. Young men, who were all returning in ones and twos now learned from family and sweethearts and tackled the Blythes and Merediths for news. The old housewives poured into Ingleside parlour to speak to Mrs. Blythe. Walter Cuthbert Blythe, with his famous poem, D.C. medal and sudden return from the dead had gone down in the local history.
In all this excitement, nobody was sure how it came about, but no letter was sent to Jem or Shirley about their brother. Thus it came about that when a tall young man in a lieutenant's uniform walked up to Ingleside one spring morning with Dog Monday at his heels, he was electrified to hear his mother and youngest sister discussing when Walter would be returning. Anne looked around and half rose up. For there stood her eldest son, one hand on the wooden gate, his face white, rooted to the ground. As they ran towards him, he gulped and exclaimed, "What did you mean? Walter returning?"
Rilla told him everything then and there, not even waiting for him to enter the house. Jem looked rather dazed for a minute and then laughed. "Well, I suppose it is less of a shock for me than it was for any of you. I had never accepted his death, it could not seem possible that my old chum and brother had died."
Great was the rejoicing at the Blythe household that night. The girls helped Susan prepare all Jem's favourite dishes while he talked to his parents. Una and Bruce had come to spend the day there and they were also included in the happy family party. Rilla went about singing again, hoping that her favourite brother too would be coming back soon.
And the next day, he came.