CHAPTER II

August 28th, 1883, Sloane House, Sloane Lane, Avonlea, P.E.I.

Weather: Mild with partial cloud cover (strato-cumulous)

Time: 11:06

Ate: porridge with stewed prunes and Jersey milk; cold ham and cold potatoes; chicken pie, chicken leg, devilled chicken livers (8), gooseberry tartlets (4); snow apples (2), berry tart (loganberry?), plum preserves, peach preserves and custard for afters; apple punch, tea; peppermints (Lawson's not Blair's)

A very good evening diary,

1) Have just walked Anne Shirley home from AVIS Farewell Party this evening. Though generally silent (symptom of love?) she did agree with me on the excellence of the gooseberry tartlets and wondered over the making of them. To think the booklet I had in mind for her had a blank section at the back. Anne could have spent her time at the party writing out useful recipes. Suspicion Anne Shirley would have preferred my gift confirmed by two facts.

a) Upon receiving Shakespeare book she began to cry.

b) After Blythe quoted Shakespeare at her (as predicted) she snubbed him entirely.

2) Regrettably could not impress Anne with my repertoire (for reasons above). Though since remembered upon return walk home that 'Drink to me only with thine eyes' is not by Shakespeare but Johnson. Considered walking back to Green Gables and reciting it to Anne, but felt uncomfortably full. Have since enjoyed a good amount of relief, but will take extra portion of prunes with tomorrow's porridge as an added measure.

3) Unfortunately, this will put schedule out by one day.

4) Fortunately, have completed all outstanding tasks bar one. Regarding this, ask Reverend Allan (discreetly) if it is considered work if a man ask for permission to marry on a Sunday. Personally, I do not think it contradicts Presbyterian doctrine, though this wooing business has demanded a high degree of effort on my behalf; what with rote learning five sonnets, sticking close to Anne – who has a tendency to wander whenever I am near (also a symptom of love?) – and ascertaining cost of betrothal rings.

5) Observe Marilla Cuthbert's fingers at service tomorrow for alternative source. (Pinky ring might do as she has large hands.)

6) During permission-seeking interview determine whether Miss Cuthbert might part with a piece of jewellery. Am appalled at the price Fred Wright paid to secure Diana Barry. But Mother steadfastly will not part with her ring, which is a pity as it is a good diamond.

Respectfully, C. Sloane

The Palisades, Avonlea

Aug. 28

Well thank goodness that's over! I am exhausted. Exhausted. Up and down the stairs I don't know how many times. Ruby Gillis swore that diuretic tea would take five pounds off my hips, but I rather think it's the constant need to be always running up to the washroom that causes the weight to come off. At least we have indoor plumbing. It would have been humiliating to scurry to an outhouse every twenty minutes!

If that wasn't bad enough, Anne Shirley turned up a good thirty seconds before the party was due to start (of course she would, all the better to squeeze out every drop of attention for herself) wearing a dress in the same fabric as mine. I had to pretend my gown was just some old rag I hadn't had time to change out of, and do you know what she said to me?

"Then it's fortunate you suit rags so well, Josie dear."

Can you believe her? I had no choice but to put on my magenta brocade with the velvet overskirt, which I haven't been able to squeeze into for months!

What a time I had trying to get Gertie's attention. She was supposed to be handing out the tarts not stuffing them into her face ~ I only got four in the end! Wasn't she mad when I made her come upstairs. Well, somebody had to tighten my corset, I would have burst out the sides otherwise. She yanked me in so viciously, and I can tell you a tight corset on a full bladder is not to be sniffed at.

Drat that Ruby Gillis! I'd be twice as grateful to Anne for finally leaving Avonlea if she had managed to convince Ruby to go to Redmond with her. But at least I had the pleasure of seeing that yellow haired flirt walk home with Gilbert Blythe tonight. And I know why too.

Earlier this evening I saw him leap over our grand stone porch and into Mother's best topiary. An eight foot drop just to fetch Anne Shirley's fork. I don't know why she couldn't just eat with her fingers. But then she always did go out of her way to best everyone in her acquaintance. If I did the Queens course in two years, she had to do it in one. If get a diploma, she aims to get a degree. If I buy a china blue print, she has to buy a china blue print and have it made into a more becoming style. And now forks. She probably lost it on purpose just to keep Gilbert's attention on her. I am sure that's the real reason she's going to Redmond. Gilbert declares he's going to college and suddenly Anne's going to college too!

Not that I have the least bit of sympathy for Gil. He acts like perfect fool around her, while Anne pretends not to notice. For all she acts all high and mighty, I'm sure she loved it when Jane said now that Diana was engaged, her "bosom friend" was just bound to be next. That was when Anne stormed out to the porch. I only followed because I was wanting to sit on the swing seat and tuck up my feet. They are so swollen I can still see the marks where the straps of my shoes cut in. I swear I am retaining water. That Gillis nincompoop, I bet she got me the wrong tea!

I was about to ask Gil to bring me a glass of apple punch when Anne decided to drop her fork. Well, you'd think it was a baby the way Gilbert jumped after it. Then Anne went down the steps to fetch it, just as Gilbert climbed up the porch wall to give it back to her. Fortunately, Charlie turned up just after ~ which meant someone could bring me my drink ~ when Anne calls up, all innocently:

"Gilbert Blythe, how on earth did you get up there?"

And then he says: (I have the exact quote right here. I don't need to wait for someone to buy me Shakespeare, we Pyes have a substantial library.)

"On love's light wings did I o'erperch these walls, for stony limits cannot hold love out!"

Now I couldn't see Gilbert's expression as he said it because he had his back to me, but I saw Anne's as she came up the steps. And the look on her face! You'd think he'd been quoting Macbeth for the toil and trouble on her freckled little features. Not even Romeo is good enough for Anne Shirley these days, least of all Gilbert Blythe.

Perhaps Mrs. Harmon Andrews is right and Anne means to see if she can catch a rich man first. There might be something to that. Not that the Sloanes are rich, not by my standards, but they are considerably wealthier than the Blythes, and who did Anne go inside with but Charlie Sloane!

He never did come back with my punch.

Saturday August 28th, Allwinds Avonlea

Add quoting Shakespeare on list of things NEVER to do again.

Sunday August 29th on the eve of a Brand New Epoch

Dear Ida,

I have just had the queerest conversation with Marilla. This is the second time in a week she has sat on my bed. I could barely follow the words that came after, and write in you now in the hope for better understanding.

She wanted to know ~ again I can scarcely believe I am writing the words ~ what my feelings were for CHARLIE SLOANE. One might as well ask what one's feeling were for cod liver oil. While it might be good in and of itself, the best one could hope for were very small doses taken as infrequently as possible. I couldn't see Marilla having much sympathy with that character assessment, however. Especially on a Sunday. And while Sloanes are Sloanes, they are also only Sloanes. Not Pyes ~ or Mrs. Harmon Andrews.

But I am forgetting myself. With the sweet taste of that apple did I vanquish all bitterness toward that woman (I wanted to write good woman but my pen simply refused.) She has an unparalleled talent for putting me in a funk ~ do you suppose that could that pass for a compliment? Trust Gilbert to know how to cheer me again. He guessed I might be feeling blue as we are leaving for Kingsport tomorrow, and asked if I'd like to go for a ramble.

This was no ordinary ramble, Ida, for there amongst the pines and maples, all by its orphaned self, an apple tree stood. Not the mean, spindly sort one sometimes finds; more stick than leaf, more worm than fruit. This tree bore a manna from Heaven, with a flavour so wild and delightful that the commonplace seemed new to me again. I felt like God's first woman tasting the world's first apple. And here I've been describing Avonlea as my Eden!

Sometimes Gilbert and I are so alike. So why does he do things he knows will vex me. Wasn't it enough that half the members of A.V.I.S. were asking when he and I would be "setting a date?" But to add fuel to the fire by acting the Romeo! And in front of Josie Pye. At least I won't be around to hear how she'll twist that tale into something so distorted it bears no resemblance to the original. Which reminds me, she and I were wearing the same china-blue print when I arrived at the party. It was a delicate crepe dappled with maidenhair ferns, but Josie's was stretched so tautly about her person I mistook the pattern for peony heads.

Obviously, the power of the apple is wearing off. I feel like that princess lost in dreams and tomorrow will wake. No, that analogy is not quite right because I am definitely not waiting for my prince. If only someone believed me. Even Diana is giving me sideways hints. Nothing so nettling as the others, of course. Only sometimes she falls into saying, "when we are married, when we have children, when we are living side by side." And I feel so torn, because as much as I love my Eden I do want to go beyond its bounds. Yes, I do! I am glad to admit it, not only because it soothes my heart, but because it honours those I am leaving. They can let me go more easily if they see that I want to go. They love me well enough to do that ~ even impish nine year olds called Davy Keith.

I don't know who will have the harder time saying goodbye tomorrow. I have this uneasy feeling I should keep my trunk by me during the journey and open it every half hour, just in case the infuriating boy has hidden himself inside it. As I dwell in the splendour of Kingsport I shall have to keep hold of my love of the Island the same way. Hiding it inside me and coming to it in quiet moments. Pressing it close and breathing it in; the blue before me, the green below, and a long red road to lead me home…

Do you know, Diary, I'm glad Gilbert is coming after all. I thought if Marilla had some awkward question to ask about boys it would be about him. But Charlie Sloane! What on earth put that idea in her head? She is clearly as addled as I am, and could not stop fidgeting with her little gold ring. It was her mother's, and worn so thin it looks like a strand of Fairy's hair tied about her finger. I have always loved its simplicity, but the way she rubbed it as we talked ~ she is as bad as Diana!

And as good as Diana. I told Marilla that my darling girl would be tending to Matthew's grave in my stead, and then all thoughts of marriage and princes and Josie and Charlie were utterly forgotten. She held me the way she did when Matthew died, and it is something else to be held in the firm embrace of Marilla Cuthbert. One has the feeling that nothing and no one could harm you again. I can feel her protecting arms about me now and know I will carry her with me. Not in my trunk but in my heart.

And now it's time to tuck you within your dear little cover and myself in my dear little bed. Goodnight dear Ida! Goodnight little room! Let me dream the sweetest dreams in you for one last time.

Monday 30th August; Bright River Station

Almost left this notebook behind, and while I'm certain nothing on these pages would entertain Ma to any degree I can see it has its uses.

For example, I can busy myself with scribbling instead of listening to Charlie as we wait for the train to arrive. My new fountain pen writes easily enough, though I must watch I don't fall into Sloanish habits. Charlie has kept a diary since he was five. I found this out because he came to Allwinds late last evening. He wanted to know if there was any chance of me carrying his ham bone in my trunk because his was filled with diaries.

"About as much chance as Rachel Lynde declaring her Sapphic love for Marilla Cuthbert," I said.

Chrlie doesn't dare keep his books at home while he is away – though I don't know what scandals he wants to conceal. I've known him all my life and the worst thing he's ever done is write poetry To His Beloved Lady Teacher. I know because I had to listen to it. One hundred rhyming couplets.

Miss Stacey, Miss Stacey. You make my heart go racy.

Apparently, it is apples for Anne. At least she didn't look as though she wanted to throw one at my head. I admit with all this romance in the air (supposing you could characterise the courtship of Diana and Fred as romantic, though Mr. Irving and Miss Lavendar certainly are) there was a part of me that entertained the foolish dream of proposing to Anne before we left for Redmond. I told myself it would ease Miss Cuthbert's mind knowing I would be there for her girl – though that's nothing to the peace it would give me.

If I could just get Anne to look at me the way she did after Miss Lavendar's wedding.

I might as well make a clean breast of it and admit I have been preoccupied with discovering exactly what it was I did that day, and whether I will be able to do it again. I'm not ashamed of my preoccupation either. I know any fellow would feel the same if those silvern eyes looked at him the way hers looked at me.

Anne, Anne. I mean to win you if I can.

I will definitely be taking this notebook with me now. Or burning it.

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