Windy Willows, Spooks Lane
...it's bad enough that you are missing two days at Redmond, but I thought we had decided to be horribly sensible about expenses? Our House of Dreams won't buy itself. And purchasing a return ticket to Caribou just to meet my ferry is the very definition of an Unlawful Extravagance! A son of Avonlea should know better, Gilbert Blythe. I feel I ought to tell you not to. But the only words my pen wants to write are ~
YES! YES! YES! I would be thrilled if you should meet me at the Harbour on Thursday. Thrilled, elated, overjoyed, bursting ~ always and ever bursting ~ with happiness!
...I've done more than that, Anne-girl, I've reserved us a first class car for the return to Kingsport. You know what that means?
YOU AND I AND NO ONE ELSE FOR EIGHT WHOLE HOURS.
For the first time I wish the journey would take twice as long. And not for the first time I am imagining your face, lips pursed in a tight little knot, looking very much like Marilla when she discovers Davy paid a halfpenny more for his peppermints because he bought them at Blairs not Lawsons.
Well, I plan to kiss that mouth until you are quite undone. Besides, sweetheart, once we arrive in Kingsport we'll scarcely have a moment alone together. You are to go to Mount Holly on Friday with the Blakes. I won't see you again until the party on Saturday and you're leaving on Sunday morning. So go easy on a fellow and let him splurge a few dollars on his girl if he wants to. Those eight hours with you may be most we have together for a good long while...
...and so thrilling to know you will be standing at the end of the gangway waiting for me. I shall do as you ask and go bare headed. I would think twice about such a request in this upstanding old town, but I feel certain the good people of Caribou will survive the scandal. I adore the thought of your eyes on me as I make my way to you. The sense of anticipation, it lives within me, and only grows with each new day.
Everything anticipates you, Gil. The filmy gloves that lay in my drawer waiting for you to slip them from my hands. The lily of the valley scent sitting innocently on my dresser that intends to draw you closer to my neck. Even the kid skin boots I shall wear to the Gordon's party are lined up in sweet expectation. Though what I really look forward to is kicking them off and tucking my stockinged feet under my skirts, so that I might nestle even closer to you.
What anticipates you most of all is a certain green and ivory dress. For too long it has been sitting in my closet, unloved and untouched. I hear it beat like a Tell-Tale Heart, but instead of baleful warnings it calls for YOU ~and those wondrous hands of yours. Mmmmm... I experienced the most delicious shiver just now as a dream and a promise entwined with each other. I see myself standing before you in our carriage. My arms are above my head and then ever so slowly you peel the ivory shift from me and place your lips where chiffon had been.
I hope they have first-class locks on those first class carriage doors. But honestly, Gil, I would have been content to crouch with you in the back of the caboose. What does it matter where we are so long as we're together? Just think another Summer lays at our feet! Another Summer to wander over the Island with you. To love you. To know you. I can't help but wonder if there is anywhere else you are intent on showing me?
I have an idea ~but please say if you'd rather not~ that it would be... that is, I would like very much if we could... well, I would like to... read my letters to you. And I want very much for you to read your letters to me.
What do you think, Gilbert? I have this secret (no more!) wish that the two of us could each take our beloved epistles to the White Sands cavern ~perhaps not even as far as that, perhaps to the apple tree~ and read them aloud to each other? I long to hear you speak the words you've written. I dream about it. I know there is already so much to look forward to. Marilla and Rachel, the twins and the Wrights. Not to mention Small Anne-Cordelia's chubby pink toes to adorn with kisses and dancing ring o' rosies with little Fred. And the White Way of Delight and the Lake of Shining Waters and as many verdant glooms and winding mossy ways as the Moon-Queen herself could wish for. But I cannot think of Summer without thinking of you.
I see us sitting round a friendly fire in our secret cave and you hand me my bundle of letters with a sheepish grin. And then I take your own from a knapsack I have filled with the bounty of Green Gables kitchen ~and two exceedingly competitive cooks. I pass my letters over and we bask in the firelight on your McLeod tartan rug and read our words to each other... Doesn't that sound a blissful way to spend an afternoon? If I could just conjure a little rain for the occasion or one of those trembling Summer storms, I believe it would be perfect.
But only if you think so, too. It wouldn't be half as unsatisfying to have just the one of us reading. The magic only happens if we are TOGETHER. Look at all the words that it encompasses~
Thereto I pledge thee my troth. But that's magic right there, the very promise of a marriage vow is written in the word together!
Considering the long journey ahead I might plan out some more word games to keep ourselves occupied. Otherwise, Gil, I don't know what I might do...
So let's agree that we've done with word games, because I'm not wasting a moment of those hours with a pen in my hand when I can have you.
...what am I going to do with you, Gilbert Blythe?
(I'll leave you to discover that on our train journey next week!)
It's been over a week since I sent my last letter, it's not possible you haven't received it by now. I am beginning to think that you wish I hadn't done what I've done. Worst of all that you're angry with me. We never really talked about it, I hoped my letter would help you understand. But if you don't reply I might as well howl to the wind.
I appreciate how busy you'll be setting exams, I'm under a welter of them myself. And while I don't wish to press you to write if you can't, I'm finding it mighty hard to concentrate with both eyes watching for the post.
You must know by now that you can tell me anything, I'll willingly bear it. But I have never been able to bear you avoiding me.
I love you,
Please forgive this lax correspondent. I am ashamed to know you have been waiting so anxiously, especially as I have only the most unromantic and unoriginal excuse of being down with a nasty cold. A cold in the head is an immoral thing in mid June! I want to be under the soft green sky behind the hemlocks, I want to gaze at the silver-white moon hanging over the Storm King, I want to take in the haunting perfume of the lilacs under my window, or the frosty pencil stemmed irises on my table. They arrived for me this morning, Gil, and are a joy to behold. And I certainly mean to behold them just as soon as this cold relinquishes its hold on poor, congested me.
Firstly, to put you at ease, I understand completely. Everything is how it should be. I have been playing too long in dreams instead of realising that we are both grown-ups. It was bound to happen. It embarrasses me to admit that I'd never thought of it before. Anne Shirley! Who can conjure fairies from fireplaces and you from the stars! But there it is, it is done, and you are the rock upon which I shall make our home. There is nothing to regret, Gilbert, nothing at all.
I do regret putting my oar in with Hazel. She has just now poured scorn upon my already heavy head. Storming into my room and declaring she is now madly in love with Terry Garland, when last month she admitted she longed to be free of him. For the briefest moment I wanted to slap her adorable rose-tinted cheek. Thankfully my sense of humour prevailed. Or rather my sense of Marilla.
There was Hazel wailing about in the depths of despair, informing me that~
'I didn't know what suffering was, and it is terrible, terrible!'
My reply might have come straight from, How to Bring Up Imaginative Orphans by Miss M. Cuthbert. I said to Hazel, cool as you like~
'Then don't suffer.'
I intend to apply this advice to myself as well. I won't waste a moment picking my motives to pieces or try to justify my meddling. All I wanted was extricate two young people from a promise that neither of them wanted. I also know I liked the idea of casting myself as a champion who would save them both from their folly. But the folly has been mine, and I hereby promise to keep my poor red nose out of other people's love affairs forever more.
Suddenly I feel wiser and a thousand years older and I still have eighteen geography essays to grade. And you should be memorising the function, structure and distribution of cranial nerves not dallying in the letters of a sneezing head mistress.
So I shall say good night to you, or good day ~or even good luck if you should ever feel in need of extra.
Miss A. Shirley
Dearest Miss Shirley,
The letter you sent me might fool some people but it doesn't fool me. I know you, Anne. And I want all of you. Not just the parts that suit my own self.
I am leaving Kingsport in a little over a week, and I don't want to go with a heavy heart. I am sorry if this should cause you to think me more selfish than I already am. But I don't care about the irises, nor Hazel Marr, nor am I especially bothered by the ten common symptoms of syphilllus on the nervous system.
I'm asking you and I'll keep asking you, into the summer and all through autumn if I must, that you remain true to the girl that I love. Please write me the sort of letter I know is inside you, and soon.
P.S. Forget Paget's Cure All Tonic, you might as well drink cordial. You want a camomile compress for your abdomen and a eucalyptus steambath for your head -Doctor's orders.
*Caribou is a port on mainland Canada that is closest to PEI
*the Gordons are Phil Blake's parents, Mount Holly is their Bolingbroke residence
*Tell-Tale Heart is from Edgar Allen Poe
*Moon-Queen reference from To a Nightingale by Keats
*MacLeod tartan rug first mentioned in ch 10, Redmond Diaries -the fourth year
*Anne's June 13th letter liberally sprinkled with passages from ch 28, Anne of Windy Willows
Thanks again for your beautiful comments! I suspect this is not the weekend in May you were hoping for. You will discover exactly what happened in the next chapter, which I think will mark the end of this story.