In Unrequited Love I explored what caused Marilla Cuthbert and John Blythe to break up, just what went wrong between them? Now in this new story For Ever and a Day I'm turning that on its head. Instead of quarrelling and remaining estranged for the rest of their lives, John and Marilla make up and continue their relationship. That of course has ramifications. If they have children together then a certain dashing curly headed young man is never born. Will a certain redhead ever make it to Avonlea? Read on to find out.
This story starts part way through Chapter 6 of Unrequited Love.
For Ever and a Day*
... "Oh, you're just being annoying now. You think I'm ugly and stupid." She yelled over her shoulder at him and ran off.
"No Mar, I don't think that …" He trailed off, she had run out of earshot.
Marilla ran back home sobbing and ran smack into her brother Matthew. He caught her as she brushed past him. "Hey, Marilla what's wrong? Did John say something to upset you?"
"It's nothing Matthew, leave me be."
"It doesn't look like nothing, you're crying." He produced a somewhat dirty handkerchief from his pocket. It smelt of his sweat and cow. She took it gratefully nevertheless and blew her nose. "Come into the barn, so we can talk." She followed him in and they sat on a pile of hay. "What happened?"
"Oh, it's just boys can be so stupid sometimes. Sorry Matthew, obviously I don't mean you."
He waved the slur on his gender away. "Go on."
"He as good as told me I was ugly last week, not as attractive as Jane Pye and Mary Gillis."
"I'm sure he didn't mean it that way, Marilla. I know for a fact that he thinks you're the prettiest girl in Avonlea."
She looked at him in amazement, "He does? Well today he told me I shouldn't be friends with Rachel. How dare he presume to choose my friends, Matthew?"
"You say it often enough Marilla, you know she's a terrible gossip." He held up his hand to stop her, "No, I don't mean you can't be friends with her. You don't have to do everything he suggests, but you have to admit she is a busybody."
Rachel called by the next day, Marilla didn't know how she did it, but she knew about the quarrel. Marilla couldn't tell Rachel she was one of the topics they'd argued about, so the dispute seemed particularly trivial.
John walked by a couple of days later, whistling a jaunty tune, Marilla heard him before she saw him. Marilla hated to quarrel, so she left the washing and ran out to him before he disappeared. "John!"
He turned to see her, she was dishevelled, her hair awry and her arms covered in soap suds. Privately he smiled, only Marilla Cuthbert would be so unashamed as to speak to him in such a state. The rest of the village girls would have wiped off the suds first and fixed their hair. It was one of the things he most admired in her. "Marilla?"
She paused for a moment trying to catch her breath. "Sorry for losing my temper the other day. I had a talk with Matthew and he was able to reassure me. I thought," she giggled nervously "that you were saying that the other girls were prettier than I."
His eyes widened in amazement, "Oh, no, that's not what I meant at all. I mean you asked me and" he paused, thinking back "I guess I can see how could have taken it that way. I'm so sorry. I surely didn't mean that. I mean yes, they are handsome, in a boring sort of way. Nothing like you though."
Marilla smiled, pleased to have that misunderstanding out of the way. "So, where are you off to?"
"I'm just going into town, I have to run a few errands for my mother. Can you walk with me?" Marilla looked back sadly. "Sorry I have to finish off the washing. I told Mama I would help." She glanced down at her arms, noticing that they were chilly as the damp water dried on her skin. "Oh, look at me, I'm all sudsy. You must think I look a fright."
John smiled at her. "Well I did wonder, but I guessed it was washing day. Say Marilla, would you come with me to the next church dance? I had such fun last time we went. We could make up a foursome with Rachel and Thomas if you like? I know you and Rachel are good friends.
"Sounds lovely, John. I would really enjoy that, what's the date again?" Marilla already knew the date, she wondered if he did.
"I think it's the Saturday after next, isn't it," she nodded. "All right, I had better get going, Ma needs the supplies I'm fetching. See you soon."
She waved him goodbye and watched him walk up the lane listening to the tune he was whistling, until he was out of earshot. She felt so much happier about the previous week, it had been weighing on her mind. Uh oh! She remembered the washing; her Mama would not be pleased if she didn't get in on the line quickly. It had to dry before sundown.
Over the dinner table that night her Mama questioned her about the gossip she had overheard in town that day. "Are you and John Blythe quarrelling Marilla?"
"No Mama, we're fine. We had a little misunderstanding, but we've sorted it out now. He's asked me to the next church dance, Mama. May I go?"
"Of course, you may darling. Have you got anything to wear?" The women had a brief discussion about clothes while the men ate their dinner in silence.
The next day she paid a visit to Rachel. Ever the gossip, Rachel was eager for news of her tiff with John. She almost looked disappointed when Marilla told her it was all sorted. "I guess I was being a bit sensitive."
"Maybe it was your time of the month, Marilla?"
Marilla batted her chum, "Rachel!"
"Well I know I can be a bit delicate at that time myself Marilla. A bit inclined to take offense at innocuous comments."
Marilla considered her comment and counted back on her fingers. "No, I don't think that was it. I'm not due for a few days yet."
"Well I'm pleased you settled the disagreement, has he invited you to the next Church dance?"
Marilla smiled, "Yes he has. I just have to work out what I'm going to wear. Mama is helping me. John wondered if you and Thomas would like to accompany us, we could make a foursome. It would be jolly." Rachel smiled, she thought the four of them could have a bit of fun together.
*William Shakespeare, As You Like It.