My apologies for this. I had a baby in May 2020 and my brain has been complete mush for five months.
The next morning Gilbert effortlessly hopped out of a parked buggy and turned to offer his wife a stable hand. With the glorious woman securely delivered he then focused his attention on assisting the driver with the task of unloading and moving the luggage; taking it curbside to counter for tagging.
Anne stood to the side, clutching their smaller personal items, and surveyed the platform and beyond. The unseasonable cold snap had lifted; the warming sun easily melting the snow into beautiful spring-time puddles and once again revealing the new green grass. Vienna had become the pit of her journey but, now resigned to her reality, she quickly realized what she had missed. In an attempt to reconcile her feeling toward the place, Anne allowed the moment of idleness to take her mind back to the sights and sounds she had hazily maneuvered through. A gentle tug on her elbow stirred her and short minutes later, she and Gilbert had located their carriage on the fully boarded train. The locomotive pulled away slowly from the station and Anne bid the city a silent farewell; promising not to squander again.
Her husband nonchalantly offered up the seat nearest the window, as he had on most occasions during which they'd taken daytime rail. While the train sped towards the burgeoning range, he worked his way through a German newspaper. Only fragments of sentences could be understood; however, he deemed it sufficient practice at learning the language. Meanwhile, his wife stared whimsically towards the changing landscape. Suddenly she bent to retrieve her journal and jotted down quick lines of effortless poetry. When it was completed the work was signed, dated, and then presented to Gilbert, whom diverted his attention from the newspaper to the booklet and read the lines thoughtfully.
His face lit up with a sweet smile and he nudged her gently. "This is more like you, darling."
Hotel Hirsch, a short walk away from the banks of the Salzac River and nestled in between the bosom-like green hills, welcomed the Doctor and his wife with glad tidings. They were shown to a room - a fair bit bigger than what they had expected - with a featured view of the medieval fortress which loomed high up over the city. Across the room, the clock on the mantle indicated that it was nearing dinner time and so Anne and Gilbert hastily arranged their items, anxious to settle in with a meal. With linked-together fingers, the couple wandered down to the hotel's main floor for restaurant recommendations.
Out on the narrow street the lowering sun cast long shadows and the sensuous sound of violin could be heard from a nearby square. Anne was delighted with the location of their lodging; their current level of travel experience brought about a sincere appreciation for proximity. Feet ached less, parcels were stored with ease, and meals were simpler to come by.
The Blythes found the suggested restaurant within ten minutes and, an hour later, the sated couple returned to the cobblestone. Gone were the shadows of dusk and now the dark was illuminated by the romantic yellow glow of lamp light.
On their first full day in the land of Mozart, Anne and Gilbert were out early. There had been no lazy loving in bed that morning. In fact, this occurred the night prior. Refreshed from the day's rest on the train, they each had a lingering soak, taking turns lathering and rinsing. One gentle caress turned into several gentle caresses and soon they tumbled onto the squeaky old bed. Gilbert's stamina was privately one of his proudest traits and he loved Anne late into the evening. After, they sat up against the pillows chatting and planning. It was decided that their top priority was initiating the telegram communication. From there their matched curiosity would somehow bring them to the fortress.
They hurriedly walked the route to the post office, which had been plotted earlier by a member of the hotel staff.
"I can't recall, dearest, were they to be with Diana now? Or at Green Gables still?"
Gilbert choked out a laugh. "Our brood is almost definitely at Lone Willow. They are a rambunctious bunch," he reminded.
Anne giggled in response. "Among many other wonderful qualities, Gilbert. Davy's are a handful, too," she sighed and continued conversationally. "You are probably correct though. Susan is to bring Shirley to Green Gables for his birthday. If Rachel had any choice in the matter she'd have convinced Marilla of the need for a rest."
"One can't fault Rachel's very own duty to have Marilla's best interest in mind," Gilbert added.
"No, indeed not. After all these years we should consider ourselves fortunate to have her, although my former self would have rued the day that was ever said of Mrs. Lynde," Anne commented, her head tilted slightly as she recalled her first encounter with the offending woman.
Gilbert hummed his agreement and then, "And so, Anne-girl, where are you headed with this?"
"I think we ought to send three telegrams," Anne replied, serious and decided.
"Three?" he sputtered.
"Yes. One to Lone Willow, one to Green Gables, and one to Lowbridge."
"Anne, there's no need to send two to Avonlea. We can send one to Diana and have her 'phone through any messages to Green Gables," Gilbert retorted, his tone a large degree more decided than his wife's.
The banter continued for a short while longer until they rounded the entrance of the post office. If asked, any passersby would comment that the couple were merely engaged in a spirited conversation. When Anne and Gilbert approached the desk she turned to him with an expectant expression on her face. Gilbert noted it but then firmly requested two, only, telegrams with similar messages. The recipients were beseeched to send a cheerful word or any news to the hotel - and would they please relay the same message to any other loved ones.
With not much more than a small protest to humour her husband, Anne clasped a dainty hand through Gilbert's elbow and turned with him out of the door. Gilbert, on the other hand, thought to himself that Anne was a touch too submissive. Certainly their habits of some passionate discussion had survived throughout their marriage. Everyone at Ingleside knew when a topic was becoming heated, and once realized they all knew that any other discussion was futile. He felt certain that Anne would've snubbed him and paid for the third telegram herself. Gilbert could not decide if he felt saddened or gladdened by it all. His mind retraced the debates of late and discovered that more often than not, she'd allowed him to win. The brief moment of concern passed quickly as Anne launched into other small talk. His final thought on the matter was to monitor the behaviour.
With their first order of business taken care of the two of them were left to resolve the remainder of the day. This of course meant following the streets to the off-white beacon which stood out against the blueness of the morning sky. When Anne and Gilbert approached an impressive hill, not quite a mountain, they did so with tipped heads and with faces contorted by squinted eyes. Anne was certainly glad to have switched out her hat at the last moment that morning, instead opting for more practical adornment.
Gilbert turned his face toward Anne with a glint of challenge in his eyes. "You've got on your good walking boots, dryad?"
Anne cast a quick glance at him with a distracted nod, not even noticing the use of the long-forgotten endearment. She took several steps away from Gilbert towards an area sprawling with green shrubbery and trees, and gestured to a wooden sign.
"I'm not fluent in German but does this say a train?"
Gilbert casually strolled to stand at her side again.
"Yes..." he trailed, then curiously moved past the heavily treed area to find a small building and beyond it, a lengthy and steep set of railcar tracks.
He beckoned for Anne to join him on the other side. "See here, Anne. It is a train - of sorts."
Anne's look was puzzled. "And it goes straight up the hill?"
The abrupt sound of whirring pulleys alerted them back to the building; the train car ascending the sharp slope with its passengers peering out in mystified observation. At the same time, at the hills crest, the descending car began its journey. As the arriving compartment came to a halt, a cheerful foursome passed along them and entered into the building.
"Should we instead try this?" Anne continued.
Gilbert was still studying the scene before them, no doubt working through the mechanics of the water balanced funicular machine. He tore his gaze from the train.
"I think we must," he replied with a cock-eyed grin.
On the next run up the hill, Anne and Gilbert were enlivened passengers. The car trudged up the incline with a slow pace, allowing them several moments to look upon the city below. The winding streets, ancient buildings, high mountain peaks and low river valley spurred the thrill.
They passed through the tall gates of the aged white-walled Hohensalzburg Fortress to find very few fellow sightseers throughout the expanse. It was quiet - but a welcome quiet. Anne and Gilbert were able to easily make their way around; choosing to move about in self-guided exploration. Behind the walls, on the outer edge of the fortress, they discovered what was once a thriving village for three hundred inhabitants. The Blythes moved along the bakery and village kitchens, poking their heads into ancient rooms and admiring the artifacts within them. They read and learned about the issue of dependable water sources, and then of the innovative Venetian-modelled cisterns which were installed.
Once the tour of the outer fortress was more or less complete, Anne and Gilbert went to the higher floors, into what was the Palace and main residence. There they took in the impressively ornate chambers within the various wings of the palace. Anne found herself particularly drawn to the Golden Chamber. Its ceiling, meant to depict a starry night sky, had her in exclamations which reminded Gilbert of long-ago times before he had any claim to her. Gilbert only laughed and leaned in to press a quick kiss to her cheek - because he could.
Eventually they found the gory recesses of the castle. Anne shivered as they stepped away from the dark, damp dungeon and back into the light of the day; the contrast almost blinding.
Gilbert noticed the shiver. "Are you warm enough?"
Anne startled. "Oh-yes. Sorry, Gil. I was just imagining being locked up in there - to be chained to the wall with only crusts of stale bread and dirty water to live off of, and the rats to keep you company."
"And probably the least heinous of crimes would have you landed there," Gilbert joined in.
Anne's look turned distant. "Sometimes I forget that I lived through eleven years of conditions which were not much better," she murmured quietly. Gilbert turned to her in shock.
"Well, we were never chained, Gilbert, but yes, often there were only scraps of food left. And while I never befriended any, I certainly shared sleeping quarters with the mice. I think one ran across my face once. Oh, and the lice!" she said aghast by the memory. Another shudder powered through her.
"You've told me a great deal about it, sweetheart, but to compare it to a dungeon! You're not exaggerating?"
"Perhaps a little," Anne said with a voice which belied the very statement. "When I was a home child I was usually busy with minding the children and running the housework but in the orphanage there was a broom closet that seemed to always be available to me. Gilbert, I'm sure you can imagine how often the mistress sent me to languish there."
"Oh, darling," Gilbert said in utter devastation, wrapping his arms around her tiny frame.
"It's alright, dearest. Truly," she said into his shoulder. "I'm here with you and it's a beautiful day. Let's not spoil it, Gilbert."
Reluctantly, Gilbert released his wife from his hold and ushered her towards the exit. "I think I've had enough of this for the day," he muttered.
The trip back to the bottom of the hill was less enjoyable. Anne continued her attempts to bring Gilbert out of his dismay. Gilbert knew that she wished for him to move from it and tried gallantly to comply with her request. Still, when he didn't think Anne would notice, he would study his beloved with a mournful look.
"Well now, how about some lunch?" Anne pronounced cheerfully when she and Gilbert walked out of the small train building.
"Certainly," Gilbert said after he had cleared his throat. "We passed a food market on the way here. Would you care to trace back?"
Anne nodded enthusiastically. Together they walked towards the wafting aromas of nourishment. They came across a station which seemed to exclusively sell whole fish on a stick. Anne made a face when Gilbert stopped to place his order.
"It's not that different from what we have eaten at home," Gilbert laughed.
"Yes, but usually ours is laid out on a beautiful platter and baked in salt. I can't imagine that this would be nearly as palatable," Anne replied, moodily eyeing up the piles of stecklerfisch.
"Girls," he lamented. "Listen, we'll get two and if you don't enjoy it, I will eat it for you," Gilbert intoned, as though he were speaking to Nan and Di.
"Well, alright then," she allowed. Moments later Gilbert handed her the fish. "How is one to eat this? Start with the face?"
Gilbert brought the stick up to his mouth and tore a chunk from the middle of the fish, his eyes mirthful. "Anywhere you choose to, Anne-girl."
Anne bit into her fish and chewed experimentally. "It's not...terrible," she admitted.
They began to walk slowly down the street.
"Honestly, have you never tried fish on a stick?"
"No!" She went on to explain, "I'm not a boy and thus have rarely fished. You think Marilla or Susan would allow for such meals?"
Gilbert shook his head. "We can't have our girls grow up without it. We'll have a bon fire and roast a fresh catch of fish."
Anne laughed. "Very well. I'll remind you of that, as well. You've got a running list," she teased. Gilbert winked and went in for another piece of his meal.
They continued their stroll, occasionally slowing to glance into shop windows. One store, a dull yellow building, brought Gilbert to a full stop. He was grinning when he let Anne in on his musings.
"In medical school, a classmate of mine used to exclusively drink schnapps." He snorted as the memory became clearer. "He would turn up his nose to anything else, actually. His parents had taken him to the Continent during his last summer before starting medical school. He said the schnapps in Salzburg was what got him hooked."
Anne's look was amused. "So long as you don't follow in his footsteps and make a habit of drinking it, I suppose it would be sacrilege not to sample it." She opened the door and held it for him.
They passed through the narrow entryway and into the Sporer spirithousen. A man roughly their age greeted them in German but quickly fell into broken English when his customers returned the greeting. He allowed the couple to wander and study the bottles which were neatly lined up on the mahogany shelves. Several minutes had passed when he broke the silence and offered Anne and Gilbert a taste of his most popular liquors. After a bit of back and forth, he poured out four schnapps glasses - two apple and two pear. The Blythes stood along the counter and were first taken back by the sickly sweet aroma of the liqueur. They each sipped their samples.
Gilbert set down his glass. "I think I prefer the apple one. What about you, Anne?"
"A Blythe enjoying apple," Anne dryly remarked, and then added in a thoughtful tone, "no, I think the pear is for me."
"Then that does it. A bottle of each, please," he directed to the man behind the counter whom nodded and began to bag the purchase.
Anne stepped closer to her husband. "Gilbert, I thought we were sampling only," she murmured, casting her eyes up to his.
He brought his face to her ear. "A little won't hurt on holiday. I promise I'll return home the same respectable husband and physician the good people of Glen St Mary know me as."
"I wasn't truthfully worried about that, Gilbert," Anne rebutted but added, "although what we did in London was not what most would find a 'respectable husband and physician' to be."
"That was only a man relishing in his fantastical ability to be alone with his wife. I will admit that it went further than I planned," he muttered and then quirked an eyebrow in concern. "Are you really so ashamed of my behaviour?"
Anne pulled her face away to gaze into his and shook her head.
The schnapps was to become one of the reasons why a very giggly Anne fell back onto her elbows later in the evening. She and Gilbert had heard, via an auspicious conversation with another pair of hotel guests, of the trails, castles, and abbey on Mönchsberg. Together they had packed a small picnic, complete with schnapps, and climbed the walking paths to a peaceful grassy lookout.
The length of her body was stretched out languidly, her hat discarded to the top of their basket, and she cradled her head in her hands. She wore an unreadable expression; was it concentration or perhaps wistfulness? From across the picnic blanket, Gilbert likewise removed his hat and studied her. She appeared to be at peace and yet didn't seem to be too high up in the clouds.
"Where are you at, sweetheart?" he broached.
"Far, far away. On a little red island across the ocean," she lightly replied.
Gilbert's face fell. So it was a wistful Anne tonight. "I'm sure everyone is right as rain back at home. By tomorrow we should have word," he comforted.
Anne turned to him with a little smile. "I am not so homesick today," she softly informed him. "I was comparing the birdsong." She paused and listened to happy chatter. "You hear that? It must be a warbler. I've heard those calls at home."
Gilbert directed his gaze to the treetops over their heads and joined in. After a few minutes of enjoyment, he laughed. "Of all the times you and I have traipsed outdoors together, have we never considered the birds?"
"We've loved all of nature," Anne responded, a trifle defensive. "Although it was more so my imaginings that we followed."
Gilbert's content sigh was his only acknowledgment.
"What an adventurous life a bird must lead," Anne mused as she sat up, sweeping her legs to the side. Gilbert sat up then as well and reached for the pear schnapps. He poured a generous glass and handed it to her. She drank from it and began to weave the tales of the bird, and when the dusk was about to turn to twilight a wet drop fell from the trees and noisily landed directly on top of Gilbert's curls. Anne howled with laughter as her wide-eyed husband frantically reached into his pocket for a handkerchief and attempted to wipe the dropping from his hair. It was no use. They hastily packed their belongings and worked down the side of the hill and back to their room. For the second night in a row, Anne poured water over Gilbert's head; only this time it was tepid and far less romantic.
Anne stood at their window gauging the morning temperature outside. Her heavier outer and under things had been consistently skipped over and were therefore taking up valuable space in her trunk; so much so that she considered sending it all back to the Island with their next inevitable shipment of purchases. These mountain mornings, however, brought about weather of the like she'd never prepared for and she was debating a coat when Gilbert bounded in through the door.
"Everything is secured for our walking tour this morning, Anne. And, I stopped by the reception desk." He whipped out a telegram envelope from the inside pocket of his suit jacket.
Her eyes shone with excitement. "You haven't read it yet, have you?" She reached out to take it from him.
Gilbert shook his head and teased, "I didn't think you'd ever forgive me if I did."
Anne rolled her eyes at him while reaching for her letter opener and then promptly sat upon the edge of the bed to slit the envelope open. She read quietly and bit her lip. He looked at her questioningly.
"It only says that everyone is healthy and that they're readying the fields for spring seeding. The children are looking forward to their reunion next week."
Gilbert swallowed a sigh. "It's not the same as a letter, I know." He read over the short message. "They do explicitly state that they wish us happiness."
Anne forced herself to straighten up and smile. "And that's what we are. Very well, I will follow you out, Gilbert. Is it cool enough for a coat?"
"I don't think so. It's warming up quite nicely," he said as he moved towards the door.
They were just over the threshold and into the hallway when Anne blurted, "Oh, was there nothing from Susan and Shirley?" When Gilbert confirmed in the negative Anne smiled. "Perhaps later, then."
The tour was to commence at the gardens just outside of Mirabell Palace; along the steps with the black iron gate. Their guide was surprisingly a young woman with golden hair and a chipper, sing-songy sort of voice. To say she was enthusiastic about Salzburg was an understatement, and bafflingly the woman seemed to hail from England; her distinct British accent a clear indicator. Anne was enchanted by the woman.
She led her small group along the tidy white-rock pathways. They passed the many fountains and statues, and memorably through the belittling gnome park. From the ornate gardens they journeyed passed the house which had once been home to Mozart. Other stops included the haunting Saint Sebastian Cemetery, the famous Mozartplace, and of course they had to wrangle through the bottlenecked crowding to catch a glimpse of Mozart's birthplace.
They squeezed together to walk along the cobbled Stone Alley. In this instance, the Blythes were happy to be leaning in closely to view the small placard along the wall of a nondescript house, for it was the residence of priest and writer, Joseph Mohr. Here the group joined together in an impromptu German and English mishmash of Silent Night. In the many following Christmases, the memory of this rendition would continue to bring Anne to tears.
Conveniently at eleven o'clock, the group gathered at the foot of the impressive Glockenspiel Bell Tower for its second chime of the day before breaking for lunch.
It was two in the afternoon when Anne and Gilbert finally pulled their shoes off; relieved sighs reverberating the room. Anne plopped four cushions at the end of the bed in order to elevate the pairs of aching feet. Together they were a heap of exhaustion and as such, they fell asleep quickly. Sometime later Anne lifted her head from Gilbert's chest, rousing to see him still snoring lightly. After so many weeks of relaxation, she still took issue with unnecessarily waking her husband for he had far earned the right to sleep. Instead she freshened up and silently exited the room.
The hotel's desk had good news: only yesterday Shirley had made fast friends with a kitten which he had rescued. The darling boy had no intention to part with it.
It's been proven that there is absolutely zero way that I could ever pretend to write like Maud and so I'm not attempting to. With that being said, I have no editors scolding me for adding racier bits to a T rated piece of work.
We know that it's impossible for Anne and Maria to have known each other because of reasons. Reasons such as: Anne is fictional. Maria is not. Anne is in Salzburg in 1905. Maria was born in Vienna in 1905. BUT, by the powers vested in me by fanfiction dot net, I am able to create my own barely mentioned character whom happens to be kind of similar to the beloved Julie Andrews version. You're welcome, VonTrapp.