The Other Ingleside Twins
4.3 Naming Shirley

"You knew?" questioned Gilbert.

"After the night of the storm, it was always a possibility," Anne responded matter of fact.

Gilbert nodded. "I should saddle the horse for Hopetown", he said. He knew it was his responsibility but was also annoyed, if Maurice was moving to Nova Scotia they could have delivered the child themselves.

"Sit down Gilbert" said Anne, taking command. Gilbert looked rebellious for a moment, then sat.

"I will not send a child - your child- to Hopetown" she continued, "Besides, it's too late to go today. And I need to think. If nothing else, he must be fed and changed. Go get a bottle from your office and I will make up some formula."

Within an hour, Anne and Gilbert were once more sitting in the parlour over a fresh pot of tea, with a well-fed baby between them, making decisions that would affect the child for the rest of his life. Despite the circumstances of his birth, the discussion was very much that any parent would have of a child.

"He's curled his hand around edge of the blanket like Jem used to," Anne observed. "Walter and the twins never did, but he could almost be Jem right now."

"Except his colouring is different" responded Gilbert, "Though in this light, you'd hardly notice his mother was Tahitian."

"He could almost pass for one of our own", said Anne still pondering, "though no one would believe I had two children in such close succession."

"We could always adopt him?" suggested Gilbert.

"We could," mused Anne, "but the wee lad won't know his mother, he should at least know his father. Oh, it's impossible. At least,"she continued, "Susan isn't here. We can take a few days to work out the best way forward."

As if on cue, the door opened and Susan walked in.

"Don't worry, it's only me" she called out as she walked in "I couldn't stand another moment with such a razor tongued person as my cousin. I did my duty, but the second she began to get better I hightailed myself back to Ingleside. They need me there says I and there I will return….." Susan paused taking in the scene before her. The doctor, looking ragged, a very pregnant Anne, and a baby between them.

"Why Mrs Doctor dear," she exclaimed "you're downstairs! And you had another baby! I didn't think you were that far gone when I left or I'd have stayed, cousin or no cousin."

She hesitated, took a breath and continued "And here you are in the family way again, you can't feed one baby while expecting another, remember how hard it was with Walter when you were expecting the twins? Don't you worry, Mrs Doctor dear, Susan is at the helm."

In the blink of a moment, Susan walked in, collected the baby and had him cuddled up against her breast "Oh, he's bonny" she said "and he favours you, doctor. You sit right there Mrs doctor dear, and focus on the child that you have growing in your belly. Susan is here now; I'll look after this one!"

As she spoke, Susan took the baby into the kitchen to prepare some fresh formula. Anne and Gilbert looked at each other in shock.

"How could she think he's mine?" said Anne looking at her belly.

"Children have been born six months apart before," Gilbert observed.

"Yes, six, but not three" responded Anne practically.

"Perhaps she thinks he's older?" Gilbert pondered.

"Susan might, but we'll never convince the rest of the village. How will we explain it?" Anne pondered.

"Perhaps we won't have to, perhaps we don't try to explain at all. If people don't ask….?" Gilbert said slowly, leaving his thought unfinished.

Anne considered this then added, "It's a pity we named Walter, Walter."

Gilbert looked perplexed.

"No, I don't mean I don't like Walter's name," explained Anne, responding to Gilbert's look, "only that if we named this boy Walter, after my father, everyone would know he was ours. It may stop any questions."

"We could name him Shirley?", suggested Gilbert.

"Shirley" It's perfect," responded Anne.