So, I was talking with an Anne-girl about chapter 18 in Anne of Green Gables (otherwise known as Anne to the Rescue) and this idea took root and began to flourish. This story takes its beginnings in chapter 40 in Anne of the Island ~ I'm sure you know where I'm going with this. It's in the Ms because I don't know where it will lead, but if I start here then I won't censor myself.
Here are three chapters for you to be getting on with…
Love you lots, k
With love and gratitude to Maud ~ everything is hers, only this idea is mine
Weave a window open in the summer
When your soul is open
Spider's webs are in my hair
Butterflies are everywhere
Leave a window open in the summer
Till the spell is broken
Spider's webs are in my hair
Butterflies are everywhere
A very bad case from the start
It was a wet, bleak, cruel evening in July when Anne came back to Green Gables. One of the fierce summer storms which sometimes sweep over the gulf was ravaging the sea. As Anne came in the first raindrops dashed against the panes.
"Was that Paul who brought you home?" asked Marilla. "Why didn't you make him stay all night? It's going to be a wild evening."
"He'll reach Echo Lodge before the rain gets very heavy, I think. Anyway, he wanted to go back tonight. Well, I've had a splendid visit, but I'm glad to see you dear folks again. 'East, west, hame's best.' Davy, have you been growing again lately?"
"I've growed a whole inch since you left," said Davy proudly. "I'm as tall as Milty Boulter now. Ain't I glad. He'll have to stop crowing about being bigger. Say Anne, did you know that Gilbert Blythe is dying?"
Anne stood quite silent and motionless, looking at Davy. Her face had gone so white that Marilla thought she was going to faint.
"Davy, hold your tongue," said Mrs Rachel angrily. "Anne, don't look like that – don't look like that! We didn't mean to tell you so suddenly."
"Is – it – true?" Anne asked, in a voice that was not hers.
"Gilbert is very ill," said Mrs Lynde gravely. "He took down with typhoid fever just after you left for Echo Lodge. Did you never hear of it?"
"No," said that unknown voice.
"It was a very bad case from the start. The doctor said he'd been terribly run down. They've a trained nurse and everything's been done. Don't look like that, Anne. While there's life there's hope."
"Mr Harrison was here this evening and he said they had no hope for him," reiterated Davy.
Marilla, looking old and worn and tired, got up and marched Davy grimly out of the kitchen.
"Oh, don't look so, dear," said Mrs Rachel, putting her kind old arms around the pallid girl. "I haven't given up hope, indeed I haven't. He's got the Blythe constitution in his favour, that's what."
Anne gently put Mrs Lynde's arms away from her, walked blindly across the kitchen, through the hall, and out to the front porch. It was very dark. The rain was beating down over shivering fields. The Haunted Wood was full of the groans of mighty trees wrung in the tempest, and the air throbbed with the thunderous crash of billows on the distant shore. And Gilbert was dying!
"Anne Shirley," cried Mrs Lynde, "what has got into you!"
Anne looked back to stout figure sheltering under the porch, and realised she was standing in the deluge.
Drawn by the noise, Marilla entered the hall and hovered in the doorway.
"I've never seen the like," Mrs Lynde said to her. "Shall I try and fetch the girl – would she be fetched, do you think?"
As she said this an icy gale whipped through the hall and upset the bowl of flowers Dora had carefully arranged that afternoon.
"You see to that," said Marilla firmly, "I'll see to Anne."
She threw Martin's old oilskin over herself and went out into the storm. Flying leaves and bits of twig stung at her face, though these were scarcely discernible from the unrelenting rain. Striking her with such a force her boots were full wet by the time she reached her girl.
"Anne, this is no way to behave. Come inside or you'll catch your death!"
Anne was shaking her head. She was murmuring something too, but Marilla could not make it out. There was nothing for it, she was going to have to lower her hood and bring her ear in close, only to hear Anne say:
"I don't care… I don't care… I don't care… I don't care..."
In all her years, through all her scrapes; her tragedies, her injuries and her losses, Marilla had never once heard this bright, undaunted girl give in to such despair.
"That's the shock talking," she said, tugging Anne's arm. Her light summer dress was soaked through, and her face… but Marilla could not look at her face.
"I have to go," Anne said, as if only now realising this. "I have to go to him, Marilla, you see that, don't you?"
Marilla did not want to see. Nor let her go. Gilbert Blythe was not down with some common cold, but a fever that threatened his life. If Anne managed to see him, if she was able to convince Mrs Blythe, there was every chance the girl would put herself in danger. A house with typhoid was a house that every person avoided, or at least walked briskly by. Beside which, the Blythes had a nurse, what good could Anne possibly do?
Marilla Cuthbert was all ready to say these things and brook no opposition. Then her eyes met Anne's and she swiftly gave way.
Later, as the gale tore the roof off the woodshed and Marilla was soaking her feet in a basin of hot water, Rachel finally got the answer as to why she let Anne go off in a storm to a house that no sane creature would want to get within a hundred feet.
"She loves him," Marilla said simply. "Do you think I had a chance stopping that?"
Mrs Rachel had a suspicion she might have had better success. But where Marilla failed to talk sense into the girl, Emma Blythe would not. Anne would not get beyond the Blythe's wide veranda, if indeed she managed the half mile through the storm.
Anyone who witnessed Anne set off with Martin's oilskin wrapped about so slight a frame, would have had the same doubts. With no lantern to see by, in a storm that threatened to vault the girl halfway to Charlottetown, Anne's mission seemed not only improbable, but hopeless. Her hands were red with cold, and so numb she could barely feel the fence posts she caught hold of as she hauled herself down the lane, and into Newbridge Road.
"Just hold on," she chanted over and over, knowing she said this as much to herself as to Gilbert.
It was a full hour and a frantic tussle with a flying tree branch before Anne sighted the Blythe's homestead. On midsummer nights, the sun lit the sky until ten. Tonight, an eerie yellow stain seeped over everything Anne could make out from under her pulled tight hood. She had expected to see a light or two shining from their windows. Typhoid, she knew took round the clock care, yet there looked to be no sign on life. Perhaps they had moved to the cellar to keep Gilbert safe from the storm?
This is what Anne told herself when she yanked open the Blythe's barn door and threw herself into a pile of clean straw. Despite the oilskin's best efforts, she was soaked to the bone and it was impossible to make her fingers work and throw it off. She could not turn up like this; if she knocked on the Blythe's door chances are they wouldn't hear. Better to rest here a moment and try and catch her breath.
But try as she might her breath would not be caught, and the faster she chased it the more lightheaded she felt. She lay back in the straw and closed her eyes and didn't wake up until morning.
* the lyric is from Leave a Window Open by Plantman
* opening part of story from A Book of Revelation, Anne of the Island