The Bride of Adventure
17 June 1847
My Dearest Mar,
Won't you reconsider?
Please my love, please say you will … I beseech you ...
I entreat you … you know my heart,
Love you always, John
Marilla sat in her little gabled room looking absently out the window with the latest of John's imploring missives in her hand. His words had become increasingly strident as the weeks went by. Should she go with him? Could she? If she left she'd never be able to return. She'd be a pariah, cast out forever. Marilla did love Avonlea but that love was tied up with John Blythe. Could she cope without him there? It was John or her family. She did not love her father, he was too unyielding and brutal a man for that and her mother was distant and had been ever since Michael had passed. It was Matthew she worried about, could he survive without her? It tore at her heart to make this decision.
John's family were well situated on a good steading, but he never wanted to farm. Found the whole thing terribly dull; the same chores year after year. He chaffed at the bit to get away. He would pour over old books dreaming of exotic places. Geography lessons were his favourite; when he enthusiastically shouted out the answers in classroom quizzes his fellow students would tease him. Here he was stuck in some tiny town dreaming of far flung cities, who did he think he was?
Only Marilla did not mock him. They would walk slowly home from school together, taking the long way so he could share his latest dreams. "And then I'd like to go to Timbuktoo. Isn't that the most incredible name? The Moors are as black as soot and they trade in all manner of spices." Or "Patagonia, have you heard of that Mar? They call it the land of fire." His eyes would light up with the possibilities. The fate of the Franklin expedition's search for the North West Passage fascinated him. "Just think Mar, maybe they're still up there," he'd say pointing towards the mythical shipping passage that hopefully passed over the top of Canada linking the North Sea with the Pacific. If it were navigable would shave months off the long voyage to bring spices to Europe from the Orient. The expedition had set sail a decade ago and disappeared off the face of the earth leading to much speculation around the world.
Marilla for her part would listen patiently, trying not to get too caught up. She had her place in the world. After her brother's death at the cannery the year before, her mother had fallen into a deep melancholia and Marilla had a great deal on her plate. As well as trying to complete her lessons she had to run the household now. John dreams were impossible and it was irresponsible to think any different.
"Hurry hurry, come on." She ran lightly over the potato field her hand in his the weak moonlight providing just enough light to see by. Tripping slightly over the uneven ground but being held up by his strong arms. "Shh, quickly quickly." With a brief glance back towards home she redoubled her efforts, her lungs bursting.
Finally they reached the buggy and he helped her up into the seat. She sat catching her breath for a moment then looked across at him with wild eyes. "Oh they're going to be so cross."
"C'mon, don't worry about them. It's now or never Mar you can stay here or you can come with me, which is it to be?"
Marilla took a deep breath and looked deep into John's dark eyes seemingly looking into both her futures; either she could stay safe at home with her brother and parents living a half life without John or she could chose to go with him. Could she be brave enough? Their future was uncertain but she could not imagine happiness without him by her side.
John looked at her with baited breath, was he going to drive onwards to Carmody and beyond or turn the horses around and take her home? She had to be committed because once they left there was no going back.
He waited scarcely daring to draw breath until she smiled up at him shyly then said, "what are we waiting for?"
John let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding, "you sure?"
"Don't say that, I might yet change my mind."
"You have to be sure, are you? Don't look back," John said as he watched her half turn her head towards home. "Be the bride of adventure, I know you can do it."
"Right!" she said squaring her shoulders resolutely. "Let's go."