"No," Rachel pronounced, her arms crossed over her significant chest. "Marilla may not travel with you ever again. You kept her safe enough last time I know, but she is not the same child who departed. You brought her back altered. I won't have it."

Marilla was unsurprised but Mari ran out of the house in tears. Rachel was unrepentant. "You must understand, Marilla." Marilla sighed, honestly, she commiserated with both parties. "I know how you feel, and I know how she feels, does that make sense?"

Rachel gazed at her, her expression softening. "It's time she settled down, she's had enough galivanting around the world. Time she found a nice boy and got on with a normal life."

"I'm sorry, Rachel. I think that ship might have sailed," Marilla grimaced at her turn of phrase. "Sorry," she muttered.

"I forbid it," Rachel said later when Mari had reluctantly returned.

"I'm of age Mama, you can't actually prevent me!"

Rachel turned away muttering, "go if you must, but don't expect my blessing upon the whole misguided adventure. If I'd known what was coming, I would never have let you leave last time."

John had written to his shipping agents explaining the situation. He wanted a ship he could bring the family on and owners who agreed to the unusual situation. It took some months, but eventually one was located that would be calling into Montreal first and thence to Charlottetown.

After long discussions, heated and otherwise the two girls, Mari and Anne were due come along. Marilla was very pleased to have their help, the girls were getting to be a handful and the boys needed a close eye. Mari agreed to look after the babies and Anne the boys, though the arrangement was not set in stone and by any means.

The only fly in the ointment as it were, was that despite much pleading and many tears Rachel refused to relent. Mari was coming regardless but she would have preferred to have her mother's blessing. She said as much to Anne just before they set off, "I want to go, so much. I'm wasting away here in sleepy Avonlea. I long to see the sea again you know. I'm not naïve enough to think it'll all be rosy but Anne the good far outweighs the bad, don't you agree." They had gone for one last walk to drink in the sights, as Anne put it. Anne nodded, "I know."

"But" Mari sighed deeply, "I wish Ma would see it my way. She wants me to settle down, find a nice boy, court, marry and have ten children just like she did. I just don't think that's my future. I mean maybe once, before," she waved airily.

Anne smiled and hugged her friend's shoulder. Mothers might be annoying, but she having none wished there was someone to care for her so deeply. Sure, Mr Cuthbert had always been lovely, and Mrs Blythe had never been unkind; but she never really and truly felt like part of the family, never felt like they needed her like Mari had, never felt the constraints of love. There was a freedom to her situation that Mari might never experience, but on balance Anne found herself rather envious. Naturally Mari could not see it that way and in any case, this wasn't the time to bring it up.

The date for their departure fast approaching, Marilla had sat down with Matthew to discuss their itinerary. "We'll be sailing down the coast of the US and thence to the Caribbean, and South America before we round the Horn."

"Isn't that incredibly dangerous, Marilla?" Matthew commented, a shuddering Hugh by his side, he had experienced the Horn's gales and fervently hoped he never would again. Freezing and terrifying were his significant memories of that voyage. Marilla looked at them frankly noting Hugh's reaction. "Well, I won't pretend it's a walk in the park. But John's navigated it before. A ship can founder anywhere, Matthew. It's dangerous out there."

"That's what I worry about. Regular seas are dangerous, but from what I've heard that Horn is the worst of the lot. Don't like to think of you in more danger than necessary.

Despite the family's concerns Marilla and John packed the family up in two wagons and set off for Charlottetown where the ship awaited. Many heartfelt hugs and kisses later Matthew stood in the Green Gables yard, young Hugh at his side. "You're sure now?" he whispered; Hugh stayed silent but held his hand fast. He was in perfectly content to stay on land and learn farming for the rest of his days. Hugh could still hardly believe how his life had turned around and he had grown to love Matthew like a father.

As the horses trotted towards the port, John described their ship to them all. "It's a bit bigger than our old vessel," he said. "Crew's bigger too."

"It'll take some getting used to," Marilla said, happy to be by his side.

"Mm, I'm sure we're up to the challenge. There are a few of us after all. It'll be them getting accustomed to us, I'll wager," John laughed, slightly uneasy about it all himself, but unwilling to admit it, even to Marilla.

"Well, there she is," John said pointing at a ship at the far end of the quay. You'll be pleased to know she's got a female name this time, Marilla." He led his family up the gangplank, Mari, and Gilbert each carrying the little girls while some of the crew brought up their luggage.

It was larger than their previous ship, The Jonathan Swift, but the Ellen McMaster had fine lines and looked sturdy enough. The Mate and his fellow officers greeted John, Marilla, and the family warily as they boarded. Having a family aboard was an unusual occurrence and the Mate was not sure how he felt about it. Still orders were orders, and he had no real cause for concern. He'd worked with many masters over his career and generally speaking knew how to manage them. This one would be busy with his family so the Mate, Mr Swires was not overly concerned.

Just as the ropes were being unhitched, they heard a shout, as one they turned in its direction and Marilla's heart gave a leap. It was the Lyndes. "Halt for a moment," John called out to the crew. He manoeuvred the gangplank down to the wharf once more and they watched as Mari fairly flew down it and into her mother's arms. Their conversation was too faint for anyone else to hear but Marilla watched keenly, hoping she was not to lose her help. Eventually mother and daughter broke apart. Rachel glanced up at the ship and hesitatingly waved at Marilla. Mari looked back at her parents, hugged them and turned to walk back up the gangplank a smile of extreme joy on her face.

Dearest Rachel,

We've just set sail today and I feel compelled to write and tell you what's in my heart. You will not receive this note until I can send it when next we make landfall down the coast aways. But while my feelings are fresh in my heart, I wish to get them down.

I know our leave taking wasn't easy. In case Mari doesn't mention it, I do just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for bestowing your blessing upon our venture. She was putting a brave face upon it regardless and the lack thereof would not have deterred her, but oh I could see, feel how your bestowal affected her right down to her soles. There was a lightness about her when she returned to us that had not been there before. So, while I know it has been a sacrifice for you, dearest Rachel please never think that it was in vain or an empty gesture - it meant the world to our beautiful girl.

I hope you are not offended at my calling her thusly, but you must know that I regard myself as her second mother and will defend her as I would one of my own. It is a perilous world here on board and on land, aye even in Avonlea, but with the Good Lord's help and our own we will strive to keep her safe.

We made good passage down to New York. It is a fine city and there is much to see and do. The girls and I escorted the younger ones on an outing to see the sights. The buildings are very grand, and we had afternoon tea at an hotel on Broadway…