I'm doing something a little, well let's not beat around the bush, completely weird here.

I had this idea and wrote a sad version then thought I'd make it happy. Except naturally the happy version lacked the emotional punch of the sad. So what does an aspiring author do? She publishes them both. So here is The Calla Lily - Light & Dark. There is some doubling up in the stories, but the emphasis is different.


The Calla Lily - Light

When Anne went away to Queens the Cuthbert siblings found the silence difficult to bear. The period between letters lengthened. Probably as they said to each other because she was busy with her studies. "Knowing Anne, she's probably befriended the entire campus," Marilla remarked to Matthew one night when the mailman had not been by yet again.

"Hm," he grunted around his pipe.

"Doesn't mean anything," she said.

"Hm," he let out a puff of smoke as he stared into the embers.

Even Matthew found it so quiet that quite out of character he planned an unnecessary trip to Carmody the next day. "Got an idea," he said when he returned.

Marilla raised her eyebrows at him, "that sounds dangerous."

Matthew bridled, "my last idea didn't go so badly, did it?" he said looking fondly at the portrait Anne had sent them nestling in its frame on the mantlepiece.

Marilla softened, "no it didn't at that. Well, what is it?" she asked testily when he said no more.

Matthew stared at her. "I went into Carmody today." Marilla nodded. "Paid a call on Jeannie."

"My Matthew, you are getting bold, talking to a woman."

He grinned, "she's selling up, says she's too old for it all now. It's exhausting running a business at her age she reckons and she's sick of living in town."

"Goodness, Anne will be upset, she loved that store."

"Anyway, I was thinking, it's pretty quiet around here and you 'n I ain't getting any younger. Still a fair bit of work to be done…" he paused.

"What are you suggesting, because so far it sounds like a business proposal."

"Not that, I'm um that is to say I'm thinking o' asking Jeannie to marry me." Marilla was not often shocked into silence, she looked at him open mouthed for some time. "What do you think a that then?" Marilla stared at him and then looked away. She was stunned. Where did that leave her? No one would want their spinster sister-in-law living with them surely. "I, I well that is to say I…"

"We wouldn't turn you out if that's what you're worried about. This is your home 's much as mine," he watched her face. "Marilla?" She laid her things down, stood up and walked out of the room without a word.

After a restless night she was still quiet at breakfast. Not that the first meal of the day was particularly chatty as a rule, but when Matthew tried to engage her in discussion, she put her hand up to stop him.

Marilla sought counsel from Rachel. "I've got some news for you," she announced over tea.

"Oh?" said Rachel. This was an unusual turn of events. "Is it Anne?"

"No, not Anne. Matthew this time."

"It is his heart?"

"No, well er yes I suppose it is in a manner of speaking. Matthew has asked Jeannie Patterson to marry him."

Rachel was dumbfounded. "Can you repeat that please."

"Matthew has asked Jeannie Patterson for her hand in marriage."

"That's what I thought you said. My goodness, Matthew finally asked a woman to marry him. This is your brother we're talking about, right? There's no other Matthews in your life?"

Marilla smiled ruefully, "just the one."

"Well goodness gracious me. You're never too old for surprises, that's what I say. Mr and Mrs Matthew Cuthbert. But where does that leave you Marilla?"

"He says he won't turn me out of the house. After all it's not as though Jeannie doesn't know me or our living situation. I don't suppose my life will change all that much."

"So long as she doesn't try to take over your kitchen, eh Marilla or steal your famous plum puff recipe."

"Indeed," Marilla smiled.

It took her a couple of days to come round but eventually she said, "not that you need my permission Matthew. I'm only your sister after all and you are a grown man."

"Still, I'll only go ahead with your blessing, Marilla. It affects you too."

"Very well, go ask her. See what she has to say."

"There's just one other thing," Matthew added. "Do you think I could give her Mother's ring?"

"Oh," Marilla paused once more. She had planned to give it to Anne one day. But on thinking about it she supposed Anne's betrothed, whoever that might be, would have plans of his own. "I suppose so, yes of course." She walked upstairs to locate it in her top drawer. Reverently she handed it over to her brother. He unwrapped the old tissue paper and spilled it out onto his palm. "It's been years since I've seen it."

"Well, it's nothing too ornate, but I suppose it might do," Marilla said wistfully.

A couple of hours later Matthew arrived in Carmody, he had been practicing his speech on the ride over. Taking a deep breath, he strode into the boutique hearing the familiar tinkle of the bell behind him. Vivienne greeted him at the door and told him that Jeannie was upstairs.

When he found her in the parlour she looked up startled at his approach. "Jeannie," he said catching his breath. "I want to ask you something."

"Oh?"

"It's just I've never been married, and I have always been fond of you from afar and it was so pleasant to reacquaint recently. I do believe Jeannie that I've fallen in love with you," Matthew blurted out.

"Goodness!" Jeannie replied.

Feeling wildly out of his element, Matthew clumsily dropped to one knee, grabbing hold of a nearby chair to regain his balance. "Jeannie," he said. "Would you do me the honour of becoming my wife?"

Jeannie looked down at him in shock, almost without knowing what she was doing she put her out hand and let him place his mother's modest gold band with the single amethyst upon her ring finger. Her eyes misting up Jeannie whispered, "I will." He got to his feet to take her in his arms and they embraced for a long time. Jeannie cradled Matthew's face and leant in to kiss his lips.

"Hope you don't mind the ring," he said. "A man needs a ring to propose, I was goin' ta buy one but then I recalled my mother's. It's not much," he said depreciatingly.

"This was your mother's?" Jeannie asked studying it intently.

"Yes ma'am," he said. "She wanted one of us to use it and we never have. I suppose Marilla meant to give it to Anne one of these days. Never expected it would be used before then."

"Are you sure then?"

"I am. This ring will be worn by the prettiest woman in a generation," said Matthew looking deeply into Jeannie's eyes.

"Me?" she laughed. "I'm far from that."

"Not to me," said Matthew fondly. "You've always been the most beautiful and you still are, s'far as I'm concerned."

"Well, it's wonderful, thank you. Thank Marilla for me too," She held her hand up and watched as the ring's facets caught the light.


The wedding was a modest affair. A few neighbours, along with Vivienne who made the trip from Carmody, witnessed them as they said their vows in the garden surrounded by crimson and gold leaves. Anne was the only bridesmaid and she stood by proudly, her delight at Matthew's happiness insurmountable.

Much later after everyone had gone home Matthew led Jeannie into their bedroom and closed the door. Jeannie swallowed nervously. "Well," said Matthew feeling conflicted by the situation he'd found himself in. Several men had clapped him on the shoulders at the mercantile that week and given him advice which he found frankly terrifying.

"Are you? Are you a little nervous?" Jeannie asked him.

Matthew nodded. "I want to, but I don't want to get it wrong. I don't want to hurt you."

"I don't really know what we have to do, but I do know we need to get undressed to do it," she responded.

Matthew lay in their marriage bed with Jeannie's head on his chest, virgins no longer. "Well, what do you think … of that, Mr Cuthbert?" she asked silkily.

He sighed a deep sigh of contentment, "don't know why I waited so long to marry you. If I'd a known what I was missin' out on I'd a done it years ago." Jeannie trailed her fingernail down his arm and watched the hair rise in response. "We may not have a long time, but let's make it a good time," she said with a smile as Matthew pulled the covers up.


"You left school so abruptly Matthew. I did worry," Jeannie said one day as they drank their afternoon tea in the parlour.

"I was needed at home, and after all I was no scholar," he replied. "I regret I never really got to say goodbye."

Jeannie pulled out the button Matthew had given her, "remember this?" she said. "I was sorry you sent Jerry to pick up Anne's special dress, but when he gave me this button, I knew it for a token of love. He must have wondered what it was all about," she smiled handing it back to Matthew.

"Funny," he said. "Marilla had a go at me for losing it. As if it were lost," he leaned over and pressed his lips upon it and kissed hers.

"When you think about it, that was the first time you told me you loved me."

"Not the last, I hope. I will love you forever."

Marilla found them napping on the sofa with an old button sitting on the coffee table. She frowned, recognising it rather quickly for hadn't she been sewing his buttons for nigh on fifty years. She nearly went to pick it up, but Matthew opened one eye and shook his head so she backed away somewhat confused.


It was odd for Marilla to have another woman around, though Jeannie did not interfere with the running of the house which Marilla was pleased about. Marilla admired her perseverance in setting up her own business; few women were brave enough. Jeannie kept Marilla entertained with tales of her customers. Many seemed nice enough, but a few mistook money for rights, displaying their arrogance. Jeannie mimicked their imperious tone which was at once hilarious and somehow not. "I'm sorry you had to endure such rudeness," Marilla told her. "I can't imagine being that impolite, to anyone."

"That's because you value people. Somehow when some people get too wealthy, they forget that we are human too." Marilla shook her head sadly.

Jeannie did not bring much with her when she moved to Green Gables, but she did bring her sewing machine. "For," as she explained to Matthew, "a woman's machine is a personal thing, I don't feel comfortable borrowing Marilla's." She enjoyed the work, "my fingers just have to be active," she explained as she made a new set of clothes for Matthew. "It's nothing fancy, just something for every day."

While she sewed Matthew worked in the barn. He had a plan to build her a present. Taking a stout length of rope, he threw it over a low hanging branch. Marilla watched him work and remarked dryly that it looked like he planned on hanging someone. He grinned and said, "not quite."

He had an old chair in the corner of the barn; a leg had broken years ago but he never liked to throw anything out. He drilled holes at various points to affix ropes. He showed it to Anne one weekend asking nervously, "should I give it a coat of paint?"

She regarded it critically for a moment before replying, "no I don't think so. For one thing it has a certain rustic charm as is and after all you want her to use it as soon as possible. Painting it will only cause delays."

When it was finished it looked like a swinging rocking chair. Proudly he led Jeannie down to the tree. She regarded it with joy. It looks like a throne, Matthew. She lay back in it blissfully as Matthew pushed. "Wonderful," she murmured. "I haven't enjoyed a swing since I was a girl. It's like flying."

"Do you have a favourite flower, Miss Jeannie?" Anne enquired one day. It was not the sort of question she would ever ask practical Marilla, but she felt sure Jeannie would have a more romantic view.

"Well, it's funny you called me a calla lily in your letters because I prefer the day lily really, if you don't mind me saying so." Jeannie bit off a thread. "They're so jolly, and I like their form."

"I hope you didn't think I was too presumptuous comparing you to the lily, Jeannie."

"Not at all dear, it was very complimentary of you. Though if I'd had my wits about me, I would have realised you were the one writing rather than Matthew, now I know him better I wouldn't make that mistake."

"Say," Jeannie said one night when she was about to commence sewing one of Matthew's torn cuffs by the candlelight; something Marilla was expressly forbidden to do these days. "How about I teach you to darn, Matthew?"

"Me?"

"Yes, why not? When I travelled to Europe, I was amazed to see how many sailors did their own sewing. No reason why a farmer like you can't manage it."

Marilla watched with some amusement as Jeannie instructed Matthew how to thread a needle, the dainty sliver of metal looking incongruous in his wide hands. It took a few goes and he never gained the aptitude the women had, but he made a passable attempt.

One warm day Matthew took Jeannie down to the beach for a picnic. Marilla said she'd rather stay at home and while it was mostly true, for she wanted to mop the floors, she mostly wanted to give them some privacy.

The weather was fine and sunny, the beach delightful. Matthew encouraged Jeannie to take her shoes and stockings off, "go on, even Marilla enjoyed it the time we brought Anne." He went on to tell Jeannie about how they almost lost Anne in the water. "How terrifying," Jeannie exclaimed. Matthew smiled at the memory, "it was momentarily. But really the water was only a couple of feet deep, bone crushingly cold though," he shivered in the warm sun at the memory.

After their picnic they strolled down the beach hand in hand watching the gulls swoop and soar above. Matthew rolled up the cuffs of his trousers and together they paddled in the breakers. Jeannie squealed and clutched his arm when the cold water first touched her toes. In later years Matthew remembered her touch.

"You've gone to so much trouble, both of you," Jeannie said one night. "To make me feel at home, but it's not necessary. I just want to be treated like one of the family. You don't know how wonderful you all are, how you've brought peace to my mind. I admit I was worried before about how I'd cope in retirement. But you Marilla with your cooking and tender care and Matthew my wonderful husband, you have bestowed so much love upon me, it's enough. It's more than enough. I need to do more to help around here. I shan't interfere in the kitchen, Marilla. I've never been much of a cook anyway, but I could do more chores. Maybe assist with the laundry for instance?"

Marilla nodded, "that would be lovely. I admit since Anne has left the laundry does wear me down."

"I'm sorry Jeannie," Matthew said one night as they lay in bed together. "I just can't help thinking of all that lost time. We coulda been together for years. I was just so shy, I shoulda said something years ago. What was stoppin' me? I told you I wasn't ready, that I didn't want a romantic engagement, I was such a fool, Jeannie. I loved you and I, I…" he burst into tears unable to articulate himself.

Later he had his thoughts more ordered. "Anne and I talked about the notion of love in the barn one afternoon," he told her. "She was worried that I'd lived a life without love, and I told her I had her. But now I realise there are different kinds of love, ya know. There's parental love and romantic love, I never knew the difference. You've taught me so much."

When spring returned Anne asked Marilla if they might send away for some seeds. The package arrived some weeks later "You told me you preferred these day lilies to calla lilies, Jeannie," Anne said. "I thought you might like to plant some in the garden.

"That's lovely Anne, you are sweet to think of me," Jeannie replied. "I feel a little bad saying I prefer day lilies, it's not that I don't like calla ones too. You did make me smile when you compared me to them. I'm nothing like a lily."

Matthew shook his head, "nope can't agree with you there. I reckon Anne made the perfect choice. With your beautiful dresses you're just like a flower, the most beautiful bloom there ever was."

"He's turned into a romantic fool," Marilla remarked to Anne when the married couple left the room hand in hand.

"I think it's lovely, Marilla. He's due some romance in his life after all this time, don't you agree?"

"Fiddlesticks!" replied Marilla grumpily, though secretly she was happy for him.