The music for this story (because you know there always is) is Philip Glass' MAD RUSH.
I like Sally Whitwell's interpretation :o)
CHANGE of HEART
On Sunday morning Anne dressed very carefully. Not that she was in danger of anyone noticing, she always dressed in her best for church. The theory was disproved the moment she went downstairs. Her green wool coat was fine to be sure, and the brown velvet hat was scrumptious. It was the look in Anne's eyes, their bright almost fervent expression, coupled with the glow on her cheek, that drew all the arch comments.
"Will Roy be at the service today?" Priss asked, with a sidelong glance at Stella.
Stella answered her with a none too subtle smirk.
"Of course not," Anne said, queenishly, "you know he never would. I thought I would go to his church today–see if I might catch him there–he's been so busy lately…" Her words began running together and she hastened through the gate to escape her friends' quizzical looks.
"But he attends St Bartholomew's," said Stella. She was not smirking now. "That's Anglican."
"High Anglican," Priss amended, "they do bows and incense there."
Phil silenced them both with a bold, stern stare. "Let's walk together, honey," she said, catching up to Anne. "Jo's church is only a stone's throw from St Barts."
Jo's church, otherwise known as St Columba's, was Low Anglican. Phil had ditched the stout Presbyterian sermons her chums went in for the moment she became engaged to Jonas Blake.
She met up with Priss and Stella later that morning, loitering about in the old Sailor's graveyard. Priss' lips had gone quite blue.
"No Anne?" said Stella, looking by Phil and the crumbling stone angel behind her.
"No," said Phil, meaningfully. She had seen her, however, with Roy, heading toward town and looking very cosy. She threw her arm around Priss and signalled for Stella to follow. "Come," she said, "you two look like you're in dire need of hot chocolate."
"Look!" said Priss, her numb toes forgot as she peered through the café window. She had whined at first when Phil suggested they come here, now she wouldn't have missed it for worlds. "How on earth did you know, Phil dear?"
"We can't go in now," Stella complained, "Anne will think we are following them."
"Let's try our luck further along," said Phil, with a grin that bordered on devious. She stopped outside a little jeweller's shop, the discreet old-fashioned kind favoured by the more discerning clientele.
"Come on, Phil. I'm freezing now," said Priss, "ooh, what a darling crystal box!"
Phil joined Priss at the window, her dark eyes darting over the display. "Oh, they've put all the rings away, I wondered if we might guess which one it was."
"Which one was what?" Stella's curiosity was peaked.
"The ring Roy is buying Anne."
The triumphant sound in Phil's voice was met with corresponding squeals.
"Did he ask her–what did she say–have they set a date?" Priss sighed a big ballooning breath.
"Why didn't she tell us?" said Stella. After all, Anne was their friend too.
"She didn't tell me, not as such, he probably hasn't popped the question yet. Knowing Royal Gardner, he'll want to ask permission for Anne's hand first."
"So, he is going with her for Christmas?"
"Bound to be," said Phil. "With a little satin box from Dawsons tucked into his top pocket. That was how I knew, you see. No sooner had you two gone up the hill than Anne started in with all these questions about the Dawsons. Had I heard of them, did I know any, that sort of thing. The poor girl didn't realise they are the biggest diamond merchants in the Maritimes!"
"You look like you don't want to be here," said Roy, setting down his cup of tea.
"I don't really," Anne answered truthfully, "it doesn't seem right to be paying for tea on a Sunday."
"Is that why you keep looking about, are you worried one of your Island kind might find you out? High church and trade on a Sunday, you'll be drinking wine next."
Anne coloured. Looking about? "I came to church to see you, dearest. It was your idea to come in here."
"Because Dorothy spends half her allowance in this place. I wanted to see what the fuss was about."
The bell above the café door tinkled, Anne kept her eyes resolutely on Roy. "And have you worked it out?" she said.
"Well it's not for the tea." Roy's brow crinkled, "so, it must be the company. Come," he smiled, signalling for the bill, "it's time we were going."
Anne paused by the jewellers shop; that had been the whole object of their post-church stroll. Well, not quite the whole. When she woke up this morning she had a sudden strong impulse to see Roy too. During one of the long hymns she didn't know the words to, Anne pictured it out in her head. After service, they would go for a stroll and pass by this shop. The Dawson name was bound to come up, then she could ask Roy about it. Not that it mattered one way or the other, she just wanted to put a face to the name that was all.
But Roy had not noticed the shop sign, he was looking at his watch. "Sorry Anne, I'm in a bit of a hurry. Mamma's invited the Nielsons for dinner."
The reverend for supper, the Nielsons for dinner, and still no invite for her. Anne pressed her nose–hard–against the jeweller's shop window.
Royal Gardner was disconcerted, this was not like Anne, at all. Turning up at his church, insisting on a stroll, now she was practically hinting at rings. Anyone would think she was unsure of his feelings. But of course–that was it! What a fool he was thinking Dorothy could make up for his absence.
"Forgive me dearest, what pretty thing has caught my robin's eye?"
He stood by Anne and admired the goods behind the glass. Anne had not counted on that. There were only three items on display; a crystal box, a Staffordshire cat, and that pink enamel heart.
"I was just being silly–I know, why don't we wait over there for a tram?"
"Hmm," Roy said. Evidently Anne was being silly. There was nothing of any value here, the good stuff would be locked up in the vault–though that Staffordshire cat was sweet. "Nice little thing," he said, "like one of your household gods had a kitten."
Anne blinked at the word and her conscience gave her a nasty nip. "The tram," she urged, gently tugging Roy's arm.
"Absolutely not," he said. "I am walking you home."
"I'm not going home." Even as Anne said this she had no idea where else she might go. Her eyes darted over the closed shop fronts and rested upon the library. "There's a book being held for me," at least that part was true, "some holiday reading for Christmas–"
"But the library is closed," Royal called as he watched his girl dash over the street.
Anne turned to him from the other side. "Not for us seniors!" she called back.
She had forgotten her student library card, but the junior librarian let her in.
"Though I can't let you take your book, Miss Shirley. Mr Mackintosh wouldn't allow it."
So that was the Christmas read out. Anne swiftly made another plan.
"It was a reference book I was after, on the third floor." Anne knew that was quiet, even on a weekday, no one would find her up there.
She hadn't had a moment alone for so long, that was the problem, and the reason she had been so nettled about trying to place the Dawsons. When you never had time to think on big things, little things bothered you instead. On the Island, she only had to step out of doors to find solitude, now there was always someone who wanted to step out with her. Home was the answer, and all she looked forward to. Only six more days, five if you didn't count this one, then she could be by herself.
Anne wandered through rows of cloth-covered tomes but they all smelled stale and unread. A trolley went by, and the soft pat of feet. Startled, Anne withdrew the book closest to her and buried her nose in it.
"Doing some light reading?"
It was Gilbert. Naturally, he would be in here.
He took the book from her and read the spine, before weighing it in his hands. "Glaciology?"
"Why yes," said Anne with a frost to match that book, "I thought I might read up on it. Could come in handy on the journey home."
"Does Miss Cuthbert ever worry for you, taking the iceboat across the Strait? Mother does," he grimaced, "she's always sending me clippings of the latest drowning or some poor soul who froze on the ice."
"Mrs Lynde has been known to do that too," Anne said, a little less frosty now, "But Marilla doesn't hold with such scandalous accounts."
"Anne, what are you really doing here, and don't tell me it's to study up on Nouvelle études et experiences sur les glaciers actuels?"
Anne didn't know what amazed her more, his perfect French, the way he had memorised the title at a glance, or the question he had asked her.
"I wanted to be by myself for a while." How good it felt to admit it.
"I know just the spot," he said, and walked down one of those long rows of books. When she didn't follow, he turned back and beckoned her with one of his ink-stained fingers. "Don't worry, you won't get lost. I practically live here."
It certainly looked like it. At the end of the row, through a door and up another flight of stairs was something resembling a sitting room. A large, old armchair had been pushed up close to a small high window, with a desk behind it bearing a lamp and several dirty coffee cups. It was a far cry from the ivory tower Anne imagined Gilbert yearned for; a life of books and papers and discussions on serious matters with eminent scholars–though Anne rather liked it herself.
He picked a cup up sheepishly. "I get my coffee from the café across the street, if I buy three at a time they give me five cents off."
Anne was about to ask how he managed three full cups up four flights of stairs. But she already knew the answer. When they were young, Gilbert was always juggling apples or balancing pencils on his nose. He was never able to resist running over a log that had fallen across a stream. And she was never able to resist saying, "Gilbert Blythe, be sensible!"
"He's got too much spirit," his mother told her years ago, "the doctor says I must be sure he lets it all out."
"Or else," Gilbert had added, whispering in Anne's ear, "I might burst."
"Not quite up to Miss Cuthbert's standard," he said to Anne now, "but I hope it will do."
Anne had to climb over the arm of the chair to get to it. No sooner had she done so when he unfolded a rug that had been draped over the desk chair, and tossed it at her.
"I don't know how long you intend to stay, but it does get cold up here."
He departed soon after, he was working on a report with some other students and left Anne sitting alone. The window was too high to see out of, but it all made sense when she lay her head upon the chair's wide arm. Here was a perfect piece of sky, grey and growing dark. Little bits of snow, the sort that melts before it hit the ground, floating against it like thistle down.
She woke to the smell of coffee, then Gilbert tearing the blanket from her.
"Did you bring some for me?" she said groggily.
"No, I drank that a while ago."
"What time is it?" The sky was almost dark now.
"Ten to five–"
"You let me sleep till five?"
"Like I could make you do anything."
"You know what I mean."
"Fine, I made a judgment call. You looked like you needed it."
"Well I–I'm feeling much better now thank you, if you would be so kind as to show me the way out."
"We'll have to take the back way."
"What do you mean the back way?"
"The library officially closes at four."
The back way involved five flights of service stairs that lead down to the basement. There was no light and Anne was forced to grip onto Gilbert's coat tail on the way down. She refused at first, but her arm would keep knocking his hat, and once the nape of his neck. After that, she took her medicine like a good girl and grabbed the end of a worn bit of tweed. By the third flight she had become intimately acquainted with a little nub of stitches above the coat's single vent. He must have split it at one point, she could easily imagine how, and tried to mend it himself.
Once in the basement–she could not see it was a basement, but she heard the groans of the furnace; smell oil and rubber and grease–Gilbert took her hand. Anne did not fight it. By now she was of a mind where she would do anything to get out.
"There's a load of boxes to the left, step behind me–"
"Full boxes," he added.
"Gilbert, how much further?" She did not try to hide her annoyance.
"Not far," he said. "As a matter of fact, we're here."
Anne did not need telling, she had bumped into his shoulder. The smell of cedar was overwhelming and the muscles beneath his coat were hard. For all his apparent nonchalance, he was as tense as she was.
"What are you doing now?" she said. She had let go his hand and was crossing her arms. "Please tell me you have a key." It wouldn't surprise her in the least if he had been given one. The librarians in this place were as clearly taken with him as everyone else. Armchairs, coffee cups… She might have gone for the Cooper herself, had she known the staff were so obliging.
There was no key, just a great brass bolt that slid with a satisfying click. Anne blinked in the light. The lamps along the street had been lit. Gilbert dashed up some stone steps and stood under one. His eyes hidden under the brim of his hat.
"Shall I walk you home?" He asked in a way that revealed he knew she would say no.
The last tram of the evening rattled past and halted outside the library main entrance. Anne smiled, happy that at last something had gone her way.
"I believe my carriage has arrived."
She sidled past him and lined up behind the Sunday stragglers, the café staff, and an assortment of tired librarians. There was no place for her to sit, and she wondered miserably if the fortuitous tram hadn't been a cruel joke. No one would give up their seat for her, not even the waiter who brought her hot chocolate without asking. She could stand, there were still a few straps dangling from the bar overhead. But Anne had promised Roy–and Jimsie come to that–she would never do anything so hazardous. Jostling against strangers and the tram floor always wet; there was nothing to do but get off.
Anne manoeuvred down to the back entrance just as Gilbert leapt on. His knuckles were white against the black iron rail.
Anne did so. The rail was icy against her bare skin. Her gloves were somewhere in the folds of the armchair.
"I can't keep a hold, I'm going to get off."
The tram started moving. Not too fast, she might risk a leap, but the piles of brown slush on the side of the road discouraged her. As she prevaricated, the tram sped up. Anne clutched at the rail with both hands. It was so cold it almost burned.
"Gilbert, what are you doing, don't let go, you're halfway out the door!"
Gilbert was digging into his coat pocket and retrieved some thick red mittens. He didn't even ask her, he pried one of her hands off the rail and slipped it on, then did the same with the other. They were so big she could have fitted both hands in one.
Anne studied the gloves, oh she studied them as though she had to take an exam on knitting. There were white dots on the front, with two stars made of eight diamonds in the centre.
After the tram had made three stops, Anne realised she might look less mad if she turned her eyes someplace else. Only two stops to go, then a short walk through the park; she would be home in time for supper. Gilbert would be going on to his boarding house, who knew what he was made to eat there.
"Gilbert?" Anne said, thinking of rainchecks.
"Mmm." He appeared to be looking at her scarf. His hands were shoved into his pockets.
"For goodness sake, aren't you afraid you might fall?"
"I've done it once already," he shrugged. "I know how to stop myself now."
The tram swerved into Spofford Avenue. Gilbert planted a foot closer to her, his shin deep in Anne's wool skirts. He was obviously determined not to share the rail. What he was trying to prove was anyone's guess.
When the tram stopped at the park he jumped off with her. Anne was all ready to insist that she did not need an escort, when the tram started moving and he leapt back on.
"Anne!" he called as he hurtled by her. "Merry Christmas!"
Anne knew that was his way of saying she would not see him again.
There was no getting around it, Anne was having a Jonah day. It wasn't even twelve yet and already she had received an B+ on her Classics paper, and a note from Roy via that chum from English Lit. saying he could not make the concert tonight. On top of that, Mr Mackintosh lent her Christmas read to someone else, and her umbrella broke again. She was holding what was left of it over her head when she passed the jeweller's and saw the enamel heart was not there.
Cold rain found the space between her scarf and her neck and dripped down her back. Not there? It wasn't possible, but then the whole display had been changed. Here was hope, and she pushed through the door and looked on every shelf. There were intricate clocks all ticking at her, a curated selection of rings, crystal boxes in diminishing sizes–and no heart. Anne felt its loss as though someone had taken the one from her chest. She felt sickened, dizzy; she had skipped breakfast that morning and hardly slept all week. But the woman behind the counter never saw her stricken face. She was too busy tying purple ribbon.
Anne yanked on the door and dashed down the street. The shower had turned into a downpour and her umbrella was still in the shop. A tram stopped on the other side of the road. Anne didn't even try to catch it. She tried her trick of turning a cry into a laugh, and when that didn't work tried Shakespeare instead.
"A foolish thing was but a toy
For the rain, it raineth every day
A foolish, foolish, foolish thing," Anne went on. And she was not thinking of her umbrella.
When she got back to Patty's Place, Jimsie took one look at her and began to prepare a bath. Anne sat in the tin tub till the water went cold, her knees poking out like icebergs.
The fire in her little blue room was blazing; Jimsie's work again. Anne dressed quickly, it was too early yet to get into bed. It would only cause questions and she was beginning to run out of ways to deflect them. She was tired, so tired and looked at her downy quilt the way Dorothy Gardner looked at cake. As she spied what had been carefully laid on her pillow, Anne knew there would be no avoiding questions then.
A small square box wrapped in thick creamy paper and decorated with purple ribbon. The tag with it written in a woman's hand: from Mr R.W. Gardner.
The heart she missed inside her chest made its presence felt, drumming and lurching all over the place. Roy wouldn't send her a ring by post, would he? She knew he was busy, but surely if he meant to propose he could have found the time to come himself?
The box was left untouched and she went downstairs, bracing for the knowing looks the girls were bound to give her. She found two of them sitting around the kitchen table, polishing off crumpets while their coats dried by the fire.
"Any interesting mail?" said Stella.
Phil kicked her under the table.
"A Christmas present," Anne murmured, ducking into the larder.
"Bring the butter while you're in there," Stella called after her. There could be only one reason why Anne would hide away after such a momentous delivery and she was determined to ferret it out. "The butter?" she said, when Anne appeared empty handed.
"I'm afraid we're all out," Anne said. "I–I might pop along to the grocer's, get a few supplies for Jimsie." The grocer's shop was very near Gilbert's boarding house. She could pop his mittens through the slot in his door, unless he happened to be home. Not that he would be, it was the last day of term. He would be out celebrating.
Stella promptly informed Anne that her great-aunt had already organised a delivery. Mostly fish-heads for the cats. It was Jimsie's job to look after them whenever the girls went away.
Anne looked strangely crestfallen for someone who had just avoided another walk through the rain.
"Then I might as well finish packing," she said, and moved to go back upstairs.
"What can you be packing?" Stella frowned. "You're only allowed to take one small bag for an ice boat crossing."
"My Christmas present from Roy. I want to put it under the tree at home."
"You wouldn't!" Phil leapt up from the table. She had meant to remain the soul of discretion and show Miss Maynard how it was done, but she had heard too many tales about these perilous journeys across the ice. It was rare to make it over the Strait without something getting wet or lost. "That little box is from Dawsons!"
There is was, out in the open. Anne was somewhat relieved.
"You mustn't think Roy has proposed or any such nonsense like that."
"But the call from Mrs Gardner–"
"The expensive little box–"
"Fine," Anne said, determined to shut them up, "I'll open it now, shall I?"
Anne marched upstairs to retrieve the box and marched back down again. It wasn't a ring–the very idea. As if Roy would do something like that!
The purple bow was pulled apart with the same care Anne would take unwrapping a cut of meat. Under the lid was a bundle of tissue. Phil slumped with disappointment. Not that she wouldn't have been very put out if Jo had presented his ring like that. But then this was Royal Gardner they were talking about.
"What is it?"
Stella leaned in closer. Anne nudged her away and peeled back the tissue. Her smug expression fading as she revealed a delicate crystal box finely etched with stars, glimmering like diamond sunbursts as they caught the light.
"I know that box!" said Stella.
"Open it!" ordered Phil.
Anne tried to keep her fingers from shaking at she lifted up the lid. There was no ring, just a card the size of a postage stamp embossed with pink-gold filigree.
"Come back to me," Stella read over Anne's shoulder, and fell into exaggerated swoons.
Phil looked even more disappointed. "So, he's not going with you?"
Anne plopped down in a chair and pinched one of Phil's crumpets. "Whatever made you think that–pass the jam please?"
"Dorothy Gardner for one," said Phil, ignoring Anne's request, "and you know Roy tells her everything."
"He didn't tell me."
"Did you even ask him?"
"It never occurred to me–all right it did–but by then it was halfway through December. I couldn't ask at such short notice, I don't even know where we would put him. And I don't know what the fuss is about, there are plenty more holidays, I don't see why it has to be this particular Christmas, who knows–" the crumpet dropped, and Anne's face dropped too, "it might be my last…"
"Stella get the door," Phil commanded, "I'll find a handkerchief." She put her arm around Anne and kissed her damp, red hair. "Forgive me, honey, I should never have pressed you like that. I just don't understand why you have to make everything so complicated when it looks straight forward to everyone else."
She thrust a napkin into Anne's pale face, and was surprised to find her eyes were dry.
"Oh Phil, I don't know what's wrong with me…"
"What's wrong with Anne?" Priss said. She had been kicking at the front door with her boot. Her hands were holding a crate. "Grocery delivery, Stella has the other. Would you believe they left it by the gate? Those delivery boys are getting lazier by the day. Look Anne, this might cheer you up. It's a parcel. From Gilbert."
Anne pressed her face to the napkin, wishing it was a glass of cold water. She was so hot, not just her face but all over.
"I bumped into him at the final rehearsal, Christine Stuart is accompanying the choir. Oh, but it was heavenly!"
"The music or the bass-baritone?" Stella said, dumping the heavy crate on the table and nearly crushing the crystal box. "Ugh, the cordial leaked. I hope Aunty likes pink bread."
"As pink as poor Anne's face," Priss crooned. "What's the matter with my darling?"
"I'm just tired," Anne said, trying to smile, "you know how frantic this last week has been."
"Yes, I do and I think you're a fool, knowing the journey you're in for. It's a six-hour trek across the Strait, and that's if it all goes well. You'll never get me on an iceboat. That's why I always have Christmas with my Aunt. You could come too, Anne, it's not too late. We could squeeze you in."
"You are a dear," Anne said, leaving the table, "but I couldn't possibly. To turn up at such short notice with nowhere to put me. It's too much trouble."
"It's no trouble," said Priss, "not when you're with the ones you love–oh dearest don't go, what about your parcel from Gil?"
Priss dried her hands on her skirts and followed Anne into the landing. "He was going to drop it off himself, but I said I would save him the bother. I bet that will cheer you," she said, pressing the parcel into Anne's hands. "Gilbert Blythe could always make you laugh."
Anne dropped the parcel on her desk and flopped onto her bed. She got up a second later. There was a story she was working on and she was sure she left it just there. Anne lifted the parcel, not to open it, that could wait, she simply wanted to find her manuscript. Though now she was holding it, she couldn't help notice the parcel was exact size and shape of the velvet box in the jeweller's window.
The pink heart!
She could not believe Gilbert remembered! Nor that he had bought it for her! Her fingers ripped at the brown paper, she could not be doing with knots. Inside was a plain white box, and not new either, but she hardly cared about that. She lifted the lid, or tried to, it was wedged on tight. In the end she ripped that too, and tossed it to the floor and found… her gloves. Her kidskin gloves, and a bit of card that said:
I thought you might need
The last words were illegible due to a coffee spill. The need blurred next–but that was because of her tears.
"Not what you wanted, was it?"
Anne lifted her head and saw Phil standing in her doorway.
"Please go away." Anne left the desk and threw herself back on her bed. "No Phil, come back," she wailed, reaching out for her.
"I never left, you goose," Phil said. "Bunch over."
Anne lay her head upon Phil's lap and said nothing, while Phil played with her hair. Phil was satisfied with the arrangement. She was quite prepared to do the talking for them both.
"The more I think about it, the more cross I get. Fancy him getting up your hopes like that?"
"He wasn't to know," said Anne in a small voice. "It was thoughtful of him really."
"My goodness but that boy is lucky to have someone who understands him like you do. Messing up his mother's visit and dropping you right in it. Now this! The thoughtless oaf! Everyone knows you're on the verge of an engagement. What sort of man sends a ring-sized box to a girl with no ring inside it?"
"You're talking about Roy." Anne left Phil's lap and sat up on the bed.
"Who else would I be talking about? Who else has just given you a… Oh Anne." Phil's lips fell open and she lurched away in surprise. "You don't mean Gilbert Blythe, do you? Not Gilbert. Not now."
"Why not now?"
"You're joking aren't you, after what you did? Anne, you broke his heart. Shattered it to a million tiny pieces."
"Don't rub it in."
"I will rub it in, I'll push your face in hard till the sharp bits scratch your freckles off. Maybe that will bring you to your senses."
"Maybe I don't want to be sensible."
"What on earth did Gilbert give you, what was in that parcel of his?"
"Your gloves–how did he get your gloves?"
"I've got his too, only mittens."
"Is this some sort of Island thing that I should know about?"
"Don't make fun of me."
"Well I don't know what else to make of you. I think you better start from the beginning."
Anne did so as quickly and as simply as she could. It wasn't much, not when it was pared down to bare facts. By the end, she was almost embarrassed by the smallness of it.
"That's it?" Phil was just as unimpressed. "You bumped into him at the café, again at the library, then shared a tram home. It wasn't even a present he gave you, it was your property. If Gilbert had wanted to see you again, then believe me those gloves would have been the perfect pretext."
"You don't think he wants to see me?" Anne already knew the answer to that, knew it the moment he stepped back on the tram. But still, she had to ask.
"I don't think you want to see him either," Phil said, firmly. "I think if Gilbert Blythe turned up now you'd bolt down the street, rain or no rain. What you've got, honey, is a good dose of the jitters."
Anne did not care so much for Phil's opinion anymore. She almost pushed her off the bed. "I do not." Her grey eyes narrowed into slits. "Jitters are for vague and flighty types who don't know what they want."
"That's what everyone thinks until it happens to them. I've seen it before. The excitement of seeing him turns into a standing arrangement. Then the talk starts up. Will they, won't they–he's meeting your family, you're meeting his. Love becomes an obligation and you start thinking back to the days when it wasn't always such hard work."
"I've never been afraid of hard work," Anne said stoutly, "that's not it at all. It was when you were all hinting at me to invite Roy to the Island that I began to have doubts. I just know he'll hate it there."
And she did. She also knew Phil would do her best to convince her otherwise. Ask her to give Roy a chance, sell him on the beauty of the place. But the Island wasn't just beautiful, it was difficult and clannish and home.
Phil, however, had no such intentions.
"What does it matter what Roy thinks of Avonlea, it's not as if you'll be settling there. Just wait to you see Cranborne, honey, there's an actual marble hall. And tapestries and chandeliers, oh and a walled garden. You'd be Queen of the castle–"
"But when we visit," Anne persisted, her stomach clenching at the thought of a garden enclosed within walls, "it would have to be for a considerable time. My soul would wither if a missed an Island summer, and I know Roy could never love it the way I do."
"So what?" Phil said. "Jo hates Mount Holly. You think that makes one jot of difference to how he feels about me? Jo accepts me, warts and all. I thought you felt the same about Roy. His funny little ways…"
"You didn't find them so funny a moment ago," Anne scoffed. "You said he was a thoughtless oaf."
Phil laughed, a deep in the belly sort of laugh and dropped back on Anne's pillow. "I take back the oaf, he's far too rich and handsome for that. And he isn't thoughtless, just–"
"Busy. Maybe Roy is having doubts too?"
"Or maybe he knows you're having them."
Anne thought back to that day at the South quad and the answer she had nearly given him. "My poor boy. What have I done?"
"You haven't done anything–yet. In fact, you've done the bestest, cleverest thing you've ever done, and that's listen to me."
Anne fell next to her friend and kissed her cheek. "Darling Phil, how did you get to be so wise?"
"It's not wisdom, honey, it's logic. I am a math-whizz, you know."
I have no idea if Roy is Anglican (that's Episcopalian to my American friends) and I am fairly confident Jo is not. That was poetic license on my part to add a bit of flavour.
Thanks for all your encouraging comments, your faves and your follows. I was hoping a good old fashioned romance might tickle your fancy, and it looks like I might be right. Would you prefer me to post once, twice or thrice a week? I'll do whatever is most popular.