All that want, all that waiting, for all those years has finally come to an end. This story goes behind the scenes of Anne's House of Dreams, to their wedding night and beyond...
Quotes from the book will be the starting point of each chapter. I have also mentioned my previous stories here as well, so please give them a read too. As always I'd love to know your thoughts, everyone has their own ideas about Anne and Gilbert's first night together, I would love to know yours.
With love and gratitude to L.M. Montgomery, everything is hers, only this idea is mine.
Miss Anne Shirley is Surprised
"Anne was always romantic, you know," said Marilla apologetically.
"Well married life will most likely cure her of that," Mrs Rachel responded comfortingly.
from chapter three, The Land of Dreams Among; Anne's House of Dream
'So now we come to it.'
Rachel Lynde put down her sewing, piercing the needle into the pin-cushion so decidedly it gave a pop. She lay the last napkin precisely atop the ones completed underneath. Each one a square of bleached Irish linen embroidered in palest blue.
'Now, Anne –' she began, puffing out her magnificent bosom.
Sitting between them was Marilla, who reached for the pile of cloth and pulled it toward her, examining Rachel's work as if the Queen herself would be dabbing her royal countenance upon one.
'You know, Rachel,' she cut in, 'I think perhaps we should place Anne and Gilbert's initials on these.'
Rachel's eyes narrowed at her friend.
'I see very well what you're trying to do Marilla Cuthbert. But go right ahead and ruin your eyesight. You'll be ruining those napkins into the bargain!'
Anne smiled indulgently at the two. In this she took Rachel's part, but it would need saying rather softly, for it seemed there was nothing Marilla would not do for the first Green Gables wedding.
'The scalloped edges are already so sweet, and –' Anne said, her brows rising, 'as Jane remarked yesterday, I must be quite resigned to the simple things in life now.' She placed her pale, slender hand upon the brown, worn one. 'You mustn't fuss on them anymore Marilla, it's really not necessary –'
'A lot of things aren't necessary.' Marilla did not address Anne as she spoke this.
'And what is necessary isn't always easy. Which brings me again to what I wanted to speak to you about, Anne dear.'
'What is it, Mrs Lynde?'
Anne wondered what was left of her simple wedding to be discussed. The venue was settled, as were the number of invitations, her trousseau, her gifts, her flowers, her cake. Everything had been picked up, peered at, considered and rearranged. When Gilbert had joked that the two of them elope, Anne had laughed off the romantic gesture. Now it seemed an enticing alternative. She took another sip of the iced tea they were also considering as a beverage for the wedding breakfast – it needed more mint, she would have to remember that. Fortunately, Mrs Rachel waited for Anne to swallow before she answered her, or a fine mist of tea would have been sprayed all over the sewing.
'Sex!' the widow announced into the room.
Marilla scraped her chair back rudely and grasped at the napkins.
'The light's no good for such fine work I'll have to go to the sewing room.'
'You'll do no such thing, Marilla Cuthbert. We agreed that someone must say something.' Marilla winced, unable to meet Anne's eyes. 'Take that blessed chair to the west window if you will, there's still plenty of sun in that spot. But if you can't manage to align your stitches don't expect me to unpick 'em all!'
By this stage the blush on Anne's face was complete. She stared at her tall glass of tea and slid her hand up and down it distractedly, before stopping as Rachel eyed her again.
'Yes sex, Anne. I can tell by your face you're familiar with the term.'
Anne shot her a startled look. The countless touches, kisses, embraces she and Gilbert had delighted in, played over in her mind. To say nothing of the night Marilla had been taken ill and Anne and Rachel had been obliged to stay the night at the Blythes – and she in Gilbert's own bed! Did Rachel have some inkling? Anne wasn't sure who she wanted to escape more, herself or Marilla.
'Mrs Lynde,' she managed to say at last, 'this really isn't necess –'
'Oh, but it certainly is, my girl. We would not be doing our duty by you to see you walk down that aisle in two weeks time, still having the same foolish notions of romance you surely do now. Of course, Marilla here should be having this conversation with you, but seeing as –' Rachel paused in order to decide how best to proceed, 'since I was long married and birthed ten live children, it made sense that such information best come from me.'
Anne looked over at Marilla, who was attempting to thread her needle with the utmost concentration. While Rachel having got her difficult introduction out of the way settled comfortably into the kitchen chair, sniffing complacently before topping up her iced tea.
'Could do with some more mint,' she said to herself.
Anne was quick to respond.
'What a good idea! I knew it was missing something. I'll just go and –'
Rachel put her glass down with a determined tap.
'You and Marilla. Why, you're both as bad as each other. What on earth did you say to the girl when her monthly visitor arrived?'
'Her monthly...?' The blue thread fell from Marilla's lap and spooled across the floor. 'Rachel, if you are going to speak about such topics I hope it won't be couched in such ridiculous terms!'
'Far be it from me to interfere, Marilla.' It was as well Rachel's back was turned from the woman sitting at the west window, for she had a look on her face that was not to be seen. 'But I pride myself on speaking my mind. And I will speak it now though it may be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Why to talk of it is almost like the act itself.'
'I'm getting a bigger needle,' Marilla declared.
'I'm getting the mint,' Rachel countered.
Anne remained rooted to her chair, her hand stuck to the glass. Even if she had the power in her legs to run away from such a conversation, this was going to be one of those occasions where one – what? Took it like a man? Got it over and done with? Held your nose and swallowed it down? Her maiden heart gave a sickening lurch.
Uncomfortable? Embarrassing? So it was true.
Jane had said so herself, while Rachel and Marilla displayed Anne's trousseau to Mrs Harmon Andrews. The two had inched away from the parlour where Anne's trunk of treasures was being displayed, and skipped off into the garden.
'Your negligee is so delicately done, Anne. I really believe I couldn't buy it's equal,' Jane said with an air of bestowing a great compliment on her dearest friend. 'I find it strange,' she continued, picking at a stray leaf overhead, 'that we should go to such great lengths for them. While they – men – do whatever they please.'
So began the unsettling talk of the millionaire's wife and the marriage bed.
'Of course Sydney is a dear, and so attentive and thoughtful in almost every way.' Anne knew now what that "almost" did not include. 'But the whole episode is just so ...uncomfortable. If it wasn't blasphemous, I would question God's design in having a man lying all over a woman. You can't help your legs coming apart.' The leaf in her hand was now picked to pieces and scattered away on the lawn. 'Not that you'd want to, of course,' she added.
They were called back to the house so that Jane might admire the lace on Anne's pillowslips. When Anne caught sight of her nightgown again it was no longer the sweet girlish thing it once had been to her eyes.
The view had changed from where Diana Wright stood too.
'Oh Anne!' Diana declared, her eyes and mouth the same large O's. 'I can tell you because I can tell you everything!'
Anne swallowed hard in readiness for what was bound to be an extraordinary revelation, and wished her bosom-friend might be a little more discreet – if not for her sake at least for Fred.
'It was just so embarrassing to see Fred like... that. To see my quiet, sturdy, handsome Fred turn completely to jelly. As quivering and red as anything you might see at a Sunday school picnic. And the noises! Now you know Fred's not much for small talk, but he makes these little noises – almost squeaks!' Here she attempted the sound, it had the rhythmic pitch of a child jumping on a rusty bed. 'But that's not the worst of it.' Diana gripped Anne's arms, with a look upon her face as though she was about to tell one of her gruesome Story Club tales. 'The worst is when the squeaking stops and he makes this sort of sound... like he stubbed his toe upon a table leg – and then – he plants his face headlong into my pillow!'
For one awful moment it looked as though Diana meant to act this out too, then thought better of it.
'Oh, Anne. I was so embarrassed for the poor man. I was just real glad I couldn't see his face.'
Anne thought she could never look Fred in the face again either. From then on whenever the Wrights visited she invited Fred to walk along wide open spaces and uncluttered paths, lest she hear the noise imagined in her head.
Presently Mrs Rachel strode briskly up the swept clear path of Green Gables, a bouquet of mint in her hands. She rinsed and patted it dry with equal briskness, and dunked into the pitcher of tea.
'I don't know what's keeping Marilla so long with that needle. There's a bunch of 'em right here in this pin-cushion. She does stuff them overmuch I notice. Wouldn't surprise me if these ones were all bent from trying to get in!'
Anne's cheeks blazed once more, to Rachel's approval for she was one for colour and snap in a girl.
'Oh Gilbert'll be real glad to have you at last, Anne. And though I do not pretend that my Thomas had much to compare to your Gilbert, when it comes to the having I can't imagine there's much "scope for the imagination" as you like to say.' Rachel took a slurp of her tea, her thoughts no longer on Anne's marriage, but on her own. 'Not that it's a terrible business, mind you. But neither is it this making love like those awful novels would have you believe. And pay no mind to those who'd say it's just for procreation come to that, for you may take it from me I would recall the exact hour we came to make our children if it were.'
'So much for what it is not, Rachel,' said Marilla, appearing in the entrance to the kitchen. 'Time, I think, to speak of what it is.'
'Well now, when it comes right down to it perhaps I don't know after all. It's a mystery, is what it is, Anne,' said Rachel, 'so's of course we're not supposed to know.'
'It's a sacred act,' Marilla said with finality.
Rachel bestowed a big-eyed look on the confirmed spinster. It really wasn't for Marilla to say – and yet she said it so well. The wife of forty-one years contented herself with a small amendment. 'It's an act of faith on your part I'd say... and an act of love on his part, I suppose.'
Anne smiled at the women in front of her with bursting affection.
'You'll be just fine, my dear. Besides which he's a doctor!' Rachel gave Anne an emphatic nod. 'So he's sure to know what's what –'
'Ah, Rachel,' Marilla shoved the napkins under Rachel's nose. 'Why don't you help me choose a stitch for the embroidery. You mentioned a satin stitch I think, but I thought a cross stitch might be pretty.'
'Cross stitch!' Mrs Rachel blurted. 'This isn't some child's sampler!'
Anne placed kisses upon the good ladies cheek and laughed and slipped away to Lover's Lane, where Gilbert found her; and neither of them seemed to entertain much fear, or hope, that their married life would cure them of romance.