Anne of Green Gables
Anne's Magical Mystery Tour
Standard Disclaimers Apply
The next morning Anne was up with the sun. She was particular to choose a dress Gil had admired her in and to do her hair in a way she knew he was fond of, then she crept downstairs. Careful not to wake Marilla, Rachel or Katherine, she set to, finished her chores in record time and leaving a note saying not to worry, she was with Gilbert and would be back by lunch-time, she picked up her purse and her flower-basket and set off for the crossroads. It was going to be a beautiful bright summer’s day, but to be honest Anne would have taken this walk come rain, hail or snow. Her heart was drumming as she scurried down the road towards the crossroads. Had yesterday really happened? Were she and Gil really engaged? Suddenly she felt afraid that it had all just been a dream. Just as she had on the day she had arrived at her beloved Green Gables, she pinched herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. ‘Ouch! Yes, I felt that so I can’t be dreaming.’ She thought happily.
As she came around the last corner her heart sank, no Gil. She looked at her watch. It said five minutes past eight. True, they had not been due to meet until 8:30 am, but she had hoped that he would be as keen to see her as she was to see him. Damping down her disappointment, she hurried over to Lawson’s General Store just as Alice Lawson was opening up. Alice greeted her with a surprised smile. “Good gracious Anne Shirley! I thought everyone would be resting after the bonfire last night and here you are, earlier than ever!" “Good morning Alice. It’s going to be a glorious day, isn’t it?” Anne beamed. “Did you enjoy the bonfire?” Alice nodded eagerly: “Yes it was great and Alice seems so happy. But the amount of dancing you and that Miss Brooke of yours were doing, you have no right looking so bright-eyed!” she teased.
Anne laughed: “I’m so glad Katherine had a good time, she deserves it. Fred was a chum to persuade her to dance, she wasn’t so nervous then.” “Is Katherine not with you now?” peering through the window to see if Miss Brooke was waiting outside. Anne shook her auburn head: “No, she’s sleeping a perfectly good morning away. Whilst I think of it, can I please have two small bottles of lemonade, two pieces of ham pie and a couple of boxes of plums?” Alice hurried to get them and returned to the counter: “Two of everything Anne?” she asked with a twinkle in her eyes.
Anne took a deep breath to steady her voice, nerves and suddenly fluttering heart: “Gilbert came over to Green Gables last night; he is a great deal better but it was his first long walk and he was too tired to make the bonfire. He asked me to give his apologizes and I suggested a breakfast ramble to make up for the disappointment.” There, she had said his name aloud without shaking and her explanation wasn’t exactly a fib; she had, after all, suggested the walk. Alice held in a romantic sigh. She should have guessed Green Gables would be Gilbert’s first thought as soon as his legs would carry him. Everyone this side of Bright River knew that Gilbert Blythe and Anne Shirley were sweet on each other, except, it seemed, Anne Shirley. “Well, in that case you take these with my best wishes to Gilbert for a speedy recovery, and I’ll add two slices of sponge cake for good measure.” She said going to fetch them. Anne beamed but then looked doubtful: “Alice, that’s very generous of you, but you sure?” Alice pretended to frown, but her eyes were smiling: “Of course I’m sure Anne. It’s a mean world if I can’t be glad of Gilbert being well again after what he’s been through...” Anne shuddered at the memory as Alice continued: “Now, will you please SHOO! Or do I have to run you out of here with a broom?” They both laughed and Anne turned to leave: “Thank you Alice, from Gil to, though I’m sure he’ll be in to thank you himself. I’ll see you soon!”
With that Anne left, the shop bell tinkling merrily behind her, and Alice went back to work, secure in the knowledge that she had ‘done her good deed for the day’.
Anne knew as soon as she walked out of the store; Gilbert Blythe was nowhere to be seen but she could feel him watching her. She smiled and decided to play along with the game. Now, where would she hide if she were Gil? Not by the drinking fountain or the side of the church hall. Perhaps in the tea shop, but that would be no good; she would see him as plain as day then. Sighing dramatically, sure that he could hear her, she stood in the very centre of the crossroads (glad there was still no-one else around), closed her eyes and let her spirit reach out for him. As if by magic, an old childhood saying of hers popped into her head and she knew exactly where he would be. She all but ran down the southern fork of the road and just as she reached the crown of the bend, Gilbert dived out from behind the old Maple tree, grabbed her round the waist and pulled her to him. She squeaked in surprise and almost dropped her flower-basket, but grinned as she scolded him: “Gilbert John Blythe! Unhand me this instant!” Gil laughed: “Not a chance Anne!” Then he grew serious: “I told you last night I’d never let you out of my arms again if I could help it. Now, will you PLEASE stop wriggling, put the basket down and let me kiss you?” She did so.
Several minutes later Gil pulled back and kissed her on the end of her nose: “So then ‘Carrots’, how you know where I’d be?” he beamed. They both knew he already knew the answer, but Anne replied anyway. “Oh, I knew a little girl once who used to say ‘There’s a always a bend in every road’, and I know the Shore Road is your favourite, so I put two and two together, came to the bend in the Shore Road and here you were.” Gil sighed contentedly: “A fiancée who’s clever and incredibly beautiful; how lucky can a man be?” Anne blushed prettily: “Gil, you praise me too much. You are just as clever as I (else why would we always have tied for first in all those exams?), and as for beautiful…” He put a hand to her lips to stop her: “You misquote me Anne Shirley, I said ‘incredibly beautiful’. You really must learn to take my complements; you’ll be hearing them for the rest of our lives!” “I shall try, my love, I promise I shall try; it’s just this awful red hair!” she cried “I thought you’d decided it was auburn?” he asked surprised.
“Oh I have, almost! It’s just that whenever I try to look pretty, it still feels red, that’s all!” Gilbert bit back a chuckle, laughing now would be a disaster. “Well, to me you always look beautiful and I know you know how much I like that dress you’re wearing. Now, where we going? Will you tell me who we are going to visit yet? Is it Diana?” Anne giggled and shook her head: “No Gil, it’s not Diana. Now can have breakfast before the lemonade goes flat?”
Some time later they were sitting on the sand dunes finishing the last of the plums when Gilbert spoke up: “That was great Anne. I feel ready for wherever we are going now!” Anne laughed: “Don’t thank me Sweetheart, thank Alice Lawson. When she heard we were going on a breakfast ramble, she wouldn’t let me pay for a thing! Says it’s her way of saying she glad you’re well again. She even threw the cake in as extra!” Gil smiled: “That was very nice of her. I will go and see her later. Everyone is being so kind to me now that I am up and about again.”
Anne turned away, suddenly angry. “That’s as may be Gilbert Blythe, and no-one could be more glad than I that you are well again. But why people should go treating you for scaring us all half out of our souls with fear is completely beyond me!” by now she had stood and was stalking away from him down the sand. Gilbert was so stunned, it took a second before he got up and chased after her. “Anne! Wait! Stop! Please!” He held her by the arm now and as she tried wriggle away he saw the tears flooding down her cheeks; each one pierced his heart like a knife. “Anne what is it? What’s wrong?” he pleaded. “What’s wrong?! How can you ask me that, don’t you know?” she stormed. The infamous temper of Anne’s childhood had returned in full hurricane force. Gilbert felt more helpless than the moment she had broken the slate over his head. “Talk to me Anne Shirley, please! Tell me what I’ve done or said; then I can apologize!” Anne stood tall and wiped her cheeks angrily with the back of her hand:
“Alright then Mister Blythe, answer me this! IF you love me as much as you say you do, why, why did no-one send for me? Even if only as your best friend. I would have come in an instant, dropped everything! You must know that! Why Gil, why?!” Gilbert felt as though he had just been punched, hard, in the stomach:
“IF I love you, if! My God, Anne! I love you more than anything in this world! My heart and soul belong to you; they have since that dumb three-legged race! You gave me the will to live, you must know that!” he cried. Anne was too furious to let it go just yet: “Must I Gilbert? Must I?! Then why did you not want me? Why keep me away? Do you know how I found out? Well, do you?!” Gilbert shook his head, ignoring his own tears. “Minne-May Barry blurted in out when we were at tea! She said you dying! I found out I was loosing my best friend, the man I realized in that moment I love more than life itself, from a four year old girl!” Here she crumpled and sank down onto the sand sobbing. In an instant Gilbert was kneeling by her side, pulling her into his arms: “Oh Anne, I’m so, so sorry my love! I was such a fool! I should have known, you are right. How could I have thought so little of my best friend? It’s no excuse, but I was jealous as hell because I thought you were still with Morgan Harris, and I guessed from the bits and pieces I heard that Kingsport wasn’t going well. I didn’t want to burden you.” Anne composed herself just enough to speak: “Burden me? You could never do that. Make me so mad I can hardly see straight perhaps, but you could never burden me!” She felt him smile against her hair: “I deserved that.” he said. “.Yes you did!” she snuffled. “I was so scared Gil!” the tears flowed again. Gilbert held her and rocked her as though she were small child: “I know you were Anne-girl, I know; so was I. But it over now, I am getting better and we are together at last.”
Anne shifted and sat up without support. She turned to her fiancé. She was no longer crying but her face was serious: “Gilbert? There’s something I need to tell you. It won’t be easy for you to hear, but I’d rather we dealt with it now than have it come out now than years down the line in some awful, spiteful fight when I can’t control my temper. Will you hear me out?” Gilbert was nervous now: “Yes Anne, whatever it is, I’ll listen, I swear.” “Thank you Gilbert.” She took his hands and looked him in the eyes. “When I heard Minnie-May say those words, I felt my soul, my spirit, freeze. I was never so frightened, ever, even when Matthew died in my arms. I told you once that everything I ever loved left me. That was how I felt, like it was happening all over again, only worse because you didn’t know. For a while that night (I stayed up by the window, I could never have slept), I was pretty darned mad at you for thinking about deserting me.” She smiled forgiveness. “Then dawn came, Marilla brought me my book, I showed her the dedication, she made me talk. I was so unhappy; afraid that I had come to my senses too late and you would never know I loved you. Then we saw Gerry. The rest you know.” She took a deep breath; it was done.
“Oh Anne!” Gilbert sighed. “I’m sorry I frightened you. I would never do that on purpose, never! But don’t you see? We were never truly apart, you and I; never from the second we met. You were always with me, in my head, and in my heart; the times when I would see you, you’d stick your nose in the air or snub me, I would collect every last one in my memory. Not because they hurt (although they sometimes did), but because they were a way to keep you near me. And then, when we became friends, that was great because then I got to collect your smile and laugh too. Then last night you made almost my every dream come true.” “Almost?” Anne whispered, not quite sure she wanted to hear the answer. Gil saw the look in her eyes and kissed her on the cheek: “Yes my love, I have one more dream; the dream I dreamt last night. It’s a dream that will have to wait for now, but it will be all the more sweet when it finally comes true.” “What is it Gil? Tell me please.” She asked eagerly. “Well, in the dream, I have just made you laugh, we are dancing to the music from the White Sands Ball, you are all in white with your beautiful hair piled high, the way it takes my breath away. Everyone we love is watching us.” “Our wedding reception!” Anne cried joyously. Gilbert laughed: “Partly yes, but will you quiet down and let me finish? You’re spoiling the mood here!” “Sorry Gil.” Anne giggled. “Alright, apology accepted. Now where was I?” “We’re dancing at our wedding reception.” Anne supplied helpfully. “Ah yes, I remember now. We dance to that music for the first time that day with everyone watching and then again later when we are by ourselves. The second time I spin you around too fast and a strand of hair falls out of place. You go to put it back but I stop you, take the pins from the rest of your hair until it falls round your shoulders and kiss every single beautiful, soft, silky, red stand of it. You wanted my dream, there, that’s all of it. Anne?”
For the last couple of sentences, Gilbert had turn darkest crimson with embarrassment and been staring intently at the sand falling through his fingers. When he got no reply, he looked up, fearing she would be disgusted, embarrassed or angry, but he need not have worried. Anne was sitting there, hands clasped in front of her, eyes closed, face raised slightly to the sun. Gilbert knew that pose of old. She couldn’t have paid him a bigger compliment; she was imagining his dream. Before she could open her eyes, he leant over and kissed her quickly on the lips. “A dream so easy to make come true, yet so difficult to wait for.” Anne shuddered at the feeling of his breath on her skin, but sat back and tried to compose herself: “Then we must work to bring the dream a little nearer each day, Gil.” She said in as near as she could manage to her best ‘let’s get things done’ voice. “Alright my lady, but where do we start?” he said enthusiastically. “Well, no even knows we’re engaged yet!” she laughed. “Then I’ll head right back to Green Gables this minute and ask Marilla!” he had already jumped to his feet. Anne burst out laughing: “Slow down Gil, slow down! First we clear away the breakfast things, then we scour the Island until my basket is full of the prettiest flowers this side of Ontario, then we ask permission! Right?” “Oh yes, right, flowers, good idea.” he said flustered.
So it was that Gilbert and Anne spent most of the rest of the morning wondering this way and that in the meadows of Prince Edward Island picking the prettiest wild flowers they could find. Several times they stopped for Gilbert to rest, and none of the friends who greeted them as they strolled along arm in arm saw anything unusual, for the two best friends often walked that way together. As they strolled they chatted about everything and nothing. Gil told Anne his side of many a shared memory and vice versa. His version of the story of the Carmody Christmas Ball earned Gilbert a playful punch in the arm. “So Diana was right after all, it was you who took my dance-card! You little thief!” Anne cried. Gilbert shrugged and tried to look contrite: “You wouldn’t dance with me and I wanted a memory.” “Oh, so it was my fault, was it? That’s rich!” Anne laughed. “Maybe so, but I wanted to remember you; what else can I say?” Anne’s smile faded: “Well, nothing about that I suppose, but you can promise me something.” “Of course, what?” Gilbert asked lying some wild poppies carefully in the flower basket. “Promise me you know how I feel about you. You do know I love you, don’t you?” Gilbert stopped and turned Anne’s shoulders until she was facing him: “Yes Anne, I promise you I know you love me.” She smiled with relief and he kissed her first on the cheek and the on the top of her head sending a shiver through her. “Now, no more doubts, alright?” Gilbert drew Anne’s arm back through his, signaling an end to such a serious topic. “ You still haven’t told me about the bonfire. Did I miss any fun?” “Not much, although I did have a good time with Katherine. Her smile is quite pretty now she lets herself wear it. To be honest, I spent most of the evening fit to burst with excitement!” Here, she put her arm around Gilbert’s waist and he put his arm across her shoulders: “I do think Diana was a little put out with me though.” Gilbert was puzzled. Anne and Diana were almost inseparable whenever both were in Avonlea, and rarely, if ever, had a cross word. “What on earth would make you say that Anne?” he asked. “Well, I had to avoid her most of the night because she would have known what had happened just from the look on my face! ‘Bosom Friends’ are like that you see.”
“Ahh, I see!” he laughed, understanding. “Well, when we do tell everyone, I’ll talk to her if you want; but somehow, I’m pretty sure she’ll forgive you!” “Yes, I think so to!” Anne smiled. “What do you think, should we take some of these?” she gestured to some yellow daisy-like flowers in a nearby hedge-row. Gilbert nodded: “Yes, they’ll look nice on Marilla’s kitchen table. Anything else happen?”
“Well, let’s see; Josie Pye was her usual horrid but sugar coated self. I swear she spent the better part of twenty minutes talking about how being a teacher was ‘such a worthy occupation for a single woman’! Honestly Gil, it’s a good thing Fred had taken Katherine out for a dance, or I don’t know WHAT I would have done. I was tempted to tell Josie everything, just to wipe that silly, smug little smile off her face!” Anne seethed. Gilbert squeezed his fiancé’s shoulder comfortingly: “I’m glad you didn’t Anne-girl. Good news is wasted on Josie Pye and her old cronies! A gang of spiteful old cats the lot of them; you’re worth a million of them!” “You’re biased!” she teased. “Yes I am, and proud to admit it! But I’m also right.” Anne hugged him and then sighed: “This basket is almost full now; we should go now if I’m going to make it back home for lunch.”
With that, Anne turned and headed up the hill in the opposite direction to Green Gables. “Anne?” Gilbert was confused. “No Gil, I haven’t lost my mind.” Anne smiled “It’s time for our visit.” She said striding back up the road into Avonlea. Gilbert broke into a trot to keep up with her. “Alright Anne Shirley, now will you please tell who we are going to see?” he pleaded. Anne beamed at him: “I’m surprised you didn’t guess Gil. We will ask Marilla, but there’s someone else who’s blessing I want as well.” By now, they were outside the churchyard and the penny had finally dropped in Gilbert’s mind: “Matthew!” “Yes. I know it might seem odd but I wouldn’t feel right otherwise. Matthew meant everything to me. Can you hold the gate open please?” Gil returned her smile doing as she had asked: “I think it’s a lovely thing to do Anne-girl; not ‘odd’ at all. Typical of you to think of something so noble and romantic!”
He was rewarded for the complement with a peck on the cheek.
As the young couple approached Matthew Cuthbert’s simple marble head-stone, Gilbert took Anne’s hand and squeezed it reassuringly. Though he knew Anne came here once a week when at home and of course Marilla kept the plot in immaculate condition, he also knew that these visits were hard on the girl he loved. She tried to smile up at him but her eyes were already misty. Not wishing to intrude on a private moment, when the reached the headstone Gil slipped the basket from Anne’s arm and took a couple of steps back, ostensibly to give himself enough room to take some of the flowers out of the basket. Anne crouched down and ran her hand lovingly across the name engraved on the stone. She began to talk softly, her voice wavering a little: “Hello Matthew, I know I came the day before yesterday, but Gil and I went on a breakfast ramble and I thought you might like some of the flowers we picked. If I bring this many home to Marilla she’ll only say I’m ‘cluttering up the inside with outside things’. I have some wonderful news dearest Matthew, I am finally perfectly happy; Gil and I are to be married!” Here she smiled back at Gil, who handed her some of the blooms, before returning her thoughts to Matthew: “Gil’s here with me now helping me with the flowers,,,,” Here Gilbert came closer and lay his hand on top of the headstone as if in proof. He stayed silent however, now was Anne’s opportunity to break the news, his turn would come with Marilla. Something in that thought made Gilbert’s stomach tighten. Everybody knew that years of having Anne Shirley living at Gables had softened Marilla Cuthbert a great deal, but Gil still had the feeling he would face a tough grilling. Anne was still speaking softly; “…but you knew that didn’t you, Mathew? I just wanted you to be the first person to hear me say the words I suppose. Well, we’d better go; Marilla will have lunch ready and I haven’t seen her yet today. Goodbye dear, sweet Matthew.” She stood up and turned back to Gilbert. He wiped the tears from her cheeks with his thumbs, then kissed her on the tip of the nose; “Ready Darling?” he asked. “Ready.” She agreed. With that they left the churchyard.
On the way through Avonlea, Anne had an idea. She went back into Lawson’s, and whilst Gilbert thanked Alice for the picnic, Anne bought three pieces of the prettiest ribbon she could find. When Gilbert looked at her quizzically she simply smiled. They left Lawson’s and Gilbert could hold in the question no longer: “What’s the ribbon for?” “To tie up Marilla’s bouquet & make posies for Rachel and Katherine. Here, help me.” Anne walked over to the bench outside the post office. Gilbert joined her. She studied his face but aware they were still in public, she resisted the urge to stroke his cheek. “Gil, you’re tired; I’ve kept you out far too long. I’m sorry.”
Gilbert smiled: “Anne, I’m fine; really. But if it makes you feel better, I promise, I’ll sleep this afternoon, alright?”
“Alright, as long as you promise.” Anne smiled. “These are ready now. Let’s go.”
They made their way up to Green Gables the back way, but Gilbert stopped her just before they came into view of the house. “What is it Gil?” Anne asked surprised. Gil grinned: “Well, I don’t mean to be unkind, but we both know Rachel Lynde has the eyes of an eagle-owl and I wanted to kiss you once more; just to give me courage!” “Oh, I think that could be arranged!” Anne giggled lifting her face towards him. As they broke the kiss, Anne spoke up: “You know Gil, much as I love Rachel; I want us to tell Marilla alone. It’s only right. Would you mind waiting here a few minutes while I find Katherine and ask her to distract Rachel?” He shook his head: “No, of course not; but here, you’d better let me have the flowers or you’ll ‘give the game away’.” “Clever as well as incredibly handsome.” She said, turning his own earlier compliment back on him. She handed him the basket and kissed him on the end of the nose. “I’ll be back as quickly as I can.” She smiled, heading off. “I’ll be here.” He assured her.
Anne’s good luck was holding for once. As she turned the final corner, she saw Katherine standing alone by the front gate watching what there was of the world go by and enjoying the view. Her face broke into a smile: “Hello Katherine, you’re just the person I wanted to see!” Katherine looked somewhat surprised at this; she was still not at all used to people in general (and Anne Shirley in particular), treating her so kindly. “Hello Anne. Did you enjoy your ramble?” “Yes thank you, very much. How about you, did find something to do this morning?” Katherine smiled: “Yes, well I slept late and then I did something I haven’t done in years; I sketched. I tried to draw the June Lilies, but I’m afraid I’m very much out of practice!” “Well, while you’re here feel to practice as much as you like.” Anne encouraged. “Do you know where Marilla and Rachel are?” Katherine nodded: “Miss Cuthbert is in the kitchen seeing to lunch and I think Mrs. Lynde is in the parlour sewing,” Anne grinned: “Good. Katherine, would you mind doing me a big favour?” Now Katherine looked even more surprised: “I can try.” She said a little doubtfully. “Great!” Anne beamed. Well, it’s just that we, I mean I, I need a private word with Marilla and I was hoping you’d agree to sit with Mrs. Lynda awhile, just so as she doesn’t feel slighted.” Here Anne dropped her voice to a whisper: “Just between you and me, Rachel can be a bit of a trial when she feels slighted!” Katherine looked a little alarmed: “I’d like to help Anne, really I would, but what should I talk about? I hardly know Mrs. Lynde!” “Katherine you’ll be fine! Tell her about the bonfire (she’ll be dying for gossip) and show her your picture of the June Lilies, she’ll like that.” “I don’t know…” “Please Katherine! It should only take a few minutes. I promise!” Katherine knew all too well she was being railroaded, but it must have the magic of Avonlea, for she gave in: “Alright Anne. I’ll go and get my sketch.” “Thank you Katherine, thank you!” Anne cried happily. Then, much to Katherine’s utter astonishment, Anne turned on her heel and fairly raced back up the hill at a most unladylike speed!
Gilbert sat on the stile and waited impatiently for Anne to return. He was very tired, but he would never admit that to Anne. She would only fret about him and she had already done more than enough of that. As he sat there waiting, he thought back to the previous evening. He had set off home as fast as he could. He felt like he was walking on air. The feel of Anne’s kiss was still warm on his lips and his heart was pounding. Spending any length of time around his family would be nearly impossible with this secret to keep, so he tried to act calmly as he had strolled up to the house. Greeting his father who sat reading on the front porch, he had slipped quietly into the kitchen and asked his mother if she would mind heating him some milk so that he could take it up to bed. Mrs. Blythe had become concerned at this, and begun to fuss, worrying that the colour on his cheeks was high and his eyes were far too bright. But he eventually calmed her, reassuring her that as he had just come back from his first long walk he was bound to be tired and the milk he had asked for and a good night’s sleep would surely see him right. With that he had escaped up to his room and into his daydreams and plans. The daydreams were like old friends to him. He had dreamed them countless times, they were the ribbon that kept the parcel of his memories together. Not single a day had gone by in the years since they met that Anne hadn't appeared at least in his mind’s eye. (He would never tell anyone this, but in one of the few lucid moments of his fever, he had heard his parents whispering anxiously outside in the hall: “John, we must! He speaks hardly anything but her name. When the fever is highest he weeps for her! You have seen the tears yourself! Please, we must!” “No Martha we can’t! The last time he was lucid he begged me not to! Said seeing her when she belonged to another man would kill him, and right now that is exactly what it would do! I’m no doctor, I’ll leave that for Gil please God, but we can’t betray our son’s wishes!” (Gil knew his mother must have cried then but he remembered no more).
So many times over the years, the daydreams had seemed so real that he would reach out to touch them only to find himself blinking back tears as the beautiful picture melted away on the breeze. Last night had been different. Last night the dreams had not melted away. Last night he had touched her cheek again, but last night he had also FINALLY tasted the sweet promise of the future in her kiss! Now, at last he could allow himself to turn his dreams into plans. A lot of those plans he was looking forward to working out side by side with Anne, but the one he had in mind just now as he sat waiting on the stile was his alone, and it was going to be a particularly tricky one.
Just as was about to start work on it however, Anne re-emerged around the corner and instantly captured his whole attention as always. “Gil! Come on, it’s all arranged. Katherine is keeping Rachel occupied as we speak. But we should hurry; if I know Rachel Lynde (and Lord knows I should!) she won’t be kept back for long once she gets the whiff of something in the air!” Gilbert jumped down off the stile, picked up the basket and met Anne half way to the path, laughing all the while: “Alright ‘Carrots’, I’m coming. If this is what the future has in store for me, I can see I’m going to be well and truly ‘hen-pecked!” By now, he had reached Anne’s side and she put an arm around his waist: “Ohh, you rat!” she teased. Then it was her turn to become serious: “Have you decided how you’re going to ask Marilla yet”
“Yep.” Gil grinned. He kept the fact that he had decided nigh on two years ago to himself, for now. “Do you want me to come in with you, or should I wait for you to call?” Anne asked. “No, come in. I’d hate to deprive you of the look on Marilla’s face.” “Alright, so, are you ready to do this?” Anne was nervous. Gilbert on the other hand, hid his nerves as best he could: “Yes I am. I love you Anne.” “And I love you Gilbert.”
Marilla was standing by the stove making plum puffs when she heard the knock on the back door. This was such a rare event that she started in surprise. She was even more surprised when she turned round to see Anne standing there. Why on earth would the ‘blessed child’ knock on her own back door?! Then she saw young Gilbert Blythe standing beside Anne, looking for all the world as if he were about to face a firing squad, and she knew exactly why. Marilla’s heart did an enormous somersault but she tried to stay calm as she shook the flour from her hands and took off her apron: “Well now there you are Anne Shirley! Come in, come in. I was starting to wonder if we’d see you this side of sunset!”
Anne smiled broadly: “I’m sorry Marilla; our ramble took longer than we expected, but we picked you some flowers and Gilbert wanted to pay his respects to Matthew.”
Here Gilbert stepped into the kitchen: “Miss Cuthbert.” Marilla nodded politely “Gilbert; I’m glad to see you looking so well.
Take a seat. Some cordial?” she asked.
Gilbert sat down but shook his head: “No, thank you Miss Cuthbert, I’ll be fine.”
Anne hovered nervously by the door. Marilla didn’t think she Anne this fidgety since the time Anne had given Rachel as good as she got when Rachel had been unkind about Anne’s appearance and that must have at least six years ago, if not more!
Still, Marilla bit back a smile as Gilbert began: “Miss Cuthbert, you’ve known for a long time now that I love Anne.”
“Indeed I have Mr. Blythe. I’ve had the notion awhile now and I daresay Matthew had it before me.”
Here she heard Anne gasp. “But then he was always better with things of the heart than I, despite his shyness. Incidentally, I knew for certain when you gave Anne Avonlea and took the Carmody school yourself; though Anne wasn’t the only one grateful for that.”
“Thank you Miss Cuthbert. That means a lot to me.”
Marilla granted him the favour of a small smile. She would not give Anne away easily, and no-one, least of all Gilbert, could blame her for that. “Well, you see Ma'am,… Last night I asked Anne to marry me. It’ll be five years of medical school for me before any wedding and nothing fancy even then, but I love Anne with all my heart and well, we’re here to ask your blessing.”
Here Marilla turned to Anne: “Anne, is this what you want?” The older woman was expecting some long ‘flowery’ speech at this, and so was quite surprised when Anne simply went and stood beside Gilbert’s chair taking his hand: “Yes it is Marilla. So much. I just can’t imagine my life without Gil.” At this Marilla almost laughed. FINALLY! Something that even Anne Shirley couldn’t imagine! This was serious! However, she bit the inside of her lip and returned her gaze to Gilbert: “Well then Gilbert Blythe, you may have my blessing and my daughter’s hand in marriage.” She beamed.
The next few seconds were a blur of hugs, kisses and flowers, but then, quite suddenly, Anne burst into tears. Gilbert looked alarmed: “Anne?” Marilla however, as in days past, hid her concern (and unshed tears) under a protective blanket of prickles:
“Whatever is it, child? You’ve just announced you are engaged, this is what you’ve wanted all long and yet, now you’ve got it, you stand here weeping like a willow? You do beat all Anne Shirley!” “Oh Marilla!”
In that moment Marilla was transported back in time by the look on Anne’s face. Back to the first time they had ever stood in this kitchen; Anne a twelve year old, all poetry and pig-tails and Marilla herself all starched surprise and pompous fury at having been sent a girl by mistake. They had all come a long way since then and no mistake!
“Marilla, don’t you realize? Didn’t you hear yourself?” Anne breathed: “That’s the first time you’ve ever called me your daughter!” Now Marilla to shed tears as she pulled Anne into a tight embrace, but aware that Gilbert was gallantly pretending not notice, she stood back quickly and carried on: “Well, I suppose we’d better tell Rachel before she explodes with curiosity.” With this Marilla bustled into the hallway. Gilbert stood up and hugged Anne as the older woman’s words made them laugh:
“Rachel! Rachel! You’ve always been one for Providence, so you best come and meet it, for it’s standing right here in my kitchen!”
Mrs. Lynde’s reaction as she and Katherine were given their posies and told the happy news? “I said so all along, that’s what!”
Go to the sequel Mr. Blythe's Spirit