This is a chapter for chapter retelling of Anne of the Island in the form of Diary entries, and follows the characters through their first year at college. You don't need to be familiar with Anne of the Island to enjoy my story ~ though you may find you want to read it once you've finished this.
With love and gratitude to Maud ~ everything is hers, only this idea is mine
REDMOND DIARIES : THE FIRST YEAR
The main characters are ~
Anne Shirley who comes from Green Gables, Avonlea, and boards at 38 St Johns Road, Kingsport
Gilbert Blythe who comes from Allwinds, Avonlea, and boards at Acton House, Kingsport
Charlie Sloane who comes from Sloane House, Avonlea, and boards at Acton House, Kingsport
Priscilla Grant who comes from New Line Road, West Grafton, and boards at 38 St Johns Road, Kingsport
Philippa Gordon who comes from Mount Holly, Bolingbroke, and boards at Wallace Street, Kingsport
Diana Barry who comes from Orchard Slope, Avonlea
Josie Pye who comes from The Palisades, Avonlea
Ruby Gillis who comes from White Lily Lodge, Avonlea
Jane Andrews who comes from Brown Gate Farm, Avonlea
Friday August 21st, 1883
On the porch of my beloved Green Gables, amongst the bounty of Avonlea, within the pearl of the Island, cradled upon the glittering sea.
Oh, bright little book with your crisp white pages, smelling fresh as a pillowcase hung out in the sun! I have the best news to tell and you mustn't be envious. I know when I discovered you at Lawson's last Monday (poor thing you were, squashed under all the almanacs) I vowed you alone should be the keeper of my secrets. And while I hope to make many friends during FOUR YEARS at college I cannot imagine a day I don't turn to you.
If you should doubt my love then please note the way I address you with a capital letter. Doesn't it look so much better that way? Though perhaps I should give you a proper name. Nothing romantic. I couldn't be telling my deepest secrets to an Aurelia: as glittering as your gilded edges. Or an Esmeralda: in honour of the jewel-bright green of your cover. No, you will need a more dependable name, for you are to be my absolute rock. Though I shan't call you Peter. Not because I have an abhorrence of boys (though Anthony Pye might think otherwise.) I happen to be friends with many nice boys, and one who is very nice ~ only nice is not the right word, exactly. But I can't bear to cross out anything on my very first page.
The truth is if I call you Peter I shall think of Mrs. Peter Sloane, and I would rather admit my hair isn't auburn than to have to tolerate that! To come to you, Diary, in my hour of need only to think of Sloanes. You won't know what that means just yet, but take it from me that Sloanishness is to my billowing thoughts what a goat is to that crisp white pillowcase. Perhaps not a goat… more a bog. Yes, a bog! That sticks to my kidskin boots and the lacy trim of my best summer gown. Of course, Sloanes can't help their boggy ways, and I'm sure that a bog has its uses. Not that I can think of one, but still...
If I sound muddled it is simply because I am. When Marilla declared that I dust off my ambitions and hie me to Redmond, I felt she had handed me the moon and could not walk for soaring. But that was when I had a whole summer to drink in. Now that cup is almost empty. Now I am hurtling back to earth, sinking with the thought of leaving my home, my schoolhouse, my Diana, my Island… I couldn't bring myself to write in you until I had something Anne-ish to say.
I suppose I might have filled you with future fancies, but my thoughts would keep turning to the two boys who are also heading for Redmond: Charlie Sloane (that epitome of Sloanishness) and Gilbert Blythe, who is that very nice chum I mentioned (though nice is not the word exactly). When you leave your Eden, Diary, the first thing you must do is find yourself a safe place to fall, and when I think of Gilbert safe is not the word that springs to mind. So where to fall? Because make no mistake, I WILL. I have never lost the knack of it, in much the way I have never lost the knack for growing red hair. And when I'm all alone and on my knees and every strand on my head glows vermillion, who should I turn to but you?
Now Diary, I want you to remember that when I tell you my news. Goodness, what a winding path I took to get to it.
PRISCILLA GRANT IS COMING TO REDMOND AFTER ALL!
She says in her letter that she already found us a boarding house in Kingsport ~ and then didn't describe one bit of it! So I have imagined a friendly fire, a window seat, and a pine scented air to lull me to sleep when I am longing for my dear sweet home.
As much as I shall depend on you Diary, sharing this adventure with a real, live girl makes the bitter pill of leaving so much easier to swallow. I have been on eggshells about her coming for the longest time! I am sure it was that, and not anything else ~ as I said Gilbert and I are very good chums, and he is very ? Well, whatever the word that eludes me I am certain this skittery feeling will cease now Priscilla's father has finally decided to let Priss go. Why he took so long to decide ~ but that is forgotten now. Now I shall send him a Christmas card every year. The expensive kind with hand-coloured scenes. Now they are nice.
I will not say that Gilbert isn't, but therein lies the problem because I think he means to be more than nice. And it's going to ruin everything. For proof please note that ever since he put his hand on mine this afternoon I haven't been able to write properly. (Which Diary, if you could look at yourself you would sadly attest to.) He is the brightest boy I know, not only in smarts but in heart and deed. Yet sometimes he can be so clod headed. Bogs and clods, you see why I have need of you. Tell me true, Diary, if a young man inquires as to your thoughts (was there ever a more dangerous question?) and you tell him that you are afraid to speak for fear that all the beauty we had been admiring would vanish like a broken silence, should he not conclude that now was not the time for talk? But that is unfair, for he never said a word after that but let his HAND do the talking. If he ever tries something so foolish again I am sure to fail in the first term ~ handwriting is rather essential I've heard.
Oh, why must he do this now, when we are about to embark on our long-cherished dream? I credit him with spurring me on to unimagined heights. I would never have set my sights on Redmond if I didn't have Gilbert nipping at my elbow. Now it seems he would rather tuck his arm around it.
And now I have an enormous blob of ink on the page and no blotter to hand. I should have crossed out nice when I had the chance!
August 21st, 1883, Sloane House, Sloane Lane, Avonlea, P.E.I
Weather: mild, slight sou' west breeze
Ate: Porridge with stewed prunes and Jersey milk; cold ham, cold potatoes and slaw; cold ham, boiled potatoes and slaw, and cold strawberry pie for afters. Also sundry soft fruit and five peppermints (Lawson's not Blair's)
Good evening diary,
1) While perusing previous entries discovered I have yet to request fourth vest from Mother. She will have to knit in smartish fashion as I will need it packed post haste. I believe a medium brown will be suitable to match my eyes, my hair, my shoes, my trousers and all my ties. Except my grey tie. But I have my grey vest for that.
2) Inquire as to the cost of Diana Barry's betrothal ring. (Discreetly). It appears modest and Fred Wright is not the sort to be extravagant over trinkets, though it must have some quality to it as Diana rubs hers overly much and nothing has fallen off. Look into cost of reinforcing the setting. (Extra cost?)
3) Purchase additional diaries for college this week. Left it too late last year and was vexed to discover the Purvis brand sold out. The binding on this one is second rate and still regret losses of May 28-June 2.
4) Have hair cut before the Avonlea Village Improvement Society ("AVIS") Farewell Party next week. Anne Shirley is to be given a copy of Shakespeare as a thank you for her services as secretary. Am still cut up about being voted down 22-3 for my suggestion of a recipe booklet. Not only would it have cost less, there is sure to be a copy of that playwright's works at Redmond library which Anne could read for free. Not that she needs encouraging. Despite being adopted by the Cuthberts seven years ago Mother avers that Anne will never be the housekeeper Marilla Cuthbert is (possible to remedy?) See below:
4a) Look into Domestic Sciences at Redmond and persuade Anne to take one or two classes? (Also discreetly)
5) Learn a passage of Shakespeare by heart by the time of the Party to recite with an improvised air. No doubt Blythe has memorised every play. Look into sonnets which are also shorter.
Respectfully, C. Sloane
Friday August 21st, 1883; Allwinds, Avonlea
Before we begin you should know I am writing this to settle a matter of conscience rather than a matter of need. Josiah Allan, a fine fellow and an excellent minister, sought me out after service last Sunday, and said, "Gilbert, my lad, I've got something for you."
Lad? I'm almost twenty-one. I didn't say that, of course, I just smiled like an idiot as he handed me this blank book.
He believes that in the hectic years ahead I will not have much time for reflection, which I believe was his polite way of saying church. In any case, he thought you/ this book should remedy my moral decline to some degree, and to some degree I feel I should live up to Mr. Allan's expectations. Thus, my entry in you/ this book-
Already this won't do. There are too many variables in my life as it is. Well, one – but such a one. The universe may be described as one, while containing infinite mysteries as can never be discovered. Nevertheless, on the question of addressing a diary, the first words that come to mind are:
Dairy, airy, arid, dray, yard, raid, aid, air, day, and dry. I find myself drawn to dairy, that or Ida. Somehow, I can't imagine confiding to an Ida, and if I think of dairy it will only conjure an image of tall glass of milky white coolness and nothing will ever get writ.
Accordingly, this book is relegated to notebook and in this let me note:
Do get Father's assurance that Domino isn't loaned to Andrew Fletcher's youngest while I'm at Redmond. The horse will want breaking in all over again if Pippa-Fay gets her hands on him.
Do confirm whether Mr. Sadler needs help clearing the back field. Every penny counts.
Do ensure the Pye's two votes and the Sloane one does not, for reasons that only Pyes or Sloanes could demonstrate, prevail over the other twenty-two votes. I know Anne will adore that volume of Shakespeare, and if Pyes and Sloanes should win the day I'll just have to dig up Sadler's entire farm in order to get it for her. Besides it won't hurt to build up a little more – football season beckons.
Do persuade Mother to hunt out more gooseberries. I could live on her preserves and a hunk of bread, and dread the weeks ahead being made to gnaw on the sweaty haunch of ham the Sloanes are curing for Charlie. If he insists on hanging it in our room I shall have no choice but to hide his brown ties.
Do not, no matter what, no matter if it's on fire, no matter if it's the only thing that reaches for me in a roiling sea, DO NOT put my hand on Anne's.
EVER EVER AGAIN.
Green Gables, the wee smalls
I have just thought of the sweetest name for you, contained within your own good self. Henceforth you shall be Ida! Such a capable, hard-working, name to accompany me on my many labours.
Don't mind the pencil, I can't be doing with ink at this hour.
Goodnight, dear Ida!