Troth-Plight

"Oh, Gilbert, what am I going to to do?" Anne Shirley, twenty-two asked her beloved. They were walking very animatedly out of Avonlea on their favorite road; a road lined with large trees with full leafy canopies and wildflowers abloom in the clearings. Anne was acting out her frustrations as she repeated parts of the letter to Gilbert Blythe, age twenty-five. "You see here," Anne pointed to Diana's neat handwriting. "She says, she's 'afeared' we cannot call on them in Charlottetown when we go. Oh Gil, since when has Diana used the word 'afeared' for anything? It just seems wrong."

"Well, we can hardly expect that Fred and Diana have much time for old chums when they have Fred Junior to take care of." He grabbed Anne's hand and pulled her closer to him, removing her from the path of a bicyclist.

Anne was always sort of oblivious to her surroundings when Gilbert was in her company.

They continued to hold hands as they rambled down the lane into the woods towards Green Gables. It was a nice August, cooler than many in Anne's memory, but the sweetest part about this August was their engagement at the very beginning of it. Their happy news had finally reached the ears of most the area; Avonlea, White Sands, East Grafton, and Carmody. Anne and Gilbert were relieved to find themselves back to normal as their news slowly ceased to be gossip and was now part of the landscape.

"Diana's word choice reminds me of Josie Pye trying to wish me a happy engagement at church last week." Anne leaned on Gilbert a tiny bit and wrapped her arm around his waist and giggled. "You should have been there. It was killing her to say it, so she said, 'Anne, I hope you and Gilbert have a happy troth-plight'." Anne laughed and laughed at the memory. "I have no idea where she found such a highfalutin word, if there is one quality about Josie I do like, is her excellent command over the very simple ones."

Gilbert brightened up as he added to the conversation. "Actually Anne, I think you may have taught her that word. You had that very phrase in "Averil's Atonement". So, you only have yourself to blame." He said with dancing hazel eyes and tapping her nose in a teasing way. She glared at him as if to say, "Just try that again, bud!" But he leaned over and kissed her instead.

"Gilbert Blythe!" Anne said all wide-eyed, and now quite flustered too. "And here I thought Josie Pye was trying to be nice! I should have known she was mocking me."

"Well, there's always next time Anne." Gilbert encouraged

"There may not be time for any more fun this summer," Anne said. "I have so much shopping and sewing to do, I've got to get some new winter dresses made and put some books on order. Do you have all of your things for medical school?"

"I have everything ordered but a lot of it hasn't arrived. That's one of my things to do when we go up." Gilbert said. "Since Beechwood is not possible, with Fred and Diana staying there, I have a great aunt in Charlottetown, so maybe we can impose on her a little between our shopping. And there is one thing we must do." He said it firmly.

"No, Gil," Anne said. "I don't want you to go to the expense."

"But Anne. You have to have a ring so those Summerside fellows know you're mine. I'm not going to share."

"No," Anne said stubbornly.

"Anne. We're shopping for an engagement ring."

Anne relented once she saw Gilbert wasn't going to be persuaded. If she didn't go shopping with him, he was likely to pick out the most expensive ring in the store. "Fine, you win. But no gemstones. Can I at least have your word on that?"

"Whatever you want." Gilbert smiled but he grew quiet as he squeezed her hand. "It's the first step towards 'us'."

Anne's eyes crawled up to his. He was suddenly a bit too reflective, and his normal joking manners were put away.

"Mr. Blythe, if I didn't know better, I would say that there's something you want to tell me, but you don't know how to say it."

"I do need to talk to you about something. I've been trying these last few days." He grabbed her elbow from behind, bringing her next to him. "It's sort of different, Anne."

"What is it?"

He took Anne's hand, held it, hoping that what he had to say wouldn't go horribly wrong. Her fingers clung to his as she noticed a shakiness in his confidence. He sheepishly smiled as they found a pocket of solitude on a public road.

"I'm not teasing you on this one." Gilbert confided. "This might sound more silly than you're used to. Thankfully I know you have a big imagination and I'm going to ask for you to use every little bit of it."

"Okay, Gil?"

"I want you to close your eyes for a second, and think on…" He leaned into her just a bit, trying to make his presence overshadow hers. "Just think on, what our children will be like."

"Our children?"

Anne thought the way he said it was poetic. To be honest, all Anne had been preoccupied with were thoughts of their romance. She so enjoyed his kisses, she had to wear a small lace choker to cover the evidence of them. Anne's cheeks grew hot at the thought of the more intimate moments they'd aspire to. They had only just begun to dance, so to speak, but to get to his daydream, she had to live through hers. Anne was more than a little bit vexed as he rushed her past.

Gilbert folded her arms for the imaginary child. "Think about it for a second, how does it feel to hold our baby?"

"Well, it's wonderful of course," Anne said gasping. Then she opened her eyes—and paused in thought, deciding whether or not to share. "Gilbert, I do think we're going to have twins someday. I've always been surrounded by them, everywhere I go. I'd be so surprised if we don't."

"Twins?" Gilbert repeated in a stunned voice. Anne had knocked him off track with her most agreeable contribution. "Do you really think so?"

"Oh, I can see them now. You've given me a son, and he's the most beautiful creature ever made, except for his sister... They're…" Anne's breath caught in her throat as her imagination helped her envision them. "Gilbert, I can't wait to meet them. Our children."

"Would that feeling change if they inherited a … special ability?" Gilbert watched her eyes closely, looking for discomfort. There was no change.

"You mean like my gift for imagination?"

"No," Gilbert said. "I mean more like the gift of prophecy."

Anne laughed. "I suppose next you'll say clairvoyance and such."

"Yes, that's exactly what I mean." He stuck his hands in trouser pockets and watched the daydream slip away from Anne.

"As much I would love to believe that magic and fairies and witches were real, I know they are not."

But Gilbert persisted in testing her, he had to know. "But would you still love them, our twins. If one's a witch, the other is not. They're loved the same, right?"

"Gilbert Blythe, of course I love them," Anne said crossly, doing her best Marilla Cuthbert impression. "What kind of mother do you think I'm going to be?"

Gilbert relieved. "I'm so glad to hear you say that. It's not going to matter if they have magical powers or not. Of course, they probably won't – but they could."

"What?" Anne brought her hand to her forehead. "You're talking nonsense. I need you speak plainly now."

Gilbert breathed slowly, trying not to feel ridiculous.

"I'm a Blythe Anne. That doesn't mean anything to folks on Prince Edward Island, but back in ol' England, my ancestors were burned at the stake for witchcraft. We have all sorts of magic our bloodline, and although it's very hard to say we'd procreate another witch, you should know, in case it does happen."

"You're serious!" Anne was flabbergasted. She scrambled into the hot sunshine to sober herself giving Gilbert "Good Grief" looks all the while. But to Gilbert, Anne didn't cry or bemoan his news. She had taken it in, as extraordinary as it was, and held it, even if for one moment.

"But you believe me! That's what's important and you'll love them regardless. Dad will be pleased. He was so adamant that I tell you and not repeat his mistake."

"Oh Gilbert, I think I need to sit down," Anne pleaded. "Or loosen my corset strings, or maybe whack you on the head."

"There are no slates nearby...and I would love to loosen your corset strings, but this is unfortunately not the time or place. So let's go and rest next to this big birch tree and I'll continue my confession. For there is more you must now know, about being a Blythe.

"Anne, I love you with all my being, but I've never told anyone what I'm going to tell you." Gilbert held her hand again. He looked straight into her soul as he spoke the strangest words Anne had ever hear him utter. "My grandparents were witches and some of their abilities skipped over Dad and landed on me. I could do all sorts when I was little because you're strongest when you're young and innocent. But my Dad never prepared my mother for a child like me, and she couldn't handle it. They separated for a while because of it. She had no idea what to do with a little boy that could make tea cups levitate. But what I was really good at was healing. And thank God I was because I healed my father when he came down with consumption. After that, my powers died. But I'm still a Blythe, the legacy doesn't go away, it could still be passed down."

When Gilbert started his speech, Anne was seriously staring back into his eyes to see if any sanity was left. She knew that he was crazy for her, but typhoid fever must have addled his brains. Instead, she saw her reflection on his iris; and she felt oddly reassured and comforted. She knew he telling the truth, and he was still her Gilbert. She swallowed the whole world pressing up in her throat realizing, he could have been from the moon, and it wouldn't have mattered. She knew she belonged to him and always had.

"Anne?"

He had stopped talking, slowly waiting for her response. Anne's eyebrow squished up and furrowed accepting the history. She echoed his last words.

"Your magic died?"

"Yes but I don't care. It meant my father lived and it helped my parents reconcile. Although I am still drawn to healing people. I'm determined to be a doctor of science; because in actuality, it's a much safer and reliable medicine."

She was struggling with the news more than she wanted Gilbert to know, but she reassured him with a pat on his arm. "I always knew there was a thread of truth in fairy stories. Who else knows about this?"

Gilbert chuckled, for Anne was going to get another surprise. "My father told Miss Cuthbert when they were courting. It was the reason why she refused him. Her reaction was also the reason why he didn't tell my mother."

"Marilla Cuthbert? Oh, surely not!"

"Oh yes, indeed Anne Shirley." Gilbert's voice had lightened up, and their stroll continued. "Miss Cuthbert actually handled it better than you'd first think according to Dad, but no one else in Avonlea knows now."

They had reached Green Gables and Gilbert and Anne continued talking at the gate.

"So, do I have to go home worried?" Gilbert reached for her hand and she let him hold it.

Anne shook her head to reply. She cast her eyes to the horizon, as the sun settled in for bed. "I… don't know what I'm thinking. You have nothing left? Are you sure?"

"I haven't done anything since I came back from Alberta as a child. I swear. My powers have been blocked since."

"You couldn't even heal yourself last month? Could someone in your family had done it?"

"'There's the rub'." Gilbert quoted. "The problem is you can have all this power, but you can't use it selfishly. You can't heal yourself, and you're not supposed to heal your family, there are consequences. The truth is nobody can figure out how I healed my father, but I'm sure that's the reason why I lost my powers." He picked up her hand and kissed it. "The owner of this hand did more just by loving me from afar."

**to be continued**