I have always thought Gilbert's first proposal was way too vague, but I suppose that's the beauty of it—it did make me cry, which doesn't happen all the often.
So I decided to write my version of it, from Gilbert's POV. I hope it shows how Gilbert is so smitten with Anne…and then all his hopes go crashing down. Not trying to sound so cheesy, though.
And I am not L M Montgomery. She's sort of dead, and besides, I hardly am that good of a writer.
As a afterthought, when I was reading the series, Gilbert had always been 'Gil' to me, and consequently, now to Anne in this. And now I will stop babbling.
Gilbert Blythe, contrary to popular opinion, had not been out in search of Anne Shirley that one day in April. Well, at least, not admittedly; there was always some unconscious inclination towards Anne in Gilbert. It was not that surprising, considering most days she was in his thoughts more than his studies.
But when Gilbert spied that unmistakable red hair from across the orchard, he was struck with the sudden urge to see her smile. And thus within a few moments Gilbert's arms were full of sweet pink blossoms.
She was sitting on a boulder, looking wistfully out into the scenery, there in the park, but miles away. Gilbert saw the frown as her eyes landed on him, but he ignored it. Anyone would be a slight displeasure to see to Anne, if they had interrupted her musings. At least, that's what he told himself.
He offered his flowers to Anne. "Don't they remind you of our old schoolday picnics, Anne?" Gilbert began only a trifle awkwardly. Talking to Anne was always somewhat of an adventure; one minute she could be laughing with you, and the next, glaring at you icily only because of a few rash words. Gilbert had tried to navigate himself into her good opinion…sometimes he would think she really cared for him…and other times he would feel awful if she merely glanced at him with some displeasure.
"-Sloane's barrens this very minute." Anne had been saying. Gilbert glanced sideways at her profile. She had her head dipped into the flowers, smiling, as she smelt their scent. Lovely. Perfectly lovely.
"I suppose you will be there in reality in a few days?" He said.
"No," she said, lifting her head up from the flowers, "not for a fortnight; I am visiting Phil in Boilingbroke before I return home." And played absently with a petal. "You'll be in Avonlea before I will."
A twang of guilt overcame Gilbert. "No, I will not be in Avonlea at all for the summer. I've been offered a job in the Daily News office and I'm going to take it." He did feel sorry about not seeing Anne at all during the summer, but he needed the money. College did not exactly pay for itself.
"Oh." Anne said, and Gilbert couldn't help but think 'How eloquent'. "Well, I suppose that's good for you." She finished. "Of course," Anne added as an afterthought.
Gilbert vaguely remembered saying something about how he had hoped to get it—that it would help him next year. He was staring at Anne, wondering, wondering if he dared to.
"You mustn't work too hard." Gilbert wondered if that sentence meant she had some regard for him…no, he mustn't look too much into her words. Anne suddenly brightened, a bit too brightly, and perhaps not absolutely sincere. "I found some white violets under that old twisted tree over there. Let me call Phil and then we—"
He had to know. Now. This had gone on far to long, and he wanted to be sure. "Never mind Phil and the violets just now." Gilbert's voice was quiet but determined. "I have something to say to you." He took her hand.
"Oh! Don't say it!" Anne looked up at him; her expression so pleading Gilbert hardly had the courage to continue. "Don't. Please, Gil." No, he wasn't going to play Anne's game any longer.
"I must. Things can't go on like this any longer." He looked at her. "I love you, Anne. I…I can't tell you how much I do. Will…Will you promise to me that some day you'll be my wife?" There. It was out.
Anne had once again lowered her eyes to the flowers, blushing softly. "I…I can't. Oh Gil, I just can't. You've spoiled everything now, Gil." Her eyes had never left the flowers.
Spoiled what? Was it his fault he was not the romantic tall, dark, and handsome man Anne so desperately wanted? Gil felt like saying something related to how she lived in her own imaginary world—when a sudden reality kicked in. She had refused him. She was lost now—Anne, not to be his. He had never truly counted on her saying yes, but had hoped. His hopes had been based on those few moments when she had smiled at him, in such a way that made Gilbert feel she really cared as much as he did. But she had refused him…why?
"You don't care for me at all, then?" He said, his voiced deathly grave.
"No, n-not in that way." She sighed. "I care for you a great deal Gil—as a friend." A pause. "But I don't love you, Gil."
No. I couldn't be. All his nightmares—coming true. "But can you give me some hope—any hope—that you will, yet?"
"No! I can never love you, Gil. We mustn't speak of this again!" Anne sounded almost desperate that the conversation should come to an end. Was she afraid…maybe afraid that someone would find out? Another beau!
"Is there anybody else?" He asked, his voice low.
"No! I like you better than anybody else, Gil, but we must only be friends!" Friends! That wouldn't satisfy him at all. He wanted her love. But he couldn't have that—no, Anne didn't want his love, he'd just ruin the picture. "I'm sorry, Gil. Forgive me?" Anne looked up at him, her big, gray serene eyes pleading him to forgive her.
It was at the moment, to use a phrase that no doubt has been used by many, but true nonetheless, that Gilbert's heart shattered into a million pieces.
"There isn't anything to forgive" He released her hand. "I have just deceived myself." He said simply, though even he could hear the pain in his voice. Gilbert looked into her eyes into her eyes again, and he knew he couldn't bear to be near her again. "Good-bye Anne." And he left her there.
Never had those words meant so much to him. Because it was goodbye—he was going to see her again, of course. But now, he could never have her.
Gilbert had once scraped all the skin off his knee once when he was eight, and he had prided himself on not shedding a single tear.
Of course, a broke heart is a much more serious injury than a scraped knee.