New Poll! And goodbye until February 7th, which is when I will be publishing the third story, The Lightest Heart. Meanwhile, I hope you will read A Dreadful Collection of Memoranda, the story of another famous literary boy, who after all was in circumstances much worse than Gilbert's...
Chapter Twenty: The Most Romantic Place In the World
The only thing that haunts me is the tale of the two who lived together for fifty years and hated each other all that time. I can't believe they really did. Somebody has said that "hate is only love that has missed its way." I feel sure that under the hatred they really loved each other…just as I really loved you all those years I thought I hated you…and I think death would show it to them. I'm glad I found out in life.
-L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars
In fact as well as in fiction,
In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love,
but not too lightly, for the spring is when an epidemic of love and courtship breaks out in society, manifested in fits and bursts and spasms of engagements and marriages.
On the first of March—the first day, since a bemused Doctor Spencer had explained to Gilbert's even more amazed parents, that he had rallied and was on the mend, that he had been let out of the house!—on this first day, then, of March and of freedom, Gilbert strolled down the lane to Green Gables, and came upon a startled Anne, who was sitting on the porch step with her lap full of flowing green fabric.
"I've come to ask you for one of our old-time rambles through 'September woods' and 'over hills where spices grow'," he said calmly. "Supposing we visit Hester Gray's garden?"
For a brief, transient moment he thought that Anne's face had been lit up by a wild joy—but the next second her expression was unreadable as she said, "Oh, I wish I could, but I really can't, Gilbert. I'm going to Alice Penhallow's wedding this evening, you know. I've got to do something to this dress, and by the time it's finished I'll have to get ready. I'm so sorry. I'd love to go."
Gilbert schooled his face also to betray no sign of his reaction to her answer. "Well, can you go tomorrow afternoon, then?"
"Yes," haltingly, "I think so."
"In that case I shall hie me home at once to do something I should otherwise have to do tomorrow." Oh, if she only knew! "So! Alice Penhallow is to be married tonight? Three weddings for you in six months, Anne—Philippa's, Alice's, and Jane's."
Anne and Gilbert neither of them knew that Romney and Lucinda Penhallow would reconcile that night, swelling the list of victims…and all because Anne would be mistaken for Lucinda.
"I'll never forgive Jane for not inviting me to her wedding."
"You were ill, though." There was something strange in Anne's tone; Gilbert glanced up, but her face was averted as she continued, "And, besides, you really can't blame her when you think of the tremendous Andrews connection who had to be invited!" Anne chuckled. "The house could hardly hold them all. I was only bidden by grace of being Jane's old chum—at least on Jane's part. I think Mrs. Harmon's motive for inviting me was to let me see Jane's surpassing gorgeousness!"
"Is it true that she wore so many diamonds that you couldn't tell where the diamonds left off and Jane began?" Gilbert laughed, too, as he referred to Diana Barry's—Wright's—words to his mother a few days before.
"She certainly wore a good many. What with all the diamonds and white satin and tulle and lace and roses and orange blossoms, prim little Jane was almost lost to sight. But she was very happy, and so was Mr. Inglis—and so was Mrs. Harmon!"
"Is that the dress you're going to wear tonight, then?" casting a deceptively casual glance at the pretty, frothy mass of green in Anne's lap.
"Yes; isn't it pretty?" asked Anne, unconscious of his scrutiny. "And I shall wear starflowers in my hair."
She probably heard his intake of breath—he was thinking of how beautiful she would look; but by the time Anne would have looked up Gilbert's back was turned and he was heading out the gate. "Well, I'll be up tomorrow, then. I hope you have a nice night."
Gilbert walked home, got the buggy, and drove to Charlottetown, where he carried out "something he should otherwise have to do tomorrow"; never mind what it was just yet, but there was a suspicious small boxy package secreted safely in his bedside-table drawer the next day as he and Anne walked into Hester Gray's garden.
Once again she was wearing green—not the dress from the wedding, but the green dress he'd complimented Anne on at that Redmond ball, the night Gilbert had seen Royal Gardner for the first time—a night which he shut from his mind. Gardner was over and done with now.
"I brought you my book," Anne said, holding a real book out to him: marble-edged pages and embossed leather cover!
"Avonlea Vignettes, by Anne Shirley!" Gilbert read in surprise. He remembered now; Philippa had said something about Anne writing.
"I've been published, Gil. I wrote about Avonlea. Just as you said I should, 'without any high-faluting mumbo-jumbo'. And, and I dedicated the inscription to Marilla, and to Matthew…" she trailed off as he opened to the deication leaf. "And to you."
"'To Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, for their unfailing love and support, and…and to Gilbert, who inspired me with the idea in the first place'." Gilbert grinned. "I told you this coud be a success!"
"Well, it's not a success, or not yet. It's not a classic or a romance, or anything important, but it's mine. It's all mine, and it's a dream come true! I think," Anne was saying dreamily, "that 'the land where dreams come true' is in the blue haze yonder, over that little valley."
"Have you any unfulfilled dreams, Anne?" asked Gilbert in a low voice.
Anne blushed and glanced away—anywhere—other than Gilbert's eyes, he noticed with a happy quiver in his stomach.
"Of course. Everybody has," she prevaricated. "It wouldn't do for us to have all our dreams fulfilled. We would be as good as dead if we had nothing left to dream about!
"What a delicious aroma that low-descending sun is extracting from the asters and ferns," Anne changed subject suddenly.
And Gilbert almost gave up. He was panicked. She'd tried to change the subject last time. Oh, dear. But there was the little package in his drawer—no. Even if her answer were the same, Gilbert needed to have things out, now.
Anne was still chattering. "I wish we could see perfumes as well as smell them. I'm sure they would be very beautiful—"
"Anne." His voice was still low, and Gilbert's eyes caught hers and locked. "I have a dream," he began, anxiously, "and I persist in dreaming it, although it has often seemed to me that it could never come true. I dream of a home with a hearth-fire in it, a cat and dog, the footsteps of friends…and you!
"I asked you a question over two years ago, Anne. If I ask it again today will you give me a different answer?"
The expression on Anne's face—as if she were a lantern which someone had just lit—was answer enough—and Anne flung her arms around his neck, burying her face in his coat. He sighed happily, his own arms encircling her waist, as they were always supposed to be.
"I thought you loved Christine Stuart," came a muffled reproach, at length, from somewhere near Gilbert's lapel.
"As though you didn't give me any reason to think you loved Gardner, you goose!" Gilbert chuckled, inducing Anne to emerge again. "Christine was engaged to somebody in her home town. I knew it, and she knew I knew it. Her brother was a chum of mine at Queen's—remember Roger Stuart?—and just before I proposed to you the first time, he wrote me that his sister was coming to Kingsport the next spring to take music, and asked me if I would look after her a bit, as she knew no one and would be very lonely. So I did. And then I liked Christine for her own sake. She is one of the…" he cast about for a suitable word "…most interesting girls I've ever known.
"I knew college gossip credited us with being in love with each other. I didn't care," he laughed ruefully. "Nothing mattered much to me for a time, after you told me you could never love me, Anne. There was nobody else—there never could be anybody else for me but you. I've loved you ever since that day you broke your slate over my head in school!"
Anne laughed aloud at that memory. "I don't see how you could keep on loving me—when I was such a little fool!"
"Well, I tried to stop," Gilbert reassured her; then, when Anne raised an eyebrow, "not because I thought you what you call yourself, but because I felt sure there was no chance for me after Gardner came on the scene. But I couldn't. And I can't tell you, either, what it's meant to me, these two years—to believe you were going to marry him—and be told every week by some busybody that your engagement was on the point of being announced!
"I believed it until one blessed day when I was still sick, and Philippa, apparently, sneaked out of Green Gables—"
"Yes, I know what you're thinking—and she gave me a scolding for being nonsensical, during which she told me there was really nothing between you and Roy, and advised me to 'try again.' Well, Doctor Spencer was amazed at my rapid recovery after that!"
Anne snuggled up to Gilbert. "I can never forget the night I thought you were dying, Gilbert! Oh, I knew—I knew then! And I thought it was too late!"
"But it wasn't, darling," said Gilbert happily, "and, oh Anne, this makes up for everything, doesn't it? Let's resolve to keep this day sacred to perfect beauty all our lives for the gift it has given us."
"It's the birthday of our happiness. How I have always loved this old garden of Hester Gray's! and now it will be dearer than ever!"
"But I'll have to ask you to wait a while," said Gilbert, becoming sober, and taking his beloved by the shoulders. "It's another year until I finish that medical course, and I'll need to find work to start with so I can support us. And even then, there'll be no 'diamond sunbursts and marble halls'…"
"I don't want sunbursts and marble halls," Anne shushed him. "I just want you. You see I'm quite as shameless as Phil about it! Sunbursts and marble halls may be all very well, but there is more scope for imagination without them. And as for the waiting, that doesn't matter. We'll just be happy, waiting and working for each other, and dreaming. Oh, dreams will be very sweet now." Anne smiled up at him, beautifully.
And Gilbert became suddenly aware that he was still holding Anne by the shoulders, although not so far away as arm-length. If he leaned forward just a little bit more…
Boys spend time imagining their first kiss as well as girls; and later, when they had time to reflect upon it, Anne and Gilbert would have agreed that, at a select few times, imagination was nothing to reality.
END OF PART II
FanFictionNet presents an L.M. Montgomery fanfiction
I'll show you wealth
You've never seen:
The sun and moon and shadows;
The rainbow's arch, the mountain stream,
The sunless clouds,
And the winter's dream…
I'll play you sounds
You've never heard:
The waterfall, the willow;
The thunder of the hummingbird,
The whisper of the snow…
Story by Morte Rouge
What if you never know
How much you cared
Till you are parted
By a stormy sea?
and based upon Lucy Maud Montgomery's novel Anne of the Island (1915)
How could I let you go?
How could I bear
My life without you
in conjunction with
The world's a door that's open wide
Because you're here beside me
And with the moon and sun to guide me,
Kevin Sullivan's movie adaptation "Anne of Green Gables: the Sequel" (1987)
Now our hearts
Now our hearts
Can be free…
Credit Song: "Here Beside Me" by Hayley Westenra