Book: Anne Of Avonlea
Summary: Scientific Gilbert is intent on uncovering nature's very secrets Anne wants hidden and shrouded in delightful mystery.
"Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive - it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there? But am I talking too much? People are always telling me I do. Would you rather I didn't talk? If you say so I'll stop. I can STOP when I make up my mind to it, although it's difficult."
The wind stole the scent of the sweet narcissus in the maiden's auburn hair as she walked home through the field. Another wonderful day of teaching most peculiar and adorable children, she smiled, amused. Especially when poor Paul was "picked" to become little Lottie's beau! What an uproar the scandal had caused – the girls giggled and the boys jeered; Lottie preened, and Paul looked as though he would gladly break his slate over Lottie's head after the legend of school scandals past if he weren't brought up to be a "genplum." Anne, now free from any presence which required her to act schoolmarmish, laughed merrily at the recollection of Paul's red face, sure she must have looked the same when she stood up to "insolent" and "just plain rude" Gilbert Blythe.
"Share the joke?" A voice spoke behind her, and Anne turned around with a start.
"Gilbert – I didn't hear you coming at all!"
The tall, brown boy chuckled. "You must have been swimming deep in the ocean of your dreams, Anne. I've been behind you for about half a minute."
"Half a minute?"
"Well, yes. I was catching up with you. Back from school?"
"Yes. Oh, Gilbert, what an eventful day we had!" And Anne told him all about Lottie, Paul, and other occurrences which included Joseph's latest showdown with Anthony Pye (who wouldcall him St. Clair in spite of all of Anne's gentle admonishments in private), another one of Barbara's disastrous blunders which this time had cost the schoolhouse its door, and the three Cottons, who called in sick and then showed up in the middle of school, claiming that they "missed Teacher."
When Anne had finished, she sighed rapturously. "Do you know, Gil, that although teaching school could drive me quite to the depths of despair sometimes" – a chuckle from Gilbert – "after today I feel as if I could go on doing it forever and ever."
"But there would be no bend in the road," Gilbert noted.
"That's so," Anne murmured dejectedly. She was not prepared to sacrifice the precious road bends in life just yet, no matter how delightful school teaching made itself to be.
"Do you remember last week, Anne? When I sat on your door step and talked 'high and mighty' ambition with you?" Gilbert's voice was quiet and serious.
"Are you still thinking about it?"
"I am. Anne, the world has so much to offer! I make a decision, or I think I do, only to walk out the door and be slapped in the face by something equally alluring and interesting."
"I suppose you'll have to choose a profession and stick to it soon."
"Well, I have always loved medical science, so I think that my first decision – to become a doctor – comes out top. I've chosen, in a way." But his young, boyish voice held a wistful tone.
"And yet those rejected still call your name in voices so clear and sweet," Anne murmured half to herself, wondering if she should pursue the life calling of a poet.
"Something like that - you're reminding me of the Sirens, actually. Only these voices are voices of justice, beauty, and the pursuit of furthering science."
If Anne had smiled, she hid it away remarkably well. Her thoughts were, "What Gilbert-like ambitions and dreams these are!" Aloud she said, "Won't your medical degree help you to further science eventually, what with the experiments and risks you shall have to take on the operating table?"
"Of course. But there is much more to science than the human body. What about finding out how and why the sea has waves? Wait – do we know that already? Well then, what about a means of communicating long-distance without the use of a telegraph? Or! Or maybe even, what about discovering why the sky is blue?"
"Gilbert! I don't want to know why the sky is blue," Anne exclaimed in horror.
Gilbert frowned. "Why not?"
"Wouldn't it be perfectly wonderful if one never knew the way things worked, so that they could make up things about it forever?"
Gilbert was quiet.
"Knowing things wouldn't be much fun," Anne sighed. "The facts are always brutally scientific. Imagine! One day our textbooks will reveal the secret to the cool azure blue of the sky above... and the answer will never be the paintbrush of an artistic fairy. Oh, Gilbert, don't."
"Will you keep the world from progress, Anne, just for the sake of imagination?" Gilbert asked quietly.
"I won't; not forever," Anne lifted her chin. "Perhaps after my funeral service and burial you may begin."
Gilbert looked at the girl beside him, starry eyed and red head flung back determinedly. In spite of himself he smiled a little, and said, "That's a job for someone else. I'm studying medicine."
Anne breathed a sigh of relief. "That's better. The whole thing wouldn't be so bad if someone else discovered why the sky is blue, but I would never forgive you if it were you, Gil."
Gilbert found no words to say, so he stuck his hands in his pockets and began to whistle. To think she had a hold on him so early in his precious youth! Now a fellow could never do a thing he wanted without wondering if she'd approve. Funny thing was that he was alright with that...
The two continued forging their path through the field in comfortable, companionable silence.