It's probably worth mentioning that I write these as I think of them, so abandon expectations of chronological order, all ye who continue to read.
It's a full moon tonight, over Ingleside. Well - it's a full moon everywhere else as well, Walter knows, but everything looks sweeter and more lovely from one's homestead. It would look exceptionally beautiful over Rainbow Valley, but Dr. Blythe has deemed Walter too weak from the typhoid to go out that far yet. Sitting out on the veranda after sunset is Walter's small - and only - rebellion against his orders to stay inside.
"Come in if the wind starts to blow," was all Gilbert had said upon finding Walter sitting - somewhat moodily, it must be admitted - on the veranda swing after supper that night.
It's incredibly frustrating. Even Rilla has more freedom than he does. Admittedly, he can write poetry from his bed just as well as he can in Rainbow Valley, but it doesn't change the trapped, useless feeling he has. At this rate, he'll be going to Redmond with Shirley.
He tips his head back to look at the moon, glowing bright in a sea of stars. Inside, he can hear Susan attempting to teach Rilla how to effectively clean the dishes. Mother has gone off to read and Dad to tend to some emergency or another.
More than being bored and frustrated, Walter is lonely. Jem, Jerry, Ken, and Faith are all off at Redmond, Shirley and Carl at Queen's, and Nan and Di at their respective schools. Walter feels the absence of Di - his favorite sister and confidant - most keenly. He loves Rilla, of course, but she is thirteen, and her idea of stimulating conversation generally involves gossiping about the many people she dislikes (or, as Walter has discerned, feels threatened by).
"Oh," comes a soft voice. "Hello, Walter."
Walter lowers his gaze to see Una Meredith standing at the porch steps, basket in hand. She gives him a small smile but doesn't move, as if she needs permission to walk to the door. But then, she probably does. Una doesn't do anything she's not sure she's allowed to.
"Una," he says. "It's good to see you. Late visit?"
She ducks her head. "I finished cutting out Rilla's dress. I thought I would bring it over."
Walter smiles. "You really should make her do it herself. My sister lacks a work ethic."
Una smiles, too - or what the Blythe and Meredith youngsters have learned to read as a smile from her. In reality, it is merely a slight quirk at the corner of her mouth. Walter wonders what a real, full smile would look like on her. He wonders if there's anything that could coax such an expression from this serious, sorrowful girl.
"Perhaps," she says. "But I have to take care of Bruce and won't be able to give it to her tomorrow, you see. If I give it to her now, she won't have an excuse to put sewing it off."
Walter feels his smile grow. "Ah. That's rather manipulative of you, Miss Meredith."
She hesitates, then walks up the steps to stand across from him, clutching the basket in front of her like a shield. "What are you doing out here? I thought…I heard you weren't well."
Walter nods. Of course the Merediths had been told of his illness. In honesty, Walter had thought mostly of Faith - wondering if she was worried for him, if she cared. He'd had a horrible, delusional dream that she had confessed her love to him at his sickbed, and then awoke feeling foolish and guilty.
He shakes away the memory, turning his attention back to Una. "I'm getting better," he says. "Unfortunately, I still can't leave Ingleside." He half-smiles. "There was an argument about whether or not I was allowed to sit out here at all."
"I'm glad you're getting well," Una says softly.
"Thank you," Walter says. Remembering the first part of her question, he adds, "I came out to see the full moon."
"It is nice," Una offers. "It did seem brighter than usual outside."
"Do you suppose," Walter asks, ignoring her rather unimaginative response, "the moon is a woman or a man? At times, it seems rather feminine - so pale and gentle in the sky. And yet, don't they say there is a man in the moon, destined to circle the Earth for his transgressions?"
"The moon is female in French and Italian," Una says thoughtfully. "But masculine in German."
Walter turns to look at her. "I didn't realize you were studying languages."
"Oh, no," Una says, blushing. "I only - people are always giving Father books he doesn't read - and he doesn't speak anything but English, anyway - and with everyone away…" She looks down. "There isn't much else to do."
"Ah," Walter says, feeling a strange pang in his chest. He should spend more time with her, he decides. Una has always been a bit lost in the shuffle, because of her quiet nature. And he knows sweet but thoughtless Rilla certainly isn't worrying about Una, alone in the manse without a friend her own age.
"But it's nothing at all in English, isn't it?" he hurries on before the silence can turn strange. "It seems a shame that we see the moon as a mere object. And only a few of us will ever wonder if it is feminine or masculine - does it look down at us as a mother or a father? How nice it must be to look at the moon and know that your fellow countrymen see it the same way you do."
"I don't know," Una murmurs. "Perhaps it's a good thing. There are no - preconceptions. You can see it as it suits you." She doesn't meet his gaze - in fact, she looks a bit embarrassed. Walter suddenly remembers how loath Una has always been to participate in thoughtful discussions with them - feeling out of her depth among the Queen's and Redmond crowd.
"I didn't think of that," he says, honestly. "Perhaps some nights it rises as a woman and some nights as a man."
"Perhaps," Una says. He can feel her withdrawing, and indeed, she turns away. "I should give this to Rilla before it gets too late. Soon not even the full moon will be enough light."
"Of course," Walter says. Impulsively, he reaches out and catches her hand. In the moonlight, he can see all the color drain out of her already pale face. For a moment, he wonders - surely most girls blush when their hands are held? But then the thought is gone.
"You should visit more often," he says. "We - all of us - feel a bit lonely, with everyone else away. Mother would love to see you. And," he adds, "so would I."
This time Una does blush, gently withdrawing her hand. "I will."
Watching her walk into the house, Walter feels the heavy loneliness and frustration lighten, just slightly. He leans back and tries to decide whether the moon seems more feminine or masculine tonight. Perhaps tomorrow, he'll convince Dad that he's well enough to amble to the manse, and he'll tell Una what he's decided. Perhaps he can coax her into an academic discussion and she'll show him some of her father's books. He might even bring Rilla along, to placate Mother's fear that her youngest daughter is letting her brain atrophy.
The wind begins to blow and Walter stands up and goes back inside.
(Yes, yes, I know, czech out my amazing original title skills.)