Disclaimer: I own whomever you don't recognize. L M Montgomery owns the rest. Sigh.
And Anne had prevailed on Mrs. Campbell to let little Elizabeth go home with her for a fortnight . . . no more. But Elizabeth, looking forward to two whole weeks with Miss Shirley, asked no more of life.
…the world was beautiful, with wind-rippled meadows on every hand and surprises lurking around every corner. She was with her beloved Miss Shirley; she would be free from the Woman for two whole weeks; she had a new pink gingham dress and a pair of lovely new brown boots. It was almost as if Tomorrow were already there . . . with fourteen Tomorrows to follow.
On the third day of little Elizabeth's visit, Anne decided to go up to Echo Lodge. The Irvings were not coming back to the Island that summer, but Anne felt that it would be lovely to see if the echoes were as enchanting and fairy-like as memory painted them out to be, "…and they do seem so like real people, so wouldn't they be lonely if no one went to visit them all year? Besides, I've told little Elizabeth all about the echoes, and it would be cruel not to introduce her to them, now", she reasoned with Marilla.
Little Elizabeth had woken up that morning with a spring in her step and a heart racing in anticipation. Two days at Green Gables had already put the "rose-blush of brim-full happiness" into her small cheeks and a sparkle of excitement in her generally-wistful large eyes. "I cannot really decide who I am today, Miss Shirley," she confided to Anne over breakfast. "I'm so excited about the echoes that I feel I can't wait even for another minute, and don't even care about eating – though this is a lovely breakfast", assuring Marilla,"and I always feel that way when I am Betty. But when I actually imagine the echoes, I feel like I am Elizabeth, Miss Shirley. I have never heard a proper echo, you see, and I think it is very important that I know what one is like – what if I met one in Tomorrow and never recognized it?" She sighed over her currant bun, and Anne suppressed a smile at this funny case of identity crisis, and fervently hoped that the weather would be "just right" for echoes, for her sake.
The little brown pony was hitched to the buggy and the two girls, "young and old alike" awash in hopes of a golden day ahead, waved goodbye to the inhabitants of Green Gables and set forth. The summer morning was tinted with all the interesting hues which the brightest of sunlight could infuse the day with, and Anne and Elizabeth spent the drive to middle Grafton blissfully soaking in the sight of all the wild fresh blooms that had sprung up –"unbidden and unencouraged"- by the side of the small country roads.
When they reached the side lane leading to Echo Lodge, Anne untethered the pony and let it free to graze, while little Elizabeth stared about at the majestic cathedral-like canopy of firs in round-eyed awe.
'Do you suppose this is how the entrance to fairyland would look like, Miss Shirley?' she asked Anne, in a hushed voice.
'Maybe,' said Anne dreamily. 'And who knows, perhaps this IS a secret entrance to fairyland – a portal used by those little folk when we mortals are traipsing around in the world of dreams… I know I always expect an array of trumpeters to appear here and herald me through-'
They froze. For a moment it seemed like they were being welcomed by a horde of invisible minions of the fairy lords, for the hushed silence under the trees was suddenly dispelled by a profusion of notes so sweet that they almost seemed otherworldly – a chorus of angels. For a moment, both believed that the next turn in the path would contain the fairy folk busy in their revels, ('I was almost afraid to move forward for fear that I would disturb them, and they would flee before we could get 'acquainted'.' confessed Anne to Diana later), but then they realized that the harmonious melody flowing around them was the sound of someone singing to the accompaniment of the echoes.
A bend in the little path brought them before Miss Lavender's small storybook-like house, and the singer was revealed to be a girl sitting on the stone bench at the top of the garden. Another girl sat before the porch steps on a chair, working away at an easel, but Anne found that she could not spare her much attention; the rich voice that surrounded them, embellished by the reflected echoes over the woods, entranced her completely. She could not afterwards quite recollect the words of the song which was sung; just that it seemed to begin with the airy, trilling innocence of happy and carefree childhood; which crested into the wonderful, wholehearted, earnest passion of youth, and then, at last, slowly softened into the wistful strains of aged wisdom. It was a song that seemed to take you into another realm altogether; the silver voice leading and guiding you into meandering along remembrances of shared laughter, sighing over lost memories and hopes and choking up with unshed tears at forgotten pain, regrets and disappointments.
As the voice faded away with the last words of the song, the hundreds of bell-like reflections sung their goodbyes, and the girl painting by the porch looked up. She finally noticed them.
The girl on the bench, who had sung the whole with her eyes closed to the enchanting view of the garden in front, and had stayed in the same attitude even after, turned at this, and Anne caught her breath.
She was a young woman, of perhaps her own age, with masses of silky hair of "midnight- black shine" and skin of a "clear ivory pallor". Her eyes, as the girls found on closer observation, were of a rare hue that could only be compared to the purple colour of amethysts. 'Have you ever met an idea in real life?' wrote Anne to Gilbert later. 'Here was the very Lady Cordelia of my childhood fancies – and I am sure I would've felt horribly envious of her, Gilbert dear, except that her voice made you feel like life was too small for such petty emotions, and her eyes haunted you so with their expression of long-endured suffering, though she hid it under a smile.'
Little Elizabeth, likewise, seemed to have been bewitched by this splendid demonstration of the magnificence of echoes, for she blurted out, 'Are you a fairy?'
She smiled, and the other girl, who had come forward, laughed aloud. She was a younger version of the owner of the melodious voice, with the same dark hair, fair skin and unusual eyes, but which twinkled out at the world in bubbly joy.
'No, Flora isn't a fairy, though she does seem to spin magic with music, doesn't she?' she said, grinning. She held out her hand to Anne. 'Did you come to meet the Irvings? They've rented out Echo Lodge to us for a few weeks this summer, since they weren't planning to come down.'
Anne shook herself out of the daze that the music had led her into, and shook the proffered hand. 'Oh, no – I knew that the Irvings weren't coming down to the Island this summer – we just came over to say hello to the echoes. I am Anne Shirley, and this is Miss Elizabeth Grayson.'
A glow of delight lighting up her face, the girl clapped her hands. 'Oh, you're the Anne we have heard so much about! Isn't this the best thing ever, Flora?' she paused to address her sister, and turned to Anne again, speaking in a manner that was as impulsive as it was endearing. 'Mrs Irving and Paul have spoken so much of you that we feel like we've known you for years, Miss Shirley! I am sure we're going to be great friends – you do have that look of those who form friendships easily and well. Can I call you Anne? Oh, how stupid I am… I haven't even introduced ourselves yet, have I? I am Fauna, and this my elder sister Flora Montaigne.'
Her sister, who had remained silent so far, (as indeed, most people who were around Fauna were forced to be, most often.) chuckled at Anne's expression. 'Do let Miss Shirley decide if she wants to accept your offer of friendship, Fauna – she may well decide that we are a pair of lunatics not fit to be associated with.'
Anne laughed. 'Oh, please do call me Anne. I would never refuse such a charming offer, but – are you really called Flora and Fauna? It… well, it seems quite incredible-'
Flora chuckled. 'No, you're being polite - it sounds like a joke, and that was what it started out as, initially. You see, I was named Henrietta Flora after our father's parents, and my madcap sister here was named Geraldine Jane after our mother's. I was called Flora by one and all, and she was just Baby, but when she reached the mature age of five, she took objection to being called either Geraldine or Jane, and demanded my name. I took offence naturally, and our father, to avert war, convinced her that 'Fauna' was an equally special name (he had an irrepressible sense of humour) and it stuck.'
Fauna grimaced at her in mock-indignation, and over the next two hours of lively conversation - while little Elizabeth sat on the stone bench and investigated the different bell-like sounds that were reflected back from the river far below the garden, gleefully skipped in a one-man game of hopscotch, and hummed a song of her own making while she gathered a bunch of asters – Anne learnt that the two sisters, though they squabbled and pulled each other's leg at every turn, still shared a very warm love, having been orphaned when quite young. The nineteen-year-old Fauna was of a sunny nature, earnest and "true", and inclined to be very chatty, while Flora was a silently smiling presence, with a quiet sense of humour, and the dreamy, calm look of artists everywhere, who have the power to create their own new worlds of wonder, and lead others thereto.
'Can we come back again?' asked Elizabeth pleadingly, when Anne got up to leave.
'Oh, please, please do come visit again, Anne!' said Fauna equally pleadingly. 'We're here only for a week more, and then we must return to Boston for-' she stopped suddenly, glancing at her sister, and continued, leaving that last sentence unfinished, '- though Mrs Irving's praise of Echo Lodge doesn't do it credit, it'd be splendid to have some more company. The echoes are lovely – but… they make one feel a little lonesome too, don't you think?'
'Echo is a nymph who lives in hills and valleys and wide open spaces, and vainly tries to call out to her beloved Narcissus through our voices,' said Anne whimsically.
'I think echoes are naughty fairies that make fun of us by copying us.' said Elizabeth.
'Perhaps echoes are our future selves warning us not to make the mistakes we do.' said Flora, barely audibly.
There is a soul who has known great sorrow, thought Anne.
'I haven't heard of any Montaignes who live hereabouts on the Island,' said Marilla later, when Anne had described the sisters to her. 'They must be from the mainland – and I haven't heard of any Henrietta Montaigne who sings, unless she is somehow related to Helena Montaigne – you know, that singer who has become so famous all over the States – such talent usually runs in families, I've heard. Don't tell Rachel about them – she'll have it that associating with any Yankee is equivalent to fraternizing with the Devil himself.'
A few days later, Anne took little Elizabeth along to pay the Montaigne sisters a visit. The summer morning was scented with the delightful perfumes of freshly-bloomed chrysanthemums and jasmine and lilies, underlaid by the smell of the aptly-named sweetgrass that grew everywhere, and the sun shone merrily through harmless, wispy cirrus clouds. The weather at Echo Lodge seemed to be metaphorically grey, however, for Anne and Elizabeth found Fauna sitting on the steps of the house, with her head down and hands wrapped around knees, sobbing bitterly.
Alarmed, Anne turned quickly to Elizabeth, whose large eyes looked like they might fill over with tears in sympathy, and said softly, 'Will you go and pluck a bouquet of the starflowers that grow beside those trees, down in the garden, sweetheart? I have to talk to Miss Montaigne.' Little Elizabeth nodded and complied, still wide-eyed with apprehension, and Anne went over to Fauna, who hadn't noticed their arrival.
Anne put a hand on her bent head. 'Fauna dear, what is it? Is Flora well? Where is she?'
Fauna looked up wildly at her words, and wiping her streaming eyes hurriedly, said 'I didn't expect you today, Anne. Flora has gone to the village –'. She was still visibly upset, her voice tremulous and lips trembling with the effort to compose herself.
Anne took her hand in hers gently. 'What happened? Is everything all right? Is there anything I can do to help?'
Fauna looked at her sympathetic face and broke down again. 'Oh Anne, everything is so completely, hopelessly wrong! And it's all entirely my fault!'
Slowly, through broken sentences and tearful phrases, Anne learnt of the shadow that had touched the lives of the sisters the previous year. The then-twenty-four year-old Flora had fallen in love and become engaged to marry one Peter Redford, who, according to Fauna was a "real brick", and as deeply in love with Flora as she was with him.
"But he had a really short temper – and though you may not have thought it from seeing Flora the other day, she has a temper that is terrible when aroused. They'd have small tiffs and get over them, but just when everything was going smoothly, and there were only a few weeks to the wedding – they had a huge fight – and Peter left Boston suddenly - to visit a friend, he said, but I don't know if he was planning to come back or not. They went on a sailing trip, and… and his boat was lost in a storm." She half-hiccupped, half-sobbed, "Flora… Flora hasn't been the same ever since… I'm sure they would have made it up when he came back – both their tempers were short, but passed as quickly as they came – if it weren't for - and it's – it's all my fault! Peter used to tease me all the time – the way elder brothers pull one's leg, you know – but I wasn't used to that sort of raillery and I got so annoyed that I complained to Flora – she was in one of her bad moods, and they fought over it -one angry word led to another, till he stormed out in a rage, and she – she went and played the most tempestuous rendition of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony that I've ever heard on the piano..'
She paused, looking away at the hills that rose in the far distance. 'She has steadily become more withdrawn since that time – she still won't talk of Peter – and I forced her to come over to the Island, thinking that a change of scenery would help. But she's still as aloof as ever – I haven't seen her shed a single tear since we got the news that the boat was lost – it's as though she's keeping all that grief locked up inside – and it's slowly draining her health.'
Her words rushed out in tearful, jerky gasps. 'I am so worried about her! She has been everything to me ever since our parents died – and this spring, I met Ethan Stafford, and he – he says he loves me, and I think… I know I love him, too. But how can I think of a life with him when Flora needs me so much? If I told her about him, she would coerce me into getting married, but I couldn't leave her in such a state – so I haven't told her at all – but I – I can't bear hurting Ethan either… I don't know what to do!' Further thoughts were swept away on a new wave of misery, and Anne, heart sinking in distress at the thought of both their predicaments, was only able to offer paltry, though heart-felt, words - in an attempt to raise her spirits.
Elizabeth had walked down to the trees which hid the masses of starflowers from view, in the sombre mien that children sport when they know that there is trouble in the adult world, when a patch of blue waving in the wind caught her eye. It was a carpet of bluebells, more than half a mile down the slope on which she stood, beyond which lay the twinkling waters of the Grafton River. All grave thoughts were brushed aside by the desire to observe the fresh blooms from close-up, but Elizabeth hesitated, afraid of getting lost (or kidnapped!) if she strayed too far from known territory. Then she remembered the tale of a brother and sister that Dora had read to her just the previous evening, and mimicking the brave Hans, began to strew the petals of starflowers behind her as she walked. The azure spread of bell-shaped flowers seemed to welcome her by dancing to the soft wind, and Elizabeth kneeled down amidst them and inhaled their delicate scent. A twig snapped, and she looked up to find that someone else had come to admire the sight of the bluebells.
It was a man, with skin that had the colour and lustre of richly-polished ebony, close-cropped wool-like hair and a white wide-smile that lit up his face. Elizabeth looked at him in wonder, having never seen anyone like him except in a large tome on the history of Canada that was in the library at Evergreens.
'Are you – are you a... a slave?' she asked, hesitantly.
'No, he is not.' said another voice, a little brusquely, and Elizabeth found that a young man stood a little away to the left, frowning a little. She thought he looked very nice – Anne would've said that he matched her old ideal of the 'handsome, silent, brooding' hero perfectly(especially with his current expression) – though she felt a little scared, thinking that she may have made him angry, but then, his brow cleared, and he smiled a little as he said, "Thomas is a freeman."
Elizabeth pondered this awhile, and told the grinning Thomas. "I think you are very lucky. I am free now"-confidentially-"because I am with Miss Shirley, but when I go back home, I have to listen to the Woman, and she never lets me free, you know."
'Would you like to see something, little miss?' Thomas asked, taking out a thin reed pipe from the bag he carried. The other young man (whose name little Elizabeth felt she couldn't ask, as it wasn't polite, but which I'll let you know, was Ethan Strafford- the very same one whom Fauna was crying over, up at the house, because of the visit he had paid her) smiled.
Before Elizabeth's wide-eyed gaze, Thomas began to play a tune on the pipe: a tune that slowly soothed and beckoned, and then lilted in such sprightly, happy notes that one felt like skipping and dancing to its tones. She was so engrossed in listening to the enchanting sounds he produced, that she didn't realize how quiet the clearing had become, and only noticed that something was different, when a small white rabbit hopped into view. It crept quite close to the still-playing Thomas, and while the astounded and thrilled Elizabeth watched, was soon joined by a squirrel, two finches and a thrush.
Thomas stopped playing. The squirrel chattered at him; the rabbit, just a baby, gazed unblinkingly at him as though wondering where the music had gone; the finches trilled out a couple of notes as if trying to mimic him, and the thrush began a new song as though in acknowledgement of a kindred spirit.
Elizabeth sat still, hardly daring to breathe, as Thomas, moving very carefully and slowly so as to not startle the animals, put out a hand with some berries. The squirrel, with a store of nuts of its own at the base of a nearby tree, looked uninterested, but the rabbit hopped nearer – and after what seemed like an hour of patience, but which was only a few moments – ate the berries right from out of his hand, and allowed him to slowly stroke it with one finger.
Thomas beckoned to Elizabeth to come closer, and in her eagerness, she moved faster than the animals were used to, and in between two blinks of the eye, they had disappeared.
"Oh!" said Elizabeth, very upset. "Could you please teach me how to play like that?" she asked Thomas, who now seemed a near-magical figure in her eyes.
Thomas nodded in acquiescence, and Ethan told her smilingly, "You must learn to be very patient and gentle with animals – that is how they come so easily to Thomas. There is something in him that makes them trust him fully, and if you learn to be the same, they will become friends with you very easily, too."
Elizabeth took these words of advice seriously, and after gathering a handful of bluebells and saying goodbye to the two men, started back to the house, feeling like she had met someone right out of Tomorrow – someone whom she would call the Animal Man, and place in a house in the Fairy Woods on her map of Tomorrow, when she went back to Evergreens at the end of her visit.
Anne had gone over to Newbridge to buy some special spools of thread that Mrs Lynde wanted urgently, when she ran into Flora, who had just come out of the general store.
'I was hoping to meet you one of these days, Anne,' she said in her usual soft manner, 'I'm sorry I missed you the other day when you visited – we are leaving Echo Lodge this Saturday, and I'd like to invite you to dinner at the White Sands hotel this Friday. There is a concert there, and if it's not too strenuous for her, you could bring little Elizabeth along, as well – I am sure she would enjoy it greatly.'
'Oh, of course, we would love to come,' said Anne gaily, 'and I'm sure Elizabeth will be so transported by excitement at the thought of attending her first concert, that she'll not be able to 'sleep a wink' till Friday – I know I felt the same when I attended my first 'adult' outing.'
Flora smiled slightly and left, and Anne was left with that queer mixture of sympathy and helplessness that one feels when one sees someone suffering but cannot do anything to help them in any way.
When she returned to Green Gables, Marilla met her in the yard.
'There's someone who's come to meet you, Anne – he said his name is Ethan Strafford – do you know him? He's been waiting for nearly an hour - I've placed him in the parlour, but I didn't know what to say to him – Davy has been 'entertaining' him for the past half-hour – you had better go in soon and save Mr Strafford-' Davy no longer gave Marilla as much trouble as when he had first come to Green Gables, but his irrepressible curiosity had not abated over the years – and Marilla had learnt to fend off his questions to other, unsuspecting persons, without feeling too guilty – though she often laughed at herself for having been reduced to doing so.
Anne found Ethan Strafford to be a young man with brown hair, green eyes and well-made features clouded over with worry.
'I hope I'm not imposing upon you, Miss Shirley - Fauna told me that she told you all about us – and so I came to ask if you could help us out of this muddle. She won't even agree to tell Flora about us – and now, she's forbidden me to even go and meet her, and says I must forget all about her. All this seems too melodramatic to me – I'm sure Flora can be just as comfortable with us – why would I try to separate Fauna from her? I don't know how to make her understand – she accuses me of not realizing how important her sister is to her, and says I'm being callous - the more I try to convince her, the more I feel like I'm losing her - but… how can she just expect me to forget her and go my way? I have no idea what I'm going to do –'
Anne, feeling decades older in experience at this earnest declaration, was racking her brains to find a suitable solution to this tangle, when little Elizabeth came running in, pink-cheeked and breathless.
'Miss Shirley, there is a cat that has just given birth to a litter in Mr. Harrison's barn – they're so adorable!' She stopped suddenly, flushing, as she realised that there was a visitor present. When she recognized him, she addressed Ethan with, 'Hello - has Mr. Thomas come with you?' much to Anne's amazement, who hadn't known of their first meeting, and was well acquainted with little Elizabeth's timidity around strangers.
When Ethan shook his head, her face twisted in disappointment. 'Oh, I was wishing I could've shown Dora how he can call all animals using his special pipe-'
Ethan laughed. 'He had some work in Charlottetown, so I'm afraid he can't charm the chickens out of their coop with his music today, Miss Elizabeth.'
Anne was made aware of their previous meeting, and she recollected the invitation she had received that morning.
'There is a concert this Friday, which we are going to attend with Flora and Fauna – if you could be there at the hotel, we could try to devise some way of getting you to speak with Flora…I understand why Fauna does not want to tell her about you – but I am sure once Flora knows, the situation will resolve itself somehow…'
To little Elizabeth, Friday evening seemed to take ages to arrive, though no moment at Green Gables seemed dull, and there was something to marvel at, admire or enjoy, at every turn. As Anne had predicted, she had been thrown into such a whirl of ecstasy at the news of the concert that she felt like she was the 'Bettiest of Bettys', as she told Anne, for the two interim days. 'Oh, will Friday never come?' she thought despairingly every morning, before being reminded of some other, nearer delight in store. But come it did, at last, and little Elizabeth drove over to White Sands in the wagon with her dear Miss Shirley, looking very prettily adorable in her new pink, gingham dress and brown kid boots, carrying a nosegay of velvety white pansies with petals edged by purple highlights and with large hazel eyes as full of stars as her beloved idol's grey ones often were.
Anne, thinking 'deep, deep thoughts' about Flora and how her sister's marriage would affect her, was feeling a little too melancholy on her behalf to appreciate the beauty of the indigo-imbued evening landscape. She didn't notice the name of the singer on the board at the entrance of the concert hall, and was quite startled to see the size of the crowd, but the true surprise came when she met Fauna and they had settled down for the program to begin. The first piece was announced as being sung by Helena Montaigne, and Anne gave a start of surprise at hearing that famous name, but was beyond astonishment when Flora walked onto the stage! She turned amazed eyes to Fauna, who was grinning sheepishly, but couldn't demand an explanation as the song began just then. She had thought that she had known how well Flora sang, but as that rich voice rang out in that vast hall, the very air seemed to vibrate with the sound of music, and she felt goose bumps on her arms in response.
'Helena was our mother's name,' said Fauna when there was a break between the numbers, 'and Flora uses it as a stage name – she says it makes her stay sane in the 'world of glamour' as she calls the fame that her voice has brought her. We wanted to tell you that first day, but somehow, the subject never came up – and wasn't this the better way?'
'Indeed, this was a glorious surprise,' Anne assured her, grey eyes shining with delight.
Elizabeth found the evening more magical than anything she had ever known. All around her were ladies dressed elegantly in silk and satin of the most beautiful colours, and the great chandelier that lit up the hall seemed to make the smallest of trinkets sparkle - making the crowd seem like a sea of moving, twinkling, rainbow-coloured waves. Miss Flora sang many times, and Elizabeth stared at her in enraptured awe, feeling a little thrill every time she remembered that she was actually, really attending a concert for the first time. The magnificent music, the glittering lights, the very air – perfumed by the numerous bouquets that decorated the hall, seemed to transport her into some new sphere – and she felt, with sudden certainty – that this was a small piece out of Tomorrow which she had been allowed to live out now – as a special treat, and which was all that was needed to make her stay in Avonlea perfect. Oh, how wonderfully Miss Flora sang! It was the last song of the concert, and it was an old, simple one, but how sweet, how bitter in its simplicity! She sang of Barbara Allen and her cruel beauty, and Elizabeth felt like crying at the sorrow in the melody – why, Miss Shirley and Miss Fauna did have tears in their eyes! Elizabeth didn't understand much of the words, but as she sang the words –"Hard-hearted creature, him to slight, Who loved me so dearly, O that I had been more kind to him, When he was live and near me!", she saw that Miss Flora had her head bowed and hands clenched, as though in pain.
There was a beat of pure silence when the song finished, and then the multitude broke out into thunderous applause – and then – and then - Elizabeth didn't understand the events that followed very well, but she saw Miss Flora raise her head and turn as 'pale as a ghost' at the sight of someone at the back of the room, and sway as though she were going to faint; Miss Fauna turn around to see what she had caught sight of and cry out "Peter!" and turning around herself, saw a tall, gaunt-looking man with Mr Strafford and Mr Thomas standing at the door of the room.
Much later, as they sat for dinner, with Miss Flora holding hands with the stranger and eyes fixed on him as though he might disappear if she so much as blinked even once, little Elizabeth heard his story, along with everyone else.
'We had been blown off course during the storm, and though our sailing ship was battered – had managed to steer towards land, when we were shipwrecked somewhere off the coast of Suffolk. I won't call it an island - it was just barely an outcrop of rocks, with a few trees, and for nearly two months we weren't able to communicate with the mainland at all, as it was not on any of the trade routes – we finally managed to attract the attention of a passing fishing schooner, and got in near Fort Andrews. Richard, my friend, had been quite severely injured – and I had to stay in Portsmouth till he recovered – he is quite without any kith or kin. I'd sent word to my family, and letters to Flora, but by some misfortune, none of them seemed to have reached – and this summer, I returned to Boston and found that no one knew where Flora and Fauna were. It was by quite a stroke of luck that I met Stephen Irving and his wife one evening at a friend's house, and learnt that you were here on Prince Edward Island – I journeyed down as soon as I could – and ran into Thomas, whom I heard saying Fauna's name, in Charlottetown–'
'I'd asked him to send a telegram off to my folks, saying I would be here for a little while more' said Ethan, turning a little red around the ears. Flora had been too busy to notice anyone but Peter, but she had still noted that Ethan and Fauna sat nearly as close together as she and Peter did, and at this, Anne saw her scrutinize him with the protective eyes of a mother lion, though she seemed too happy to let any negative emotions intrude.
'And so, both of them can now have their 'happily-ever-afters', wrote Anne to Gilbert later. 'Mrs Lynde often speaks doubtfully about the efficiency of Providence in the management of our lives, but isn't it so marvellous to see how many miracles it brings about? Flora and Fauna had been going to leave for England on the morrow – they would probably have made it their permanent home, as Boston held too many painful memories- and how many years of suffering might they each have had to endure, if Peter hadn't come just when he did! My heart had ached to see Flora suffering – people may have said that she had everything; but what is the use of talent and fame and wealth if your heart is filled with grief? When she broke down and cried in Peter's arms, I felt so filled with relieved happiness for their sake that I uttered a prayer of thankfulness to that benevolent God who had brought them together again – and felt like shouting out to all those cynics who question his existence, that "Look! He lives, and He does love us!" They are to get married this summer - Ethan and Fauna, as well, and I have been invited to their weddings. Flora smiles fully now – her eyes unclouded by that reminder of tragedy, and though I felt too awed of her beautiful voice in the beginning of our acquaintance to be comfortable, we have since made up for lost time. Gilbert darling, I know that clichés are unoriginal and predictable – but in this case, I'm so glad to be able to echo after Shakespeare that "All's well that ends well!" '
A/N: This is the longest one-shot I've written, and now that I've finally managed to complete it(after a month of musing over the idea - when my hands were bound due to exams) I just want to say : Thank God for Anne. Really. What with all the doomsday prophecies, and my sudden introduction to dystopia-oriented series, I was so relieved to return to Anne's beautiful,normal,sane world, and can wish you all a heartfelt Happy New Year with a happy heart. :)
The story that Dora tells Elizabeth is Hansel and Gretel by the Grimm brothers.
I really enjoyed writing this fanfic, though it quite got on my nerves at times(I now know what authors mean when they say the story seemed to take a life of it's own!) and if it gave you half the happiness I felt while writing it, I'll be content. :) Please do review and say!