A Lifetime of Fun
Una and Faith had not shared a bed for many years, but Una was glad that Faith sought her out tonight. It was unseasonably cold for July, and the two girls snuggled down under the coverlet, whispering.
"Are you scared, Faith?" Una asked, eyes sparkling with wonder.
"No," Faith beamed, burying her face in the pillow for a moment before peeking out again. "Do you think I should be?"
"Amy Taylor told me that her sister Hattie was wild to get engaged, but then when it happened, she realized what it meant and was petrified."
Faith giggled. "No, I'm not scared. How I could I be? It's just Jem."
Just Jem was not a phrase that Una heard very often, at least not from anyone but Faith. Jem Blythe was quite a lot. But Una knew that Faith and Jem understood one another as no outsider to their happiness could. She was not afraid for her sister, either.
"Let me see your ring again," Una said.
Faith needed no coaxing. It was an old ring — very old— and not particularly fashionable: a deep red garnet set in a simple gold band. In the moonlight, it was nearly black.
"It belonged to Dr. Blythe's mother," Faith explained, stroking the ring with her thumb.
Una let out a little giggle.
"What?" Faith asked, poking her in the ribs.
"Nothing," Una said, still smiling. "Just . . . you wouldn't expect Jem to be so sentimental, but he is."
Faith rolled her eyes. "You have no idea."
"Does anybody else know yet?" Una asked, wriggling with excitement.
"No. No one except Father, because Jem asked permission. And I suppose Rosemary must know if Father does. But even they don't know it happened today. We're going to surprise everyone at the picnic tomorrow."
"Surprise?" Una asked, suddenly wary.
Faith tried and failed to stifle a grin.
"What are you planning, Faith?" Una squeaked.
"It's a surprise!"
"Knowing what you and Jem consider a surprise, you're likely to give us all heart failure!"
"Well," Faith said, considering, "it's possible. But Dr. Blythe will be there to come to your aid."
"Unless he's the one with heart failure," Una reasoned.
Faith shrugged. "I guess he's pretty healthy." Then, squirming with delight, "Oh, Una, this is going to be so much fun!"
"You really won't tell me what you're planning?" Una pleaded.
"No, silly. Then it wouldn't be a surprise! And besides, I didn't just mean tomorrow. I get to marry Jem! I've got a whole lifetime of fun ahead of me."
"I'm happy for you, Faith," Una said, wrapping a delicate arm around her sister's waist. "And happy that you're so happy."
"Thanks, Una," Faith said, hugging her back. "It will still be two years til Jem is done with medical school. But come July of 1916, I'll be Mrs. James Blythe, and that you may tie to, as Susan says."
"Can I be your bridesmaid?" Una asked, only realizing afterward that it was a presumptuous question. "Unless you'd rather have Di, of course," she amended.
"Of course you can be my bridesmaid, you goose!" Faith grinned. "You can even pick the color for your dress if you want."
"Are you going to wear Mother's dress?" Una asked, wide-eyed, thinking of the gray silk dress that had comforted her so much in her childhood.
"I don't know," Faith considered. "I've never tried it on. I think Mother might have been quite a bit smaller than I am. You'll be able to wear it when you get married, though."
Una blushed. "I don't think I'll ever get married."
"Nonsense!" Faith declared. "We just have to be on the lookout for the right chap."
Una hoped that it was dark enough to hide any further stain of crimson rising into her cheeks. She knew very well who the right chap was, but had no hope of ever doing anything about it.
"Tell me about the proposal," Una said, hoping to distract Faith. "Did you know he was going to ask today?"
Faith beamed. "Not at first. He asked me to go for a sail. But as soon as I saw that we were headed to Gull Island, I knew."
"Gull Island?" Una asked, puzzled. "That little rocky island way out in the gulf?"
"That's the one," Faith smiled.
"Why would he take you all the way out there?"
Faith giggled. "It just had to be there."
"That's . . . another story for another day."
Una frowned. "Wait. Was that where you wrecked Mr. Ford's sailboat?"
Faith could only nod.
"Is there more to that story than I have heard before?" Una asked, her eyes going very round.
Faith nodded again, biting her lower lip in an effort to keep from grinning.
Una shook her head. "Faith Meredith, what did you do?"
Faith seized the edge of the coverlet and raised it up over their heads. "Come under with me and I'll tell you," she whispered.