“Bash, I’m off to Charlottetown.”
“Big day then, eh, Blythe?”
“The biggest.” Absentmindedly quoting Anne, he flinched at the memory.
Hazel cleared away his plate and stood at attention.
This is not okay. “Ma’am I cannot live this way. I truly appreciate your presence here, but you are not a servant here and I am not your master. You are a member of this family. Sometimes you will cook and clean, sometimes Bash will and sometimes, heaven help us, I will. Sebastian is my brother and the only reason I have gotten through the death of my father and Mary. Please relax. Enjoy your granddaughter. She needs you, not a maid.”
Sebastian stood and smirked. “Told you, mama. Blythe, where did this outburst come from?”
“Sorry for being so blunt ma’am. I think I’m just a little nervous. I’ll see you both tonight.”
In a daze, Gilbert found himself boarding the crowded train to Charlottetown. He found a seat next to an elderly woman and sat down. For a long while there was silence while Gilbert shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
“You look positively terrified.”
“My dear boy, you haven’t stopped fidgeting since you plopped down next to me, what on earth could be the matter?”
“I’ll try to stop. Sorry to have disturbed you.”
“You have done no such thing. Now please, explain yourself.”
Gilbert looked out the window and said nothing, trying to find the words and failing miserably, again.
“I’m Josephine Barry. I’m…”
“You’re Aunt Jo!”
“Correct, and you are?”
“Gilbert Blythe, ma’am.”
“Ahh yes. The infamous Gilbert Blythe. I’ve heard of you.”
Gilbert groaned. Infamous. That’s just great. "I’m to understand that you usually travel by your own carriage. May I ask-what are you doing on the train?”
“Indulging. I do love a good train ride.”
Gilbert perked up at that, memories of his father resurfacing.
“Diana shared your school’s many newsletters while I was visiting. I just read the obituary you wrote for Mary. She seemed a most exquisite individual, and you are a very talented writer. She must have meant a great deal to you.”
“She was… well, she was the closest thing to a mother I’ve ever known. Wise, loving, strong. I miss her very much. To be honest, I haven’t really felt like myself since she passed.”
“I’m very sorry to hear that.” She paused. “I also enjoyed that piece- ‘What is Fair.’ You must be acquainted with my dear friend Anne. Her eloquence and intelligence precede her time, I do believe. That girl will change the world.” Had Gilbert been looking at her, he would have seen her eyes twinkle with pride, and a little bit of mischief.
His face soured, “Of that I have no doubt.” He said under his breath.
He continued fidgeting.
“Please, young man, my time on this earth is limited; now explain what has you in such a state.”
“I’m heading into Charlottetown, to propose.” He tried to sound confident, but something caught in his throat and he came off looking and sounding like an awkward child playing a role in a play.
“How delightful! This should be cause for celebration, but here you sit, bouncing your leg so vigorously that I fear we may derail! Do you have doubts as to her consent?”
“No. I have doubts as to my worthiness. Her family has brought a lot to the table and I don’t have, well, anything to offer her. My means are limited, and I can’t provide her the life to which she’s accustomed. Luckily, her father is exceedingly generous and has offered us a life in Paris. A life I could only dream of, but I feel like I’m not holding up my end of the deal.”
“Surely that can’t be the case. You’re a handsome young man; any woman would be delighted to be on your arm. You seem intelligent and I’ve heard you would like to become a doctor. That is a very respectable vocation. Also, I knew your father; I have no doubt he raised you to be a good man." Gilbert had calmed a little. Feeling better about himself by the minute. “But there is something else. Really, it’s the only thing that matters. All you need is love, my dear boy. Do you lover her?”
His heart plummeted. “She is a wonderful person. Amazing, really. She’s easy to be with, exceedingly intelligent, charming, funny, and incredibly beautiful.”
“That’s all well and good, but you deflected my question and I fear that you are correct.”
Gilbert’s eyes narrowed, “What do you mean?”
“Dear boy, if you don’t love her, you are correct; you have nothing to offer her.”
The color drained from his face and his breath was taken from him. He was practically left gasping for air by the words of this woman.
The train screeched to a halt.
Aunt Jo smirked at him, “It has been a rare pleasure meeting you on this train, Mr. Blythe. I do hope you figure out your heart before it is too late.”
Anne had sprinted out of Green Gables after her epiphany, with Diana failing to catch up to her.
“Anne!” Marilla shouted. “Anne! Where are you going?”
“We’re just racing to my house, Mrs. Cuthbert, though I fear I have already lost. Lovely seeing you! Good afternoon!”
And they were gone- blurs of brown and blue into the sunlight. Out of view of Green Gables, Diana began walking home, confident that Anne could take care of this on her own.
Anne sprinted to The Blythe-Lacroix homestead and pounded on the door. A woman Anne was not familiar with answered.
“Blythe residence, how may I help?”
“You must be Hazel! Oh! How delightful to meet you!” Anne jumped on her with a hug, intending to welcome her lovingly into the community, but accidentally causing a fright.
“What backwards place have you brought me to dear boy? This beauty with hair of fire fawning over me? I just can’t make sense of it!”
“Mama, this is my dear friend Anne.”
Anne blushed, smiled sweetly and collected herself, “My apologies for being so forward ma’am. Sebastian- is Gilbert here?”
“Um no Anne, I’m sorry. He… he left for Charlottetown this morning.”
Devastation overcame her and she dropped to the ground. Sebastian looked confused.
“He said he asked if there was any hope for you two and that you said no. He was crushed.”
“He asked NO such thing! He approached me while I was DRUNK and asked me to stop him from following his dreams to the Sorbonne!”
“Blythe, you moke,” he said, exhaling in disappointment. “That boy is a walking disaster.”
“Anne, come in and sit down, we’ll have some tea. Miss Stacy is coming by in a bit, maybe she can help.”
“Why is Miss Stacy coming here?”
“I ran into her yesterday at the creek. She was rage fishing. I thought she could use some company. We are going to commiserate over the disdain this community holds for us. As I recollect hearing, you too had your trials upon coming to Avonlea.”
Anne rose to her feet. “I will sit with you, but there is not enough tea in the world to quell my anguish. I thought I knew what the depths of despair felt like. I was so wrong. Perhaps the company will help.”
“I will give you a taste of my rum my dear. Don’t tell Marilla. Let me be clear, it will not solve your problems, but you deserve a treat on a day like today.”
“How was the train ride in, Mr. Blythe?” Winifred asked with a smile on her lips. They sat down to tea at that same table, like they had so often before.
“Interesting.” Gilbert looked worried, and sounded worse.
“I read the article your dear friend Anne wrote. It was absolutely astonishing. She has put into words something that has been bothering me for years. What an incredible talent she has! I would very much like to-”
“Winnie?” Gilbert interrupted while playing with the ring in his pocket, which had become stuck around the clip on a pen. No, not a pen. Anne’s pen. Damn it. Of course this would happen. “Do you love me?” The words escaped his mouth before he could stop them.
She had just taken a sip of her tea and choked at the question, “Excuse me?”
Well, there’s no point stopping now. “Do you love me?”
“I’m not exactly sure how to respond to such a question. Please show some propriety!”
“Respond with the truth. And I will not. You know better than anyone how archaic and mundane these ‘rules’ are.”
“Gilbert, you are wonderful, and I truly enjoy spending time with you.”
“But you don’t love me.”
“There are more important things to a partnership Gilbert,” she whispered harshly.
“I disagree. There are not more important things in a partnership. Not for me. Not anymore.” He took a drink of his tea. “Its fine, Winnie, and I’m sorry, but I don’t love you.” He said flatly, disappointment and frustration growing in his chest from the realization that he had acted so foolishly regarding those he claimed to care about. “I do however, care enough for you to want the very best for you. You deserve a life filled with love. You have so much to offer. Everything, in fact. I can’t find one fault with who you are. The acceptance and kindness you and your family have shown me and my family has been an absolute honor that I have done nothing to deserve.”
“Where is this coming from?” She slowly put down her cup, slightly shaking at the restraint it took to calmly perform such an action under duress, seeing a certain future crumble in front of her.
“Mary. Mary is the only mother I have ever known. I didn’t get the chance to know her for long, but she cared enough for me that on her deathbed she advised me to marry for love, only for love. That is the last conversation I had with her, and it was her only wish for me. While you are the ideal woman in so many ways, my heart belongs to another, and I cannot marry someone I don't love, as spectacular as they may be.”
“And does this other reciprocate your feelings?” She responded, somewhat coolly.
“I doubt it, but it doesn’t matter. You don’t deserve to be someone’s second choice.”
Winifred’s eyes glistened with moisture.
“I’m truly sorry for wasting your time. I treasure your friendship but understand if you don’t want to see me again. I will write to your parents to thank them for their generosity and hospitality, but I can’t in good conscious marry you. You deserve the very best, and I am now certain that I can’t be that for you.”
“I can’t say I’m not hurt, but I appreciate your honesty. I do believe that a life spent alongside someone who loves another would have been trying at best.”
“May I walk you home?”
“No thank you, Mr. Blythe.”
“Goodbye, Miss Rose,” he said with tears in his eyes.
Gilbert returned on the train feeling lighter than he had in months. Momentarily free from the responsibilities of becoming a man, he let himself relax and enjoy the scenery. He felt his father’s presence then, something he had been missing in recent months, and allowed himself to close his eyes and dream. It seemed that it was only moments later that he got off the train and headed straight toward Green Gables.
He arrived sooner than he thought was possible and ran up the steps. He straightened out his appearance best he could before knocking on the door, which was answered almost immediately.
“Mrs. Cuthbert, good evening. I’m sorry it is so late. I need to apologize to Anne, is she available?” The words flew out of his mouth and he paused, both in surprise at how quickly he could speak and to catch his breath.
“Why Gilbert, hello! I’m afraid she is still at Diana’s. She must be staying overnight at this late hour, perhaps you can visit tomorrow?”
“Of course,” he said, doing a poor job of hiding his disappointment, but also a bit relieved that he had no choice but to wait until the morning to deal with the mess he created. “Can you please tell her I stopped by and that I’m sorry? I will be back tomorrow to give her the full apology she deserves.”
“Certainly Gilbert,” she said, voicing concern, “May I ask what happened?”
“I don’t want to betray her privacy, but I know now that I hurt her and it is killing me. I need to make it right.”
“I will tell her you stopped by.” Gilbert reluctantly started walking away. “And Gilbert, Anne is quick to temper but also quick to forgive. I’m sure she won’t hold what you’ve done against you for long.”
Sure, she seemed to get over the Carrots thing quickly. “I hope you’re right, Mrs. Cuthbert, but I wouldn’t blame her if she held it against me for all eternity.” He left Marilla confused and troubled, watching him slowly head down the hill toward his house.
He continued home, finding some peace on the cool, still summer night. He entered his house with a small smile on his face, still feeling relief from a great burden having been lifted off him and being granted time to form his apology. Laughter died away at his arrival. That’s great, I walk into my own house and the happiness fades away.
“Blythe. You moke.” These same words were usually spoken to him out of love, but this time, they cut him. “You look happy. Is there cause for celebration?” he asked dryly.
Gilbert was stunned into silence at the sight of Bash, Miss Stacy and Anne sitting around his kitchen table. Anne’s face fell at the sight of him. He looked around. He could smell rum in the air.
He looked at Sebastian. “Where’s your mom? And Delphine?”
“They turned in. If you listen carefully you can hear the snoring.”
“Bash, is that your nearly empty bottle of rum?”
“We are just celebrating being outcasts, I’m sorry, but you can’t partake. You would never understand.” They all laughed, like it was some inside joke.
Gilbert took the bottle and had a drink. This has been a difficult day and I don’t think it’s about to get better. He took a deep breath. Here we go. “Anne may I please speak with you? Outside?”
Anne rose reluctantly, intending to look him straight in the eyes, forgetting she was significantly shorter than he was. Well, that didn’t go as planned. Good start. “Why?”
“Please hear me out. Afterward, if you’d like, you never have to speak with me again.” Please don’t let it come to that.
“Well, that sounds promising.” Having not brought a jacket, Gilbert offered her his. She accepted and led him out the door. Bash and Miss Stacy stared at each other, eyebrows up, barely containing their excitement.
“This is going to be good.” Bash said with a smile, “That boy is an idiot and that girl has unknowingly been bewitching him for years. Shall we watch?”
“Sebastian! That would be completely inappropriate! You are his brother and I am their teacher!”
“Correction, I am his brother and you WERE their teacher. Now, you are their friend. A very concerned friend just looking out for their well-being. Plus, Gilbert is very bad at sharing, and honestly not that great at talking.” He stopped and thought for a minute. “The boy is a downright fool. This, my teacher friend is a scientific deduction based off years of observation. If I don’t watch, I will never get the full story and I have been listening to him talk about Anne being ‘just a friend’ since I met him. This madness ends tonight!”
“Oh that is so sweet! I always felt some energy between them, but I had no idea!”
“It is not sweet, Miss Stacy. It is annoying as hell. Years of my life, ma’am. Years. Mark my words, if he doesn’t fix this, I will.”
Miss Stacy smiled and pulled him toward the window, “You’re right, I just want the best for them. Let’s watch. And Sebastian, please call me Muriel. I am certainly not YOUR teacher.”
Anne stood, arms crossed in front of her, looking at this infuriating man-child who vexed her beyond comprehension, “Well?”
Gilbert stood facing her, about an arms-length away. “Before I begin, are you drunk?”
“No. I’m angry and confident. It’s different.” It's not different, but tonight both her mind and her heart were clear.
“Anne, I’m sorry. I never should have-”
She exploded, “No! You shouldn’t have! What on earth were you thinking coming to me with that, what would you call it, a PLEA? In the middle of the night? When I was DRUNK? You expect me to be responsible for taking your dreams away from you when you have never even said that you-”
“Anne, I know. Please let me speak.”
“Why should I? What purpose will it serve? When I let you speak, I’M the one who is hurt, I’M the one who is let down, I’M the one who is left ALONE!”
“I owe you an apology,” he said, truly trying to stay calm.
“Damn RIGHT you owe me an apology!”
“If you haven’t TAKEN NOTICE,” his voice rising, becoming stiffer “that is what I’m trying to do!” Deep breaths, Gilbert. “Regardless of if you forgive me, I know I owe this to you, and I would like to be heard!” He really was doing his best to not make this into an argument, but he knew from the beginning his success was unlikely. She has no idea that I am just as argumentative as she is; this is going to be interesting.
There was silence as they both took a deep breath, attempting to calm down.
“Anne, I never should have approached you like that after the exams. I know that I ruined a special night for you with a burden that was in no way yours to bear. Ever since Mary died, I’ve been lost, and Winifred became a part of my life that I could escape to, that was constant, that didn’t yell at me, that didn’t have memories of pain and loss.” He heard Anne scoff, “Anne, I’m not trying to make excuses, I just want you to understand how I got us into this mess!” He took another deep breath. “Every time you spoke or smiled or argued with me, I became more drawn to you, but you seemed to retreat from me over and over again. So in an effort to move on and leave you be, I became friends with Miss Rose.”
“So now THAT is MY fault?!? How dare you blame me for that! I am not responsible for your decisions!”
“ANNE! Stop! Please! Just stop talking!” He was yelling now, straining to be heard.
She was silent. He had never spoken to her like this. Her eyes were wide. They were both simultaneously shaking with rage and the release of years of feelings. He has never argued with me like this before. Perhaps we are more alike than I realized.
(“Should we go out there and stop this? I think she is going to explode.”
“It’s no more than that moke deserves. Let her be; she’s the strongest person I know. This is very entertaining! I think I’ll get a snack.” Sebastian rushed away to find some crackers.)
“I thought I felt something shift in you after we danced, but again you ran and then you ran again, and like an idiot I let you run away and if I’m being honest, I ran away myself. And then I thought we connected again that night on Miss Stacy’s porch, when for once we weren’t arguing. Just sitting, honestly enjoying each other, it felt like a dream! I thought you felt what I did, but again you retreated. I realize now that while I thought my interest in you was clear, it was muddy, at best. You are the most spectacular thing to happen to this town, to me…”
Alright, that’s it. “I retreated because you are with another woman! I will NOT be responsible for your downfall from respectable society! How could I do that to you? How could I do that to myself?!? How could I risk becoming what everyone in this place already thinks I am? How on earth was I supposed to know that you were interested in me?” She said this through her teeth, barely containing her emotion, “I have been told my ENTIRE life that I am worthless, that I am trash, that I am homely and unlikely to marry. It has been imprinted into my soul that I am unworthy of love. How. HOW was I supposed to believe that someone like you could EVER care for me? It wasn’t until I came to Avonlea that I understood that people could even tolerate my existence! Every day I must remind myself that there are a few who love me! That I have a home here, and regardless of my efforts, EVERY night the nightmares return.”
Gilbert cut in. “That’s enough, Anne. Your past, terrible as it undoubtedly was has made you who you are. If you don’t want others to hold it against you, you have got to stop holding it against yourself. How do YOU, of all people, not see how remarkable you are?!? You have the most vivid imagination! You can find beauty in everything except when it comes to seeing the beauty in yourself!!! It is absolutely INFURIATING! Do you fail to see the life you’ve brought to the Cuthberts? The opportunity you have brought to Jerry? Yes, I know you’ve been spending what little free time you have providing him with education. Do you even understand the courage and confidence you have given to Diana? Always, polite to a fault, she was a timid wallflower until you arrived. How about Bash? You are the sister he never had, you are the aunt to his daughter that he could never have dreamed of! What about Ruby? Tillie? You have even made a friend out of Josie Pye! JOSIE FREAKING PYE! The most hateful and obnoxious girl in our entire class! Someone who has done nothing but treat you with disdain and hatred, you have turned her into a friend by your sheer relentless tenacity! You may have started out alone, but you would have to be BLIND to not see the love that surrounds you here in Avonlea. You say you have, and I quote, ‘a few’ people who love you? I saw you dancing last night; adored by your classmates, leading the celebration of the youth who used to despise you. You are loved by SO many!!!” He paused to catch his breath, composing himself just a bit, “And by no one more than me.” He was on the verge of tears. He stopped, not quite comprehending what he had said, hoping that everything came out in the right order.
(“Damn…” Muriel said under her breath before taking another bite of her cracker. Sebastian looked at her with wide eyes and suppressed a guffaw.)
“Is this all for calling you Carrots? You have put up this wall between us and I can’t figure it out. Why…” his voice was breaking, “why won’t you let me in? What have I done that is worse than Josie Pye that you hate me SO much?” Gilbert saw her shift on her feet. “Don’t you dare run, Anne. I’m sick and tired of chasing after you.”
Anne said nothing. Dear Lord, I broke her. “Anne?”
“You asked me to listen.”
“And this is the first time you’ve ever done as I requested.”
“Feel free to offer a response then. I’ve just now realized that there are few things I find more terrifying than your silence.”
“I don’t hate you. I tried to at first, but I never did. Explain the carrots.”
Her even, controlled tone cut through the cool summer night. Confused, he cleared his throat, “Pardon?”
“You seem uncharacteristically eloquent this evening Gilbert Blythe. Explain. The. Carrots.”
He hesitated, “Um, well, you arrived in Avonlea when I was terribly burdened. My father was dying, I was alone. A child, watching his last remaining family die. I came upon you in the woods and I had never seen anything so striking. You were the first vision of life and light in my life in so long. I just wanted to talk to you Anne, to get to know you, but you refused to speak to me. I was so desperate just to hear your voice. I’m sorry,” he laughed suddenly, “but I don’t regret pulling your braid. I regret that it made you mad at me, but I don’t regret my actions because, understand me Anne, being near you? It’s like being near the sun. You emanate light and goodness and warmth. Unfortunately for me, you also burn. Time after time. I felt your presence that day and it warmed my soul in an instant after what seemed like an eternity of loneliness and heartbreak. I needed to be near you, to get to know you. But, as you may remember, you were having none of it.”
Silence again. Damn it. “Anne, please, say something.”
“I put up a wall between us because of Ruby. She had dibs and I wanted, no, I needed friends. I needed to be accepted for the first time in my life and you came along and walked with me and talked with me and jeopardized that opportunity.”
“Dibs isn’t a thing!”
“Shut your mouth Gilbert Blythe it is your turn to listen!”
(Had either of them realized they were not the only people in the world at this moment, they could have seen two heads huddled together peering out the window at them, eyes wide, mouths chewing crackers very slowly, observing theater at its finest.)
“Please understand that any feelings I have for you I truly thought would not be reciprocated, not by someone as amazing as you. Pushing you away was my effort at not getting my hopes up and preparing myself to face reality.”
“A life alone,” she barely spoke above a whisper.
"No, you don't understand, how could you?" She was crying, but her voice was gaining strength again, "I could have never even dreamed that anyone would be interested in me, LEAST of all YOU!”
He responded in kind, yelling what should have probably been spoken with care and love. “Well, you seem to think pretty highly of me, when it is increasingly clear to both of us that I am a complete idiot!!! Also, your imagination is apparently not the unstoppable force I thought it was.” He paused to catch his breath and lower his voice. He took a step toward her.
(Sebastian and Muriel leaned closer to the window bonking their heads against the glass and throwing them both into a fit of suppressed giggles.)
“It appears we have yet another misunderstanding, Anne. I’m NOT interested in you. ‘Interest’ is the greatest understatement I have ever heard. You are it for me. You are the only one who I will ever love.”
She gasped. “There is no way you could possibly know that.” She said shaking her head, eyes wide and searching for words.
“Yes, Anne, there is and I do. Do not tell me what I think. I know I’ve hurt you and I don’t expect you to forgive me, but please just consider what I’ve just told you.”
She stared at him, straight faced. He could not read what was happening behind her eyes. “I’ve considered it, and there are absolutely no words to describe how I feel about you right now.” She stuck out her hand. “Truce?”
(“What the…? That is disappointing. Be a man Blythe! Make a move!” Sebastian encouraged, Muriel playfully punched his arm. “Be patient Bash, it’s not over.”)
Gilbert laughed, and took her hand. He spelled it out slowly to maintain the physical contact he was granted “T. R. U. C.” He didn’t get to the E. She pulled him toward her, let go and reached her hands up behind his neck, pulling him to her for a kiss, oblivious to the fact that she had no idea what she was doing. Initially stunned, he didn’t respond and she backed away.
“What are you doing?” he asked, breathlessly.
“I’m sorry if you found that too forward.” She took a deep breath, fortifying herself, and looked up at him, “I love you, Gilbert.”
“No, you misunderstand. Why did you stop?” He pulled her to him deepening their kiss and experiencing so many feelings he never had before. After years marred with sadness, anger and frustration, finally, tears of joy.
(Sebastian and Miss Stacy were silently screaming while jumping up and down in the house, not believing what they were seeing, indulging in the exuberance of young love.)
“Wait!” She pulled away, “You were going to propose today? What happened?”
“Stop talking and kiss me.”
(“Ugh, stop talking and kiss him!” Muriel whispered.
“Anne-girl, shut your mouth! Kiss him!” Sebastian said, a bit too loudly.)
“Gilbert Blythe! Answer me!”
He reluctantly removed his hands from her waist and placed them in his pockets. “I happened to sit by Diana’s Aunt Jo on the train. She reminded me that I should marry for love, reinforcing the advice Mary shared with me shorty before she passed. Only love. Winnie doesn’t love me and I don’t love her, but I told her I cared for her enough to know she deserves a loving marriage, not a life as someone’s second choice.”
“And she was fine with that?” What an amazing woman, she truly is.
“She said she appreciated my honesty. I hope she was being truthful. And I will write to her family, apologizing for everything. Hopefully they can forgive me, but if not, I understand.”
He found himself playing with her pen. He smiled, an idea forming in his mind.
“I’m sorry, I took this from you.”
“Oh thank you! I’ll have you know you nearly prevented me from taking the exams because I didn’t have anything to write with!”
“I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to take it!” I’m an idiot. Why didn’t I have my own pen that day anyway? I was at study group… without anything to write with? Sebastian is right. I’m a moke.
Surprise at his earnest and honest apology, she laughed. “Gilbert, it’s fine. I was able to borrow a pencil.”
She took the pen from him.
“There’s something stuck on the clip.”
“Yes there is, but it’s just as well, it’s yours anyway.”
“I have never seen this before in my life, this is…” she began breathing faster. “Gilbert Blythe is this your mother’s ring?” Gilbert, up until this point, was unaware that it was possible to both whisper and yell at the same time.
“It used to be, a long time ago. But it’s been yours since you hit me with that slate.”
“Wha- what? What is happening?” She was breathing heavy, not sure what to do. Oh my God, this is it, this is how I’m going to die. I can’t breathe. Breathing is not a hard thing to do! I’m outside! Where is all the air?
“Anne, will you please share your life with me?” She was staring at the pen like it was from another world, truly not comprehending what was happening.
“Wha- what?” She looked around for something to steady herself on. But the only thing near her was Gilbert. Standing strong and tall, looking at her with the sincerest and most certain eyes she had ever seen. She grabbed onto his arms and immediately felt better. Calm. Assured.
He took her hands, “Please, Anne. Will you please marry me.”
She took a deep breath. I am strong. I am intelligent. I am unique and deserving of love. Stunned into silence, tears streaming down her face, all she could utter was a whispered “Yes.” He took the pen from her hand, finally dislodging the ring, put in on her finger and kissed her again, like she was the only thing that mattered, because she was.
Muriel and Sebastian let them be for about ten seconds until they could contain their excitement no longer. There was an eruption of noise from the house and Gilbert and Anne jumped apart, only now remembering that there were others in the house. Both smiling like idiots, they were enveloped in hugs, tears and more love than they could imagine.
Anne stopped them suddenly, “Gilbert- did you ask Matthew and Marilla?”
“Umm, no. No, I didn’t.”
“What were you thinking?!?”
“I was thinking yours is the only opinion that matters to me!” They were both yelling now, again. Sebastian and Muriel stepped back to give them some room.
“You can't just ignore them! There is a proper way to do these things!
“When did YOU start caring about propriety? And I didn't think I was going to see you until TOMORROW!"
“That is no excuse!!! What is the matter with-”
And he kissed her again, deeply. His arm wrapped around her waist and his other hand cradled her head. Anne reached her arms up and rested them around his neck. This lasted for an uncomfortably long period of time. For the observers anyway. Muriel and Sebastian continually cleared their throats all the while in joking defiance of their behavior. Their objections went unheard.
“You were saying?” Gilbert said quietly as he rested his forehead against hers.
She cleared her throat, “I, um, I don’t remember.” Clearly flustered at the position he just put her in.
“Exactly.” He whispered in her ear before releasing her and turning to walk toward the house.
He passed Bash and Miss Stacy on his way in. He nodded and raised his eyebrows in victory. “It took three years, but I finally figured out how to win an argument with her,” he said proudly, speaking loudly to be sure Anne heard. He turned after climbing the stairs and leaned casually against the post while smoothly grabbing an apple off the railing. "And Anne? Engagement? I forgot the E on purpose." He tossed her the apple and smiled to himself as he walked into the house, finally feeling like the man his father raised him to be. Sebastian and Muriel laughed but did so quietly as not to upset Anne. No need, she was already furious.
She had caught the apple. “Gilbert Blythe! I will kill you with my bare hands!!!” She chased after him, up the porch steps and into the house.