She had looked so like his Anne-- the one with flowers mischievously poking out of her braided, red hair-- and so unlike his Anne, Gilbert mused as he sat with his face pressed against the cold glass of the moving train. He had scarcely a moment to drink her in, this new creature his Anne had seemingly become overnight, before he was being torn from her arms, en route to Toronto. He would write to her and she to him, they had frantically swore as he clasped her hands in his own. Now, his hands felt strangely bereft. The absence of Anne was more acute than when he was a boy on that boat running away from Avonlea.
Then, he had only thought of her when all was quiet on the bustling boat. He wondered after her, if she was well or about whatever scheme she might have concocted that day, but when the boat lurched or one of the men startled, Gilbert was always torn from thoughts of Anne Shirley-Cuthbert. He knew now he could never not think of her, again. She would hover in his thoughts like some kind of angel, or sweet siren, calling him back to the Island.
Gilbert concealed the smile that threatened his features behind his fist.
He had kissed Anne. His Anne with an E.
She had thrown her arms around him, gently touching his face with the soft pad of her finger, and kissed him with a restrained passion he himself did not possess. His girl was a whistling storm that quieted under the insistent nature of his kiss. He calmed her rocky seas and she dared disrupt his own oceans.
Gilbert glanced out the window. The countryside whipped past him in early-Autumn vibrancy. The leaves were beginning to shift to the deep red in patches across the green landscape. Anne would be everywhere, now that he was gone from her, halfway across the country to Toronto.
He tried not to mope. Instead, he kept his eyes on the stretched out sea of green and red.
His mother’s ring burned in his pocket.
His boarding house in Toronto was quaint but eerily quiet in the first year of study. In truth, Gilbert had grown up in the thick bustle of Anne Shirley-Cuthbert’s vivid imagination. The Avonlea of his childhood transformed into some other gorgeous, infinite place when she arrived. Everything that once seemed impossible became within reach when she first slammed her slate over his poor, unsuspecting head.
The other first year medical students did not share his Anne’s exuberance for—everything. The trees and the wind and the humming birds and the children’s choir at Church and the vast library on campus did not seem to excite them. Life, Gilbert was beginning to suspect, was a boring affair in lieu of an Anne.
Luckily, he had one of his own.
He could not write her fast enough in the first few lonely months without her. He posted letters quicker than he could pen them.
Gilbert kept all of her amused responses in a wooden box beside his bed. He kept his mother’s modest green ring in it, too.
And late at night, when he missed her the most keenly, he would light a candle and read her letters.
I look like my mother. My sweet Marilla found a book that belonged to my parents. It is a book of flowers. It sits beside my bed along with the well-read copy of your letter from Trinidad, Matthew’s charm bracelet and Diana’s locket. It brings me comfort to have the people I love most dearly close to my heart.
I did not think it was possibly to miss someone so fiercely. You have been gone scarcely a day and I miss you.
I think I would miss you if you were gone for a minute, or an hour, or a year. Come home to me, someday, Gilbert Blythe.
I hope Toronto is treating you kindly.
PS. If it would not be an imposition, please tell me how you love me. I long to read it.
Enclosed is a lock of my hair. As I said in my last letter, it is turning a rich auburn! Mrs. Blackmore says young men find auburn hair far more preferable than red. I told her the particular young gentlemen in my life loved me with no hair at all. She was rather puzzled. Diana laughed for an age.
I am still planning to visit Toronto in two weeks’ time. I already know you are worried about the length of my journey. I will be fine. As you may recall, I don’t need a chaperone.
Please refrain from kissing me at the station, this time. You are want to get carried away with yourself, Mr. Blythe. I won’t have it.
All my love,
PS. Please kiss me at the station and never stop.
B ash came to visit me this last weekend. Delphine is getting so big! Bash went so far as to suggest Delphine might love you more than I do. However, I have it on good authority that I am scandalously in love with you. I hope you are not too alarmed. I am afraid there is nothing for it. You will simply have to endure my never-ending affection.
PS. I found your glove under my bed last week. I cannot imagine how it came to find itself in my room. As you know, the boarding house has very strict rules about suitors.
He pressed her latest letter against his mouth and smiled.
He was quietly grateful that she had located his glove. After he returned to Toronto from his visit to Charlottestown, he had turned his entire room over in search of his missing glove. It was a comfort to know it was found and in such good care.
Gilbert laid back against his pillow and mused on the subject of his glove. He well recalled when it had been lost and how. His smile deepened.
When he penned his next letter, his smile was stubbornly still in place. He dipped his pen:
My Anne with an e,
How fortunate my glove is to have such a gracious host....