The cold morning light was piercing the thin curtain, but Anne kept her eyes squeezed tightly shut. "I am going to be a princess today," she said to herself determinedly. "I am going to be Princess Araminta of – " her geography failed her – "Morania."
Anne held herself still for a few precious seconds more, then slipped out of her rickety old bed and went over to the washstand. Shivering in her cheap nightdress, she found it impossible to maintain her vanity.
"Anne-in-the-mirror," she said darkly, "I don't think you can be a princess. No princess ever had hair that colour."
"Wouldn't it be lovely," Anne said pensively one lazy afternoon, "if we could go to Queen's and come back here forever?"
"That's what you're going to do," Diana reminded her sleepily.
"No," said Anne. "If we could go together, and come back together, and teach school together."
"But we couldn't get married together," Diana said prosaically. "That would be silly."
"We wouldn't marry," Anne said. "If we shared our money, we might be able to rent the cottage down at the end of Lovers' Lane. The Kimballs would let it to us, I'm sure."
"Not marry?" Diana shifted onto her side to look curiously at Anne. "What about melancholy strangers and so on?"
"Oh!" Anne laughed, a little queerly. "Some dreams are so unlikely to come right, my dearest."
"We can hope," Diana said, patting her arm. "Don't worry."
Some castles in Spain were not destined to come true. Anne was in possession of that sad fact, but, being of a naturally optimistic disposition, obstinately wished for hers to be made reality. As such, Gilbert Blythe was an utter failure and a constant disappointment as a suitor, being neither melancholy nor a stranger. He was so far from being a stranger, indeed, that he had had the temerity to put his hand over hers.
Anne, for once, was not romancing. In fact, she was quite decidedly not imagining anything at all, having made a spontaneous resolution not to think of Gilbert Blythe for a moment this evening. At a stretch, perhaps, she could be said to be imagining all the things she wasn't imagining, but that of course would be the act of a silly young girl and Anne Shirley was eighteen years old and mature for her age besides.
She was so preoccupied with not thinking of anything that she almost forgot to pack her toothbrush and had to slip out of bed in the night to go and find it. But that was merely an oversight and nothing to do with any distractions.
Anne was certain of two things at the ripe old age of twenty-one: that Roy Gardner was her perfect ideal and that she would marry him. On other matters she was less sure-footed, such as what would happen after their fairy-tale wedding and their honeymoon somewhere romantic.
Even their meeting had been like something out of a novel, with his dashing proffer of an umbrella just when she needed it. If any human living could be truly said to be a Prince Charming, Roy Gardner was that exalted being. Gilbert Blythe, it had to be said, would probably have forgotten his that day and he and Anne would have been reduced to fashioning a makeshift cover out of paper and Gilbert's coat.
Anne, who had always wondered what happened to characters in books after she closed them, was at a loss to imagine what would happen to her after her happy ending. Roy would work under his family's aegis, or in some field which appealed to him, and she was certain that his intelligence and charm would garner him success. She would rejoice in it as her own. Apart from that, her visions of the future were rather vague.
Still, it would be nice to have a husband who always had the security of an umbrella. Even if one wasn't quite sure what to do with him when it wasn't raining.
Some nights Anne woke with a start, her nightdress sticking damply to her back. It would take a moment or two for her to recognise the sound of soft breathing not her own; another moment still to remember where she was and who was the person beside her.
On those nights, she dreamt that she had been dreaming and had woken to find herself in that horrid yellow-brown cotton dress, her childish knees showing beneath the hem, and her hair pulled back into strict, thin plaits. There would be a baby, somewhere – she didn't know where – behind her, perhaps, or weighing heavy in her arms.
There was often a second of disorientation; when she struggled to think whether she was Anne dreaming of herself as a child, or a child dreaming of herself as Anne the blithe of spirit. But it was usually only a moment, before Gilbert half-opened his eyes.
"Bad dreams, Anne-girl?" he murmured.
"Nothing," Anne whispered back. He slid back into sweet sleep; he needed it.
It was impossible for her child self to have dreamt all this, Anne thought. It was comforting, in an odd way. She wouldn't have known enough about happiness to dream of it coming like this.