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Of Long Ago: A Blythe/Meredith/Ford Fanfiction story

Prologue: The Old Days

"Catch me if you can!"

That was the phrase that always sent Shirley Blythe and Carl Meredith running after young Rilla Blythe. It was their game—the "Catch Rilla" game. Those three were the youngest of all the Blythes, Merediths, and Fords and closely bonded. Rilla was the "bright and stubborn one", Shirley the "brown boy", Susan Baker's favorite, being the one who took after his father, Gilbert Blythe, in matters of character—quiet, studious, and hardy, but not as Walter Blythe. Carl Meredith, on the other hand, was the "half bug, half mouse" as his sister Faith called it. Rilla was the only girl around the Glen who was not scared of Carl's pranks with his mice and beetles—but she "drew a hard and fast line at snakes." In truth, "Rilla" was only her nickname. Her full name was Bertha Marilla Blythe. Even at the age of nine, she still called herself "Willa", with that everlasting lisp of hers that would repeatedly come back in later years, in those dark days of war… but as for now, they were young happy children, without a care for the world, running free in Rainbow Valley, which would be Rilla's place of solitude only six short years later…

Rilla loved the feeling of wind against her face, whipping up those white skirts, the only color that suited her perfectly, being chased (laughing) around the 12-acre grove of maples Walter, the poet, named Rainbow Valley one day when it had just rained and the Blythes and Merediths were playing the garret…the sun suddenly shone out bright and strong, and a vivid rainbow appeared out of nowhere…ending right where the "Rainbow Brook" was in the Valley! And right then and there, Walter named it "Rainbow Valley." It would become, in later years, the place the heartbroken girls, Nan, Di, Rilla, Faith Meredith, Una Meredith, and even Persis Ford would find solitude from all the news of the bloodshed in France, the place where they could escape to be alone with God. But it was not for now. They were innocent girls in the stage of "growing up." Anne and Diana, those strikingly different twins, always called Nan and Di, were to go to Queen's next year. Jerry Meredith already was" making sheep's eyes" at Nan! And Rilla—oh, she didn't care. It would be several years yet! Faith Meredith, just starting Queen's, they could all see, was in love with Jem Blythe (half-way through Queen's). And they knew Jem was showing interest in "Rosamund"—as Walter wrote in his many and varied poems. Una Meredith was "shy, sweet, and not pretty," as Miss. Cornelia—or Mrs. Marshall Elliot—told Anne Blythe when the Merediths had just come from Maywater to the Glen St. Mary. It was amazing how different the Meredith girls were in personality—Faith was the bright, beautiful, sunny, laughing one, the beauty of the Glen, and admired by all eligible boys. Una was the reserved, quiet, sweet, gentle, compassionate, kind, dark-haired one. And only Rilla, in the later days, ever realized that Una held a secret liking for—Walter Blythe. But for now, there was absolutely no thought of marriage for any of them. And Persis Ford. She was once called by Di "as pretty as a picture!" And she was—with the long, wavy golden hair and darkish-blue "pools of water"—which is what Kenneth said about his sister, describing Persis to some army comrades. But that was all "of long ago…"

They now lived in a time of war, of darkness, of days on end without news or hope from the everlasting WAR IN FRANCE.

Their lives would forever be changed, when their "boys" left for war, Jem and Jerry in 1914, Walter in 1915, Ken in 1916, and Shirley and Carl in 1917.

Once, Walter wrote a poem—a poem that changed the world, not just the Glen. It was called "The Piper."

But Walter was gone—never to return any longer.

Jem was reported "wounded and missing."

Jerry Meredith—wounded at Vimy Ridge.

Carl and Shirley and Ken—and the thousands of other men—still fighting desperately in the trenches of France.

Nan and Di teaching.

Faith Meredith in France.

Persis Ford in Toronto.

Rilla and Una Meredith were the only ones holding the home fort.