November 27, 1899

My Little Firecracker,

 

I feel as though it is only fair to tell you that your letter caused me to earn many suspicious looks during my break between classes. I received it this morning and was so thrilled by the prospect of hearing from you that I tucked your letter into my book bag to read as soon as possible. After Biology I was able to steal away to my favourite tree in the park to read it and the mental image of you thwacking Roy Gardner into the 20th century caused me to explode in laughter, earning many curious looks. I may have to avoid my prized outdoor study spot for a while to protect what small bit of dignity I still have. 

 

My dear, I don’t know if I can properly express to you how much I needed to hear that story. Classes have been a drag lately if I’m being completely honest. I like the content, but the level of detail my professors require us to memorize is obscene! I’m fairly certain they think we are to be human encyclopedias rather than professionals with access to reference materials. Preparing for the next round of exams has been taxing, so hearing of your antics was just what I needed. I wish I could say I was completely surprised by your outburst, but unfortunately, my right cheek knows all too intimately what it’s like to be on the receiving end of an Anne Shirley-Cuthbert attack. I just ask that you do not fall in love with this man since I know that’s what happened the last time you reacted in such a manner. Let’s not make it a pattern, eh? 

 

In all honesty, though, I hope you know that I am not upset at all by your actions. Well, aside from the disappointment of missing the joy that comes from watching you be unabashedly yourself. Weaker men would try to subdue your passion, but I love you even more for it. I would never dream of asking you to contain yourself to abide by society’s antiquated ideas of what it means to be a woman. I love you for your passion and intelligence and the fact that you do not let anyone get away with treating others poorly. Roy Gardner did not know who he was dealing with. I hope he wisens up quickly, but if not, then I hope I will be able to witness your next exchange myself rather than just hearing about it after the fact. 

You are brilliant when acting according to your convictions. I know you can handle things yourself, but I look forward to standing beside you and providing you with whatever assistance you may need from me for as long as you’ll allow. I understand that going to separate schools was unavoidable, but oh how I wish I could be with you at times like this. You don’t need me to fight your battles for you, but I often think about how different things would be if I could help you with them, to support you in your endeavours and provide whatever cover you might need when a young woman’s actions are questioned by society. I hate that I could do the same things and receive significantly less criticism. It is unfair by any and all standards, but I think we could come up with some great ways to make good changes together regardless. I look forward to the days when we are able to be together all the time and can begin functioning as a true team, a team of equals who work for change from a foundation of love and equal respect. This may be modern thinking, but I cannot imagine any other way to live with you by my side. 

 

I am excited to hear that you have befriended the librarian, Mrs. Walker. I too have recently befriended a bibliophile here in Toronto. You probably recall I spent Thanksgiving with the Oaks last month, but I also attended a special American Thanksgiving dinner a few days ago held by Alfred Murray, an alumnus of The University Club who married an American woman from upstate New York. They host a dinner to celebrate Thanksgiving each year in November and invite the boys from the club to their home. I was wandering around their main floor after dinner and was thrilled to discover a library that rivals the one you’ve described at Aunt Jo’s behind one of the doors! It had floor-to-ceiling bookcases with sliding ladders as well as one of the largest fireplaces I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t help but explore, completely entranced by such a hidden gem in such a luxurious home. Upon further inspection, I found that the room also contained a balcony connected to the second level corridor from which you could look into the library and many nooks and crannies to read in that were hidden by curtains and filled with comfortable chairs. There was also a beautiful bay window overlooking the garden that I think you would’ve particularly enjoyed curling up in to read on a chilly winter day, sunning yourself like a cat despite the chill outside. 

I was daydreaming while gazing out that window when I heard someone clear their throat behind me and I turned to see that Alfred himself had caught me red-handed snooping in his library. I thought for sure that I would be scolded for wandering off from the party. Instead, he simply asked me what I was thinking about so intently. I told him about you, how I knew you’d love this library, and inevitably how thinking these things made me miss you fiercely. He simply smiled and told me all about how he met his wife, Annette, when he was our age and how this library is mostly for her as she has loved books her entire life. He said I am welcome to visit whenever I please and to borrow whichever books I’d like. I can’t believe my luck! I may begin using this as an occasional study location when the university library becomes too full. He seemed genuine about the offer. 

 

Al (he asked me to call him Al, can you believe it?) mentioned that their grandchildren all live in the U.S. or in other provinces, so they need more young people to visit to keep them company in lieu of visiting grandchildren. Considering I do not have any grandparents to visit myself, this could be a beneficial friendship for the both of us. Maybe they’ll be to me what Aunt Jo has become to you. I hope we are both so fortunate. Perhaps you’ll be able to visit with me sometime when you come here so you can meet them and see their home for yourself. It is stunning. 

I can’t wait to come home and see you for Christmas. As the chill gets more intense here each day and the snow becomes more frequent I can’t help but wonder how Bash is doing back in Avonlea. He never has liked the cold. I hope after a few years he’s adjusted a little more, but those Trinidadians do love their heat! I hope Hazel has enough sweaters…I should write Marilla to have her check in to make sure Hazel doesn’t freeze as badly as Bash did his first winter here in Canada. I would assume Dellie has been taken care of well enough by all the women in her life. We are so blessed to have such a patchwork of family, aren’t we? It is one of the things I miss the most when I’m away at school. It will be so lovely to have you and all the people we love in one place again for a short while. 

 

Please tell me more about this Winter Dance you’re preparing for. I’m sure finding dresses and all the proper accessories is a fun adventure for you all. I cannot wait to hear all about it. I will try my best to come. I have not yet had the pleasure of escorting you to an event and I am thrilled at the prospect of showing off my love to all of Charlottetown. It took us a long time to get here, but I know that we will have many similar chances to dance the night away in the future. I have no intention of finding any other women to escort to occasions such as these. You are my preferred date forever, so I hope you’re okay with that. It is you or bachelorhood. There is no other option. I cannot wait to be by your side as you dazzle everyone you encounter, no one more so than myself. You are a vision, Anne and I am so proud to call you mine. 

 

I have not planned much for Christmas break as I figured you have probably dreamed up enough activities for us to fill five of them! I look forward to hearing about what you wish to do with our time in Avonlea. I have some ideas, but anything is made better when you’re with me, so I’m not particularly worried about how exactly we fill our time as long as you’re there. I know that our education is important and this time apart will serve us well to build our future together, but that does not mean that it is not hard at times. I have always cherished the time we get to spend together and look forward to spending every spare moment with you when we’re home. Hopefully we’ll be able to sneak off for some time on our own as well. It will be tricky, but we’re both incredibly intelligent and clever people, so I think we can do it! 

Your plan for Dellie’s gift sounds perfect. I can get her something from here as well if you’d like. If you have any ideas please let me know. I’d be more than happy to pick it up. Maybe a treat or something of the sort? I’m not nearly as good at gifts as you are, so I am so happy that we are on the same team for this part now! 

 

My class begins soon, so I should wrap this up and drop it off at the post office on campus before I miss the last delivery of the day. I love you so much Anne, and I can’t wait to board the first train to Bright River immediately after I finish in my last exam. Please study hard and watch out for arrogant men who accost you in your precious corners of the library. I will be more than happy to travel to Charlottetown and deal with them myself if you are unable to handle the job for some reason. I don't foresee that being an issue, but the offer still stands. I am nothing if not a reliable sidekick to my best girl. 

All my love,

 

Gilbert

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