By Liv

October 19th, 1899

 

My dear Anne, 

 

While I can’t say that I’ve ever heard anything about certain days on the calendar bringing an inordinate amount of bad luck, I did hear my fair share of superstitions while working aboard the Primrose. At times it felt like you could hardly walk two steps without doing something that would induce bad luck, and it seems to me that sailors are the most superstitious lot of all. Though it would take sheaves upon sheaves of paper to list out all of the things you must be wary of when working on a ship, I will include a few of my personal favourites just to give you a sampling of what I endured while shovelling coal: stirring your tea with a knife or fork (though I can’t possibly imagine why someone would want to do that in the first place), personal grooming such as cutting fingernails or trimming one's beard while on board (not that this was a particular issue for me), whistling or singing into the wind (this did get me into trouble more than once, but what better ways are there to pass the time than by singing?), and my personal favourite: redheads. Apparently, redheads bring the most horrible of luck to voyages; though for me it has seemed that one particular redhead (my favourite one, I must say) has only brought joy and excitement into my life, so I must respectfully disagree with that particular superstition. 

 

It certainly sounds like you are having a very eventful time at Queen’s, though that comes as no surprise. You’ve always had a penchant for seeking adventure in whatever form it could take on, and adventure you have found! 

While it certainly pains my heart hearing of your unfortunate run-in with that malicious dryad in your Faerie Glen and the resulting injury, I must also admit that I did get a chuckle from your tale. I can just imagine you now, your head in the clouds and your skirts swishing determinedly as you march forth to your class, only to come face to face with such a dastardly branch. You must show me the exact branch that struck you when I am next in Charlottetown, and I will surely avenge you for this grievance. And while we’re at it, you could also share with me the beauty of this Glen. Perhaps if we sit still and quiet for long enough, the fae will come out and dance around us in the ethereal majesty of the forest. I certainly would like to bask in the magic you always seem to hide in the most mundane of spaces. 

Since you shared your little blunder with me, I feel like it is only fair to share my own with you as well. While your little incident left quite a visible mark, you were fortunate to have been alone. I, on the other hand, had the opposite experience. You see, yesterday as I was walking briskly through campus in order to make it to the cafeteria before lunch was done being served, I just so happened to hit a patch of wet leaves on the sidewalk and fell quite spectacularly on my rear end in front of God and everyone. To make matters worse, a few of the older members of the University Club just so happened to be walking by as well and saw the whole thing. They certainly got a good laugh out of my plight, and while my tailbone was slightly bruised after the incident, my ego is much more so⁠—I know for sure that my little slip will be poked at for weeks and weeks to come. 

I suppose I’ll just have to endure their teasing because, despite it, I have enjoyed myself greatly with the Club thus far. It’s been nice, having a place to find scholarly, like-minded individuals, and I believe it has helped make the transition an altogether smoother one than it might have been had I not been invited to join. I’ve been hearing whispers about some sort of initiation ceremony that will be happening at the end of the semester, and I can only imagine what that could entail. Do you have any ideas in that wonderful imagination of yours of what such an event could hold? Regardless of the initiation and the endless potential there, I’m happy to say that Stephen, the man I mentioned in my last letter, has become a good friend to me since we met at the meeting a few weeks ago. I introduced him to Ben when he came to my dorm to study, and the three of us have become quite the trio. It’s certainly nice to have formed a little group so soon? into the semester, and I look forward to adding to our troupe as our careers here at U of T continue. 

Congratulations on your acquisition of your club advisor! You certainly made an impression on this professor of yours, whether it be because of the goose egg in the middle of your forehead or the verbal lashing you gave that bigoted cad in your class. Perhaps you could report him to some judicial board within the school, and if the administration will not do anything about his horribly insensitive and hateful comments towards the Indigenous population, at the very least you could report him for the threatening remarks and behaviour towards you. It makes me blood boil knowing that he said such terrible things to you, but it also gives me the deepest sense of pride hearing of how you told him off. I would have paid good money to have been there and witness the event. It also makes me proud to hear of your hopes and dreams of change for the ignored and unheard of our society. If there is anyone who can draw people in and make them listen where they might not have before, it’s you, Anne. You will be in my prayers every night and every morning as you begin this undertaking, and I wish you the best of luck. Will you please keep me updated as things progress? Spare no detail in how your first meeting goes, and if you can spare a flyer, I would love for you to enclose it in your next letter so that I might get a glimpse of your latest pursuit. 

Moving onto the subject of our feline friends: I could think of few better things than a fat, orange tabby cat lazing away in the sun. Perhaps we could name the cat after a certain orange root vegetable that I happen to be fond of? (Have fun trying to hit me with a slate in a different province! Ha!) 

Fall in Toronto isn’t nearly as magical as it is in Avonlea, unfortunately. Being the big city that it is, there are more towering buildings than trees, and while there are several spots of greenery around campus and in parks around the city, more often than not the landscape is painfully grey. I do enjoy taking walks through the parks to see the leaves changing colours; the trees, though few in number, are the most brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow. It looks as if the world is on fire around you as you stroll underneath them, and the parks are some of the few places one can get away from the hustle and bustle of the city to take in the smell of fall and fresh earth. While I do enjoy the fast-paced tempo of the big city a great deal, it makes me miss Avonlea horribly knowing that the beauty of the park is only a pale substitute to what the orchard looks like this time of year. It will surely be a good long while before I experience autumn in Avonlea again, so for now I’ll settle with my strolls through the park to get my fill of autumnal beauty. 

Do you know what else I think of when I see the fiery colours of the changing flora? None other than you, my sweet Anne. I see you and that radiant hair of yours in every changing tree, in every flutter of wind through their branches. I think of that night at the ruins after the Queen’s entrance exams, and how you looked positively gorgeous as you danced in the firelight, your hair burning just as bright as the bonfire. Truthfully, I could spend pages upon pages waxing poetic about how downright gorgeous I think your hair is, but out of fear of making the envelope too full to close, I’ll summarize my thoughts: I positively love your vibrant red hair, and seeing its likeness in the trees only makes me miss you more and more. 

 

You occupy my thoughts near constantly, and while the classes are much more rigorous than they were in Avonlea, like you I desperately miss having someone to go toe to toe with. You kept me sharp, always looking for a different angle or perspective that I could use to challenge. I will admit that I didn’t always firmly believe in the arguments I made; it simply brought me endless amusement to play devil’s advocate with you. I lived for the moments that you would turn around, cheeks pink and eyes blazing as you carefully crafted a scathing retort to my foolishness. Did you know that when you’re vexed, the most adorable little crinkle makes an appearance in between your eyebrows? I certainly noticed it and may or may not have made a few contrary statements just so that little crinkle would come out for a visit. (I hope it doesn’t make you cross knowing that I was intentionally antagonistic with you... most of the time I don’t believe I was even aware that I was doing it. Please take pity on me now, my dear!) 

I meant every word of what I said to Matthew and Marilla, and I will say it again. You, Anne Shirley-Cuthbert, are the woman whom my heart beats to and for. It always has and it always will belong to you. I should have called the constable a long time ago to report the theft of my heart and soul, but I always knew exactly who had stolen it and exactly where to find you. I also knew that I didn’t want it back. All I wanted was for you to return my affections and share your heart with me the same way I freely gave mine away to you. I can promise with full certainty that I will treasure and protect your heart with every ounce of my being for as long as you’ll have me. 

In regard to our potential stargazing, I can’t say that the idea of meeting in the domain of queens (I at Queen’s Park and you at Queen’s Academy) to sit underneath the same sky as if we were side by side doesn’t sound like the stuff of novels. If we were to do such a thing, would you promise me that you would bundle up? (And for goodness sake, if it’s raining or somehow snowing, please don’t go! I know you well enough to know that nothing would keep you from meeting me underneath the stars, but it would make me feel absolutely wretched if you took ill from sitting in the rain and cold.) Also, please tell someone before you go, even if it is just Diana or one of the other girls. That way they will know where you have gone and when to expect you back, and it would put my mind at ease not worrying about your safety as we go about this romantic endeavour. That being said, how does the 1st of November sound? This letter should arrive with plenty of time for you to prepare, and hopefully, it won’t be too frightfully cold outside. (and if it is, perhaps you should take two blankets: one to lay on and another to wrap yourself in.) 

While I look forward to our stargazing, I must say that while the splendour of the universe is truly something to behold, it will always be a cheap substitute to the galaxy you have on the apples of your cheeks and across the bridge of your nose. I would much rather spend an evening mapping out the constellations hidden around the curve of your smile and in the crinkles around your eyes when you laugh, as I’m sure the discoveries that could be made are innumerable, the possibilities infinite. Would you allow me to find these formations hidden in your freckles? I truly think I could spend hours doing so and would never find myself bored of the task. For now though, it seems like I will have to lie in Queen’s Park and hope that it is sufficient. 

As Thanksgiving approaches, my longing to see you grows exponentially. This comes as no surprise to me; of course I would want to spend a day devoted to gratitude with the person I am most thankful for. (Don’t tell Bash, he’d be green with envy, I’m sure!) I am also reflecting on other areas of gratitude, such as the health and safety of my family in Avonlea, the prosperous harvest we had, and my smooth transition to the University, but I would be lying if I said any of things were more important to me than you. You, Anne, possess my deepest measure of gratitude this year, and undoubtedly for years to come. I only wish I could be there with you to tell you this in person. 

How are you spending your Thanksgiving this year? Surely you have a great many things that you are grateful for, and I would love to hear every last one of them. If you do make it home for the holiday, could you send your family my love and thankfulness for them? Matthew and Marilla have done a great deal for me since my father passed away, and I want them to know that I appreciate them and their efforts more than they will ever know.

I miss you more than words could possibly capture, and I eagerly await to hear from you again as you recount all of the adventures that you find yourself thrust into headfirst. Until then, I hope to meet you as the lovers you imagined: tucked away in the safety and splendour of a dream. Will you meet me there as well? I hope so. 

 

Until then and forever yours, 

Gilbert Blythe

© 2020 by ANNE NATION