September 12th, 1899
I can’t even begin to describe the grin that broke out on my face when Dr. Oak handed me the envelope with your writing on the front this afternoon. I agree that it is strange to be talking this way after so many years of tiptoeing around one another, but as I was reading your letter, I could hear you speak every word so clearly it was as though you were in the room with me. It made me miss you terribly, even more than I have been these last several days.
Only you, my dear Anne, would tear up a love letter at the sight of it without reading its contents—I should have known and left you two. I hope you understand that it was never my intention to reject you in any way, and I’m extremely sorry about the miscommunication. Winifred asked that I keep quiet about ending our courtship for a little while, and so I was unable to tell anyone until I ran into Mr. Barry and Diana on the way to Charlottetown. Thank whichever stars that aligned in order for that to happen, and thank Diana Barry for being such a loyal best friend to you and sitting down in front of me on the train with a frown! I shudder to think about how easily you and I would have missed each other if she hadn’t intervened.
It would be a lie to say that I’ve thought of anything but you for most of my first week here in Toronto. The memory of last week repeats in my head often: how beautiful you looked in your blue dress, your freckled face under the sun smiling up at me, how all I could think about was kissing you, even only seconds after I’d just done so.
Truth be told, I never thought it would happen. I was content to spend the rest of my life being your rival if that was all you’d wanted from me, but when Diana told me what I’d missed… I felt my heart jump up into my throat, Anne, and for a terrible moment, I thought I was dreaming or that I’d heard her wrong. It was a thrill to rush through Charlottetown knowing that I was running towards you, and that me going to Toronto hopefully wouldn’t be the last time I ever got to see your face.
Perhaps I’ll repeat the letter I wrote to you in person the next time I see you, and you can tell me what you wrote in yours? I’ll let you know there’s not much that I wrote that hasn’t been, well, spoken in our actions so far, but the gist of it was:
I love you. I love you too. What a privilege it is to write that to you. I love you, I love you, I love you too. I can’t stop smiling as I spell out those words, but I can’t imagine how it will feel when I finally get to say them to you in person.
Diana accused me of being smitten with you ever since you cracked your slate across my cheek, and I know without a doubt that she’s right. Do you remember that fire at the Gillis’ house, the way you rushed in without a second thought in order to help suffocate the flames? I remember how fast my heart beat at the sight of you inside the burning hallway, and when you came out of it unscathed and visited the construction with Ruby the next day, I was panicked that the beating hadn’t stopped, it had only changed. Instead of being from fear it was… a flutter of nervousness and desire for you to look my way. And then I suppose it never really went away. I just got better at pretending that it wasn’t there—until that day with Winifred.
I’m afraid I blundered the entire situation in regards to Winifred. I should have been more honest with myself from the start and known that it was unfair to court her when I loved somebody else, even if I thought my feelings for you were going to stay unrequited.
Before Mary passed, she held my hand and told me that I should only marry for love… when I woke up on the day I was intending to propose to Winifred, there was a weight in my chest and I just knew that it wasn’t right. It was like I could hear Mary in the back of my mind. As I looked down at the ring in my hands, I realized that it wasn’t Winnie that I loved, that it never would be her, that it was always, and would always, be you. All I could think was that I had to let you know, even if you’d hate me forever for it.
Winifred is a lovely girl and I feel awful about what I put her through, but I am glad I didn’t take her into a loveless marriage and a life where my heart would always, truthfully, be with someone else. It would have been unfair and cruel, and she deserves a life full of happiness.
The Sorbonne seemed out of the question without my engagement to Winnie, and anyway, Dr. Oak and Miss Stacy worked hard to get me a late admission into the university here. It’s a wonderful school, more practical than the Sorbonne and with courses in medicine that are just as good. Maybe I’ll somehow end up at the Sorbonne someday (On an, of course, unrelated note: Have you ever wanted to travel to Paris?), but the week I’ve spent in Toronto so far has been absolutely eye-opening. I’m so excited about all the possibilities I have for my future here! Even though Toronto is far from Prince Edward Island, it still feels a little bit like home in a way. It comforts me to know that I’m looking up at the same sky that I have all of my life, that my feet are on the same land as yours, only separated by distance.
Dr. Oak has taken me under her wing without a second thought and I’m endlessly grateful for it. She is extraordinary in her field! Dr. Ward was a generous man to study under, but Dr. Oak is doing research of a kind I’ve never seen before, projects and concepts I could not imagine Dr. Ward would have ever been open to, and she has also offered to help me with my studies whenever needed. She delivered this letter to me with a smile and a wink that made me laugh—I can see why she and Miss Stacy are friends. I think you’d like her too.
About your parents—that’s amazing! How lucky of Matthew and Marilla to find that book! Do you know if your old neighbour has anything else of theirs? Somehow, I’m not surprised to learn that your mother was a teacher and your father an artist. It seems that both of their talents, as well as their creativity, have been with you since the day you were born. And your hair has always been one of the most unique and beautiful parts of you, no matter the length. I’m glad that you now know it comes from a place of love.
I simply can’t imagine how proud both of your parents would be to see you now! Their daughter, who is one of the most intelligent, kind, and brave people this world has ever had the pleasure of knowing, is studying at one of Canada’s most reputable universities after getting top marks in her exams. Although I know that Matthew and Marilla have enough pride and joy in their hearts for you to fill the world, as do I. I haven’t really had the chance to tell you yet, but I’m so proud of you Anne, for all that you’ve done and all that you will do.
The trip from here to Charlottetown will take me most of two days, but I would love to come visit you and see how Queen’s is treating everyone. A mid-term trip might be nice? To be quite honest, I would love to visit as soon as you’ll have me. I know we’ve only been apart for a week, but I miss you—and we have years of miscommunication to catch up on.
You are welcome to come here any time! It’s funny—Toronto is a beautiful place, but all I have done is walk around and picture you everywhere. I want to see what you look like under the city lights at night or at noon among the statues in Queen’s Park… I never told you this, but I used to do that while I was away at sea. Bash would take me to places in Trinidad and sometimes all I could ever think was how much you’d enjoy it there or what food you might like. It brings me so much joy knowing that they won’t be unfulfilled thoughts this time, that you very well will come visit me and we can go around the city like tourists.
How are your studies so far? How is your boarding house, and how are the rest of the girls? What is it like with Diana as your roommate? How is Charlottetown now that you’re living there? Are you settling in alright? I admit I’ve felt a bit homesick—for Bash, Delly, Hazel, and you, for the farm and the whole of Avonlea—but I know it will just make me even happier to see it all when I take my first visit home, especially if you are by my side. After all, I think my home is mostly with you, wherever you are.
Don’t be vexed, Anne, but I couldn’t help but let out a little laugh at your asking whether or not this means we are courting. I cannot speak for your side of things, but I can say that I intend to kiss your face the second I see it next. To make it clear: this is my, Gilbert Blythe’s, official declaration of courting Anne Shirley-Cuthbert, if that pleases her, as it would tremendously, enormously, a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y please me.
I’d like to write Bash soon and tell him about us. I’ve been so happy that I doubt I can hold it in much longer, although I’ll make him promise not to reveal our courting to anyone else just yet. He’ll certainly rub it in my face that he knew you and I would always end up together, I’m sure, but I know he will also be over the moon about it—and Delly will be too!
How do you think Matthew and Marilla will take it? I’m welcome to hold off on speaking to them about it if you think it’s too early, but, to be quite honest, I wouldn’t particularly mind telling the whole world all at once if we had to. The thought of knowing you’re mine brings a smile to my face that’s hard to fight down.
Although, I did hear talk during the last couple months of school that you were sworn to be the bride of adventure. If I have the right, I’d like to contest him for you. What does adventure have next to a boy who dropped everything in his life to get off a train and derail his whole day of travel, just so he could confess to the love of his life, anyway? However, you are the deciding factor in this situation. I am eager to hear your answer.
Write to me soon, won’t you? I can’t wait to learn about Queen’s and everything you are doing in Charlottetown, as well as the adventures of all our old classmates. I miss everyone, but I know I will get to see them all very soon—and you. Especially you.