September 28th, 1899

 

Dearest Marilla,

Forgive my written correspondence; I would have visited you in person but my Thomas has been struck down with gout and I can’t bear to be parted from him. He has a fondness for your currant wine—not that I am blaming you for continuing to produce such a product— it is a potent elixir. The poor dear has such a weak appetite as you well know, it puzzles me to think of an alternative cause for his ailment.

Oh Marilla, have you heard the news? Mrs. Barry is hosting a tea party for the ladies of Avonlea. She plans to serve English tea. Imagine, her majesty’s favourite on our little island! Mrs. Barry is a gem. Did you hear she is redecorating Diana’s room in a periwinkle blue? I always knew William Barry did well by marrying her. If I recall correctly, you were heavily set against the match. “Outsiders interfering in Avonlea business,” you said. You do have a tendency to be closed-minded, Marilla dear. It is quite unbecoming. 

Diana Barry is well. I was ever so glad to hear of her following Anne to Queen’s Academy. She is a grounding force that Anne requires to stay on track. A bit like myself, where our relationship is concerned. Mrs. Barry hopes Diana will find a suitor when her education is complete. I got the distinct impression she only let her attend Queen’s to appease Ms. Josephine Barry. I dare say Mr. Barry fears being omitted from his aunt’s inheritance. I do hope Diana follows her mother’s lead and marries well. I hold out little hope for that Minnie May. She has a wild streak. I dread to think where she might end up. A shopkeeper, perhaps? Or, heaven forbid, an actress!

Speaking of closed-minded people, I ran into Mrs. Andrews while in town last week. She was mailing letters to Jane and Prissy. Of course, she pretended not to see me. Well, I never! Billy Andrews has been cavorting about town like he owns the place since his peers left. I heard he has his sight set on the mayor’s daughter in Halifax. I pray the girl has more sense. Harmon Andrews may have more money than us regular folk, but his family lacks class. I daresay he will sell his daughters to the highest bidder given the chance. Mark my words!

Muriel sends her regards. She misses her young protégés. School isn’t the same without Anne to keep her on her toes. She didn’t say so in so many words, but I think Anne was her favourite in the class. When I think of how badly I treated that poor woman upon her arrival in Avonlea... Oh, Marilla, why didn’t you stop me? “The past is the past,” Muriel says. 

She has a good heart, our Miss Stacy. She has been teaching me how to fix the mangle. The blasted thing is forever jamming. She thinks it won’t be long until electricity runs all household machinery. How I long for that day! To think we were so set against the idea of electricity in the beginning. Muriel plans to pay you a visit. She’s heard of young Jerry’s lessons with Anne and Matthew and longs to help. I said you would be only too delighted to do your Christian duty by the boy. 

Truth be told Marilla, I have been putting off my true reason for this correspondence. As you know, I am not one to stick my nose in where it’s not wanted; however, it has been brought to my attention that Anne has been frolicking around Charlottetown with none other than Gilbert Blythe. I was shocked to hear such sordid gossip. Anne has always been a spirited girl, but my word! I am only sorry that it is I who must convey the news to you. 

It appears Gilbert leaped off a moving train to declare his feelings for Anne. Mr. Barry had to follow with his abandoned luggage! Can you picture our future doctor doing such a thing? I always thought Gilbert Blythe to be a sensible sort of fellow. I fear I was mistaken. As for Anne, I have it on good authority she ran through town with her undergarments on show for all P.E.I to see! I don’t know how you feel about such a squalid display, but I can assure you that it is not the behaviour of a girl in possession of her right mind. Rumour has it she has been bewitched. Others say it was she who cast a spell over the boy. I am not one to judge but such sorcery is very unbecoming of a young lady. 

I have a good mind to write to Sebastian Lacroix in order to gauge Gilbert’s intentions. Such a bold display of affection will bring disgrace upon your family’s good name, Marilla. What would John Blythe—God rest his soul—have said of such shenanigans? Though now I think on it, didn’t he ask you to leave Avonlea with him? I guess such behaviour runs deep in the Blythe bloodline. The poor boy was cursed from birth. 

As for Anne, I find myself in a moral quandary. The greater part of me believes it is my duty as her godmother (a role I've bestowed upon myself as your dearest friend) in life to write and tell her to harness the same zest she has for life into her courtship. Talks of marriage will be soon on the horizon. Another part of me is considering presenting her with my copy of Manners for Women by C.E. Humphries. I hope she would find the author to be a kindred spirit and may take her advice on board if she does not heed mine. 

What are your thoughts on the situation? It is a fine predicament, make no mistake about it. I had hoped Anne had put such romantic notions behind her. It appears Gilbert has only strengthened them by his actions. Oh, Marilla, what will Mrs. Gillis say?  I do believe she had her heart set on Ruby marrying Gilbert. How will she show her face in church on Sunday now that this news is out? I wonder if I should stop by and offer her some words of comfort. What do you think?

Send Matthew my regards. Please inform him that the Ladies’Aid Society is holding a fundraising concert to aid that poor family in Manitoba. The Morning Chronicle speaks of little else since July. After Matthew’s performance at Christmas a few years ago, he is just the man to play the parson’s cat. Marilla, those poor children will be fit for nothing but the poor house unless their father remarries shortly. To think they welcomed Hilda Blake into their household out of Christian charity! When I think of Anne’s sad beginnings in life, it does my soul a disservice to hear of other children facing a similar fate; though it may be unavoidable if funds cannot be raised in time. I felt it was my duty to extend the hand of charity to those in need. I daresay Anne would be proud. Perhaps I will include it in my letter when I next write to her, I do miss our little debates.

Please let me know what you intend to do regarding the situation. I await your correspondence with bated breath.

Your true friend,

Rachel Lynde

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