I loved the Anne of Green Gables series, but was saddened/disappointed with Anne’s lack of writing opportunities later in life, though hardly surprised by it. Even given the limited writing and publishing opportunities for women of that era, I couldn’t let Anne’s ambition and skill come to nothing. This fanfic for her and for everyone who wanted more for our favorite redhead. And for me, because it gives me a chance to indulge in the purple prose popular in Montgomery’s day. The characters are from the later books in the series, but I borrowed some things from the original movies. 🙂
Anne was tending her summer garden that day when Miss Cornelia marched down the lane. Dainty white and pink blooms floated in a sea of green that swam around the burnished bronze of her hair. The sun’s new warmth released a heady fragrance that seemed to hang about Anne’s head like a wreath. She filled her lungs with glory, kneeling in the dirt like a pilgrim who has at last reached her destination. By the time Anne looked up and and saw her friend, Miss Cornelia was quite close, and the good lady nearly gasped at the sight of Anne’s flashing green eyes.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say she was a girl of fifteen again,” Miss Cornelia said to herself. Indeed, if she had guessed half the reason for Anne’s happiness, she might have thought her declaration to be true.
“Good morning, Miss Cornelia!” Anne flew to unlatch the gate. “Join me on the porch won’t you? It’s too glorious a June day to be indoors.” Miss Cornelia assented with unusual silence and the two women settled themselves on the wicker chairs.
“Thank you, Susan dear,” said Anne as that industrious person laid a tray of sumptuous dainties before them.
“You’re welcome, of course, Mrs. Doctor dear. Miss Cornelia.” Susan nodded to their guest with a bit less warmth than to Anne, for it was a well known fact that she and Miss Cornelia did not wholly approve of each other. Miss Cornelia nodded stiffly in reply. Then, when Susan had gone, she descended in to what Anne had been waiting for: town gossip.
“Well, my dear, you’ll never guess the to-do,” she began. “The whole village is talking of it. A story of the most romantic nature has been published, by an anonymous local, no less, and everyone of us is dying to know who could have spun such a yarn.” Anne smiled into her tea.
“How interesting,” she said. “Do you know what it is about? Not that, for a moment, I would assume that you had read such a thing.” Miss Cornelia pursed her lips and her cheeks reddened. Anne failed to check her laughter. Miss Cornelia attempted to maintain innocence.
“I hear…from others, of course…it is a romance of a most unusual nature…a heroine who refuses her true love at first, and both of them have the most outrageous mishaps. Why, she nearly drowns, and he nearly dies of illness! Have you ever heard of such a thing?”
“I may have,” replied Anne.
“Not that,” Miss Cornelia continued, “It is written without skill. In fact, some who read it say they have rarely found a story so well constructed as this. A frivolous romance, without the ridiculousness. I dare say I don’t know how that can be, but that’s not my word, but theirs.”
“And has anyone guessed who the author might be?” Anne asked. Miss Cornelia frowned.
“That’s the trouble. There are no guesses that make sense. Oh, some people have guessed that Miss Clearwater might have done it, but she’s lived here for ten years. I’ve read one of her books and I can tell you my dear, she doesn’t have it in her. It’s a puzzle, a real puzzle.”
Anne silently pondered as she listened. She was just about to say something when her guest rose from her seat.
“Well, I must be going, Mrs. Blythe,” she announced. “I am sorry for such a short visit, but I have urgent errands in town. I just couldn’t let another day pass without telling you the news.” With that, Miss Cornelia bustled down the lane and out the gate, leaving Anne surprised at the abrupt departure.
“Perhaps next time, my dear friend,” she said.
Late that night the doctor returned. The house was still, but Anne had waited up. As she approached the study she heard a soft chuckle. Dr. Blythe stood at his desk, his back to the door, the local newspaper in his hand. Anne smiled.
“Now what is a story like this doing in our local paper?” The doctor spoke but did not turn around. “It must be the work of a strange out-of-towner, perhaps by the name of… Cordelia. Or is it Elaine?” He turned then, and his eyes had that impish gleam that reminded Anne of a dark haired boy in a country school from years ago.
“Surely you would not read such frivolousness,” Anne said. “ I seem to recall you saying once that such rubbish was-what was it? Mumbo jumbo?”
Dr. Blythe chuckled again. “Ah. Well. I think perhaps I, and the person who wrote this, have greatly improved in wisdom and understanding since those words were spoken. However,” he added. “There is one thing of vital romance that is missing from this story.”
Anne arched an eyebrow. “Oh? And what is that, in your esteemed estimation, doctor?”
“Why my dear, spirited girl.” Dr. Blythe swooped Anne into his arms, eliciting a shriek from his unsuspecting wife. (“Susan is sure to complain about this tomorrow” was the general thought, quickly dismissed.) “There is absolutely no mention of a slate breaking upon the hero’s skull at all.” Anne, laughing, freed herself and faced her husband with mirth and mischief in her eyes.
“Oh Gilbert,” she laughed. “Any author knows that you cannot fit an entire novel’s worth of material into a single short story!”