It was a splendid summer morning. Sun was already high over the horizon and all the birds were cheering it from the woods nearby. Jerry passed the gate of Green Gables just like he always did but then, instead of running to the barn, he passed it by ignoring the noise the cows were making and approached the front porch of the house. He knocked on the front door feeling just slightly apprehensive. ‚Good morning, miss Cuthbert’ he greeted Marilla who opened the door. ‚The shopkeeper gave me something for Anne when I was passing by, can I see her?’. Anne must have heard him through the door from the kitchen since she emerged right at that moment, still crunching on a toast. She reached eagerly for the big envelope he was holding.
- How perfectly screaming! What can it be?
- I don’t know. The shopkeeper said his morning delivery man brought it just today from the station with his deliveries and asked to pass along.
Anne looked suspiciously at the unfamiliar writing at the front of the envelope that clearly said ‚Anne Shirley-Cuthbert, Avonlea’. Not much for an address but still it found her in this round-about way of Jerry, delivery man and who else? She ripped the package open to find inside a short note, a letter in a small, pink envelope and three copies of Charlottetown newspaper. She looked at the note first.
When I saw todays paper I just knew you would be excited to have it as soon as possible. Therefore instead of mailing my letter to you I am pushing it on the train conductor together with as much copies of the paper I could get hold of so you can share with your friends. He assures me he will pass it further and I hope it will reach you before breakfast.
See pages 5 and 7. Double congratulations are in order, I believe. WR
Anne gaped with shock at the note, barely comprehending anything. Who would be this WR, presumably from Charlottetown and why writing to her in such urgency? She turned her attention to the newspaper and flipped to page 5.
What is fair? by Anne Shirley-Cuthbert.
- Look, Marilla! - Anne exclaimed and further words simply failed her so she just pointed at the page.
-They printed your article - Marilla smiled with pride - well done, Anne. You must show Matthew when he gets back from the fields.
Anne looked back into the paper and turned the page.
Queens Academy admittance list for fall 1899*
-Oh, the exam results are out - Anne said and her brows furrowed as she squinted at the paper. There were 99 positions on the list (quite a weird number - she wondered briefly), arranged by score as far as she could see. Now, Anne was a modest girl but she knew her merits quite well. She dropped her eyes to somewhere around number 25 and went slowly downward. Jerry who was somehow still standing on the steps of the porch quietly listening in, looked over her shoulder.
Anne scanned the list carefully. She found Josie at 30 (she was always sharp - she thought loyally) and other friends further down. Her heart leapt with joy as she saw Diana’s name at 77 but then her joy lifted as she came to the end of the list and did not find her own name at all. Then she felt Jerry tapping her on the shoulder.
- Anne! It says Anne Shirley here! - he beamed and put his finger at the name just next to number one, equally proud of her success as his own in finding her name quicker than it took Anne.
She raised her gaze in disbelief and sure enough, there it was, just under the heading:
1. Anne Shirley-Cuthbert, Gilbert Blythe. 98%
- Oh, Marilla - she squealed - I am in! And I am...I am...I am the first of the whole PEI! Oh, well, apparently tied but still - she hugged the old dame in delight - oh, I can’t wait to tell Matthew now! Oh, and we must tell the others! This is then what this WR meant...wait!
She remembered the letter. She gently prised open the dainty piece of stationery and pulled out an equally dainty pink satin paper with rounded corners.
You must be wondering why I am writing to you at all but I thought this is something you need to know about.
The day before yesterday Gilbert visited me at my house and called off our courtship. He didn’t give me reasons for this that I would consider important enough but I didn’t insist. I sincerely believe I understand his main reason. I know him well enough, though, to be sure that voicing this reason to the interested party in full clarity or even mentioning yesterday of yesterday happenings may prove challenging for him. Hence I felt I needed to write to you instead. You deserve to know as soon as possible.
Please do not think I regret anything or am hurt. I enjoyed our little friendship but never approved of my father’s schemes of pushing this forward and manipulating Gilbert into thinking these were my wishes as well. And I am going to move to Paris anyway come winter.
p.s. I do not know your address but I trust that there is only one Anne in Avonlea and my letter will find you.
Now Anne was simply dumbstruck. She definitely needed time to process all of this. Believe three impossible things before breakfast’ she has once heard and now when she could act on it she found it particularly difficult. There were many things to attend to though and she weighted her options carefully. She looked at Marilla and slowly transferred her gaze to Jerry, smiling softly.
-Jerry, would you mind delivering this newspaper to Diana immediately for me? - she looked tentatively to Marilla - we can spare him for half an hour, can we?
She got one strong and one stammering ‚yes’ in response.
- Good! - she handed Jerry one copy of the paper - tell her it is page 7! - and she dashed back inside the house only to emerge a second later with a piece of a toast - Marilla, I simply must go tell the other....the others.
Marilla only shook her head with a smile as she watched Anne’s rapidly vanishing form.
Jerry set of with the newspaper in his hand and an uneasy feeling in his stomach. It hurt him to go near Barrys house, let alone near Diana herself. Yet he wished to make Anne this small favour in helping her spread the good news. ‚How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news’ - he mused to himself. He felt everything but beautiful right now and wondered if his news is indeed good for Diana and what her reaction would be. For her parents surely this will not be good at all. He reached his destination soon enough and knocked on the door.
- Can I see miss Barry please - he inquired of the maid who answered the call - miss Diana Barry. I am here from Anne.
The maid simply nodded, turned and disappeared inside leaving him waiting. Diana emerged in a few minutes later, looking breathtakingly pretty as she usually was although perhaps a bit nervous.
- Jerry? - she said, sounding surprised and apprehensive but definitely not cold nor furious. Good - thought Jerry.
- Anne has sent you this - he reached out and handed Diana the paper - please look at page 7 immediately.
Then he turned and slowly walked back in the direction of Green Gables.
Diana overcame her initial surprise and put all her questions and worries aside as she opened the newspaper eagerly. It must have been important if Anne sent Jerry along at such an early hour. She saw the admittance list and hold her breath. Now Diana knew her merits as well but she also knew how much she did, or rather did not prepare. She started hence from the bottom and soon reached position 77. She gave a quick gasp at that.
She felt an overflowing joy at her own achievement first. She thought then of the pride Aunt Jo would feel. The happiness of Anne that they may go to Queens together. The surprise of all her class mates and mrs Stacy. And finally the rage of her parents. But strangely enough she was beyond caring too much about the latter. She seemed to have passed some line taking the exams anyway. Diana thought about all of those things in a matter of a few seconds, her mind working real quick as it dwelled on understanding emotions, and then glanced up to see a silhouette of Jerry just reaching the farthest end of their front lawn. She decided in a flash.
- Stop! - she cried wildly and completely unladylike and rushed after him.
Jerry did not stop but Diana caught up with him just at the edge of woods and grabbed his arm so he had to turn around.
- Jerry... - she started rather timidly. She felt shy and ashamed and blushed profusely. And for a good reason - she thought to herself. Still she pushed herself to continue - Jerry, I wanted to thank you for bringing the news to me. It means the world to me. Quite literally. By acting on the opportunity to go to Queens I can finally craft my own future myself.
- Yes, well. This was no trouble. I am happy for you miss Barry. Good day to you. - he tipped his cap and started to turn away when Diana grabbed his arm again.
- Jerry...I want to apologise. For all the cruel things I said to you. For hurting you like that. For...for using you really in a way... - tears started to flow down Diana’s cheeks now - I don’t think you are inferior to me. After behaving like I did I could say the opposite would be nearer the truth...I was...just...but no excuse can really excuse me...maybe some day you can forgive me and we can be friends again... - she sobbed more heavily now.
- Here, miss...ehm... Diana, don’t cry, it is fine - Jerry patted her shoulder awkwardly and handed her a handkerchief with a blue monogram - here, take this - he smiled at her and Diana, looking up through the tears hanging on her eyelashes gave a small smile as well.
- So...we can then say ‚see you’? - Jerry said.
- Yes, see you, Jerry - Diana smiled wider now - I have to run to my chores so I can visit Anne in the afternoon to discuss the news. Wait Jerry, Anne is on the list? I never even checked...
- Oh yes, find for yourself. I did - Jerry said with pride, waved at her and this time went away without stopping. But there was a certain new spring to his step that was missing before.