It’s the prospect of Anne being forced to carry on the cycle of neglect and abuse that makes up Marilla’s mind.
Marilla promptly gets an answer to the question of where the gender mix-up took place – evidently the fault lay with a flighty messenger. But rather than promising to take Anne back to the orphan asylum, Mrs. Spencer has a mind to send her to another family in want of childcare – where she could be “useful”.
Marilla did not look as if she thought Providence had much to do with the matter. Here was an unexpectedly good chance to get this unwelcome orphan off her hands, and she did not even feel grateful for it.
The woman in question happens to pay a visit to Mrs. Spencer at the same time as Marilla, and seeing Anne in the same room as her smites her conscience.
“Well, I don’t know,” she said slowly. “I didn’t say that Matthew and I had absolutely decided that we wouldn’t keep her. In fact, I may say that Matthew is disposed to keep her. I just came over to find out how the mistake had occurred. I think I’d better take her home again and talk it over with Matthew. I feel that I oughtn’t to decide on anything without consulting him.” […]
“Oh, Miss Cuthbert. did you really say that perhaps you would let me stay at Green Gables?” she said in a breathless whisper, as if speaking aloud might shatter the glorious possibility. “Did you really say it? Or did I only imagine that you did?”
“I think you’d better learn to control that imagination of yours, Anne, if you can’t distinguish between what is real and what isn’t.”
Marilla feels the need to instill morals in Anne and at every opportunity, but she does have a fair point here. When she chides her for speaking ill of Mrs. Blewett on the other hand, it’s clear that Marilla kind of agrees with her, even if she wouldn’t speak so frankly. At any rate, Matthew seems to be of the same mind.
“I wouldn’t give a dog I liked to that Blewett woman,” said Matthew with unusual vim.
Upon talking it over with Mathew, (read: relating Anne’s history and everything that went down at Mrs. Spencer’s, with occasional exclamations from Matthew), Marilla finally admits to him that she’s come around to the idea of keeping Anne.
“And mind, Matthew, you’re not to go interfering with my methods. Perhaps an old maid doesn’t know much about bring up a child, but I guess she knows more than an old bachelor. So you just leave me to manage her. When I fail it’ll be time enough to put your oar in.”
It’s more important that they care about Anne than that they be “good parents” – love covers a multitude of sins.
Until next time…