Marilla proves overzealous in doling out punishments…
When Marilla finds her amethyst brooch missing, she immediately suspects Anne had a hand in it, and indeed she admits to trying it on soon enough.
“Oh, I put it back on the bureau. I hadn’t it on a minute. Truly, I didn’t mean to meddle, Marilla. I didn’t think it would be so wrong to go in and try on the brooch; but I see now that it was and I’ll never do it again. That’s one good thing about me. I never do the same naughty thing twice.”
“You didn’t put it back,” said Marilla. “That brooch isn’t anywhere on the bureau. You’ve taken it out or something, Anne.”
“I did put it back,” said Anne quickly – pertly, Marilla thought. “I don’t just remember whether I stuck it on the pincushion or laid it on the china tray. But I’m perfectly certain I put it back.”
Evidently, Anne has the unfortunate affliction of seeming disingenuous or flippant when she is trying to be earnest.
“I believe that you are telling me a falsehood, Anne,” she said sharply. “I know you are. There now, don’t say anything more unless you are prepared to tell the whole truth. Go to your room and stay there until you are ready to confess.”
Anne persists in denying she had anything to do with the disappearance of the brooch, but Marilla doubles down, eventually proclaiming that she can’t even go to the highly anticipated picnic until she confesses, seeing how well it worked with the Mrs. Lynde situation before. And indeed, Anne announces she’s ready confess the next morning.
“I took the amethyst brooch,” said Anne, as if repeating a lesson she had learned. “I took it just as you said. I didn’t mean to take it when I went in. But it did look so beautiful, Marilla, when I pinned it on my breast that I was overcome by an irresistible temptation. I imagined how perfectly thrilling it would be to take it to Idlewild and play I was the Lady Cordelia Fitzgerald. It would be so much easier to imagine I was Lady Cordelia if I had a real amethyst brooch on. […] When I was going over the bridge across the Lake of Shining Waters I took the brooch off to have another look at it. Oh, how it did shine in the sunlight! And then, when I was leaning over the bridge, it just slipped through my fingers – so – and went down – down – down, all purply-sparkling, and sank forevermore beneath the Lake of Shining Waters. And that’s the best I can do at confessing, Marilla.”
The story seems awfully fishy, but Marilla’s been searching in vain for her brooch for days and this is the only explanation available. Naturally, Marilla is angry, and since Anne immediately draws her attention back to the picnic (because she’ll take any punishment as long as she can still go), Marilla selects just that as her punishment.
That was a dismal morning. Marilla worked fiercely and scrubbed the porch and the dairy shelves when she could find nothing else to do. Neither the shelves nor the porch needed it – but Marilla did.
Then in the absence of anything else to do, Marilla remembers a shawl that needs mending, and what do you think she finds caught up in it?
“Anne Shirley,” said Marilla solemnly. “I’ve just found my brooch hanging to my black lace shawl. Now I want to know what that rigmarole you told me this morning meant.”
“Why, you said you’d keep me here until I confessed,” returned Anne wearily, “and so I decided to confess because I was bound to get to the picnic. I thought out a confession last night after I went to bed and made it as interesting as I could. And I said that over and over so that I wouldn’t forget it. But you wouldn’t let me go to the picnic after all, so all my trouble was wasted.”
Marilla had to laugh in spite of herself. But her conscience pricked her.
“Anne, you do beat all!” But I was wrong – I see it now. I shouldn’t have doubted your word when I’d never known you to tell a story. Of course, it wasn’t right for you to confess to a thing you hadn’t done – it was very wrong to do so. But I drove you to it. So if you’ll forgive me, Anne, I’ll forgive you and we’ll start square again. And now get yourself ready for the picnic.”
It’s nice to recognize that adults are sometimes in the wrong, too. They’re not all-knowing, just a bit more experienced.
“That child is hard to understand in some respects. But I believe she’ll turn out all right yet. And there’s one thing certain, no house will ever be dull that she’s in.”
Until next time…