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Two weeks after Anne’s adoption, Mrs. Rachel Lynde drops by to inspect Anne. Talking with Mrs. Rachel, Marilla admits she feels affection for Anne: “I must say I like her myself ... the house seems a different place already.” Mrs. Rachel disapproves of an old maid like Marilla attempting to raise a child. When Anne comes in from outside, Mrs. Rachel sizes her up, saying, “She’s terrible skinny and homely, Marilla . . . And hair as red as carrots!” Anne flies into a fury, stomps her feet, and screams that she hates Mrs. Rachel. After calling Mrs. Rachel fat, clumsy, and devoid of imagination, she runs upstairs.
Mrs. Rachel, indignant and offended, advises Marilla to whip Anne and declares she will not visit Green Gables if she is to be treated in such a way. Rather than apologize for Anne, Marilla finds herself chastising Mrs. Rachel for being so insensitive. She is not horrified to learn that Anne has a temper; instead, Marilla is sympathetic to Anne, recognizing that she has never been taught how to behave, and she wants to laugh at Mrs. Rachel’s snobbery. When Marilla goes upstairs, she finds Anne sobbing on her bed but utterly defiant. Anne maintains she had a right to be furious at being called skinny and homely. She asks Marilla to imagine how it feels to be called such things. Marilla remembers an incident from her own childhood in which an older lady called her homely, a comment that stung for years. Despite her sympathy for Anne, Marilla thinks Anne must be punished for lashing out at a visitor. She decides not to whip Anne but to make her apologize to Mrs. Rachel. Anne refuses, saying she cannot apologize for something she does not regret.
Anne remains in her room the entire next day, sulking and barely touching the food Marilla brings her. Matthew, concerned about Anne, waits for Marilla to leave the house and then creeps up to Anne’s room. He has not been upstairs for four years. He sneaks in and whispers to Anne that she should apologize to Mrs. Rachel, since Marilla is not likely to change her mind about the punishment. Anne admits that she is not as furious as she was, but says apologizing would be too humiliating. However, to oblige Matthew, she promises to go to Mrs. Rachel’s. Stunned by his success with Anne, Matthew hurries away so Marilla won’t find him interfering with Anne’s punishment.
Anne tells Marilla she is willing to apologize, and they walk to Mrs. Rachel’s house. During the first half of the walk, Anne’s gait and countenance suggest her shame, but midway through the walk, her step quickens and her eyes become dreamy. Upon arriving at Mrs. Rachel’s, Anne resumes slumping and throws herself on her knees before the older woman, clasping her hands and begging for forgiveness, saying,
I could never express all my sorrow, no, not if I used up a whole dictionary . . . I’m a dreadfully wicked and ungrateful girl, and I deserve to be punished and cast out by respectable people for ever.
Mrs. Rachel accepts the apology readily. In her way, Mrs. Rachel atones for her own thoughtlessness by telling Anne that her red hair might darken into auburn as she grows up. She tells Marilla that despite Anne’s odd ways, she likes her.
Marilla feels uneasy about Anne’s apology. She recognizes that Anne enjoyed her punishment, making her apology theatrical and flowery. Although Marilla feels the punishment has backfired, she would feel odd chastising Anne for apologizing too well. As they walk home, Anne slips her hand into Marilla’s, saying how happy she is to be going to a place that feels like home. At the touch of the little girl’s hand, Marilla feels a rush of motherly warmth that is both pleasurable and disarming. She tries to restore her usual emotional control and fends off this unfamiliar feeling of affection by moralizing to Anne about good behavior.
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