19. October 2020 · Comments Off on ADELE’S TIARA · Categories: ---

By Harriet Darling

When Henry Modari, President of the land of Genequa and a billionaire three times over, and his wife Eve, found they were going to have a baby, Eve’s sister set out to give her a baby shower, and invited everyone she could think of, from both sides of the family, as well as the wives of all the politicians in the land. The baby shower was a terrific surprise to Eve, and she was thrilled that so many of Henry’s family had come, all bearing wonderful gifts for the fortunate child.

“It’s a girl!” Eve informed them. “We have an ultrasound. Would you like to see it?”

Of course all the ladies at the shower wanted to see the unborn child’s photograph, and it was passed from hand to hand. About halfway around the circle, it reached Henry’s two great-aunts, Dianna and Alice Modari. They were considered spinsters as neither had ever married, and to Eve they did seem ancient. But she smiled at their enthusiastic cries about the child’s beauty, sweetness, and loveliness.

“I’m so glad you’re happy, Aunt Dianna and Aunt Alice. We agree that our child, Adele, will be beautiful, sweet, and lovely. She will be a most fortunate child.”

When the ultrasound photos had made the rounds, Eve settled back to open the gifts her friends and family had brought. Her sister, Emma, sat beside her and recorded each gift and its donor. After at least a dozen gifts had been opened, revealing christening gowns, silver spoons, and crystal picture frames, a beautifully-wrapped box was brought to Eve and identified as being from Aunt Dianna and Aunt Alice.

Eve smiled at them and opened it carefully. The tiara she lifted from the cloud of tissue was golden, and sparkled with gemstones. Emma recorded the gift, and then Eve turned to her husband’s great-aunts. “I’m speechless,” she said, shaking her head. “But this gift is far too expensive, and surely it’s too big and too mature for a tiny baby.”

But Aunt Dianna grinned, her multitude of wrinkles making her face seem like a many-times folded piece of paper. “Ah,” she said, “but it isn’t too big. And of course it isn’t too expensive; Adele will be the first female in our family since we ourselves were born, nearly a hundred years ago. So nothing is too good for her.

“And as for being too mature, this is a very special piece of jewelry. It is a magical tiara,” Dianna said. “It has a mystical power. It will make our sweet Adele more beautiful, smarter, and richer every day she wears it.”

As Eve stared at her in shock, the other great-aunt, Alice, smiled benignly around at the circle of ladies. She looked at Eve and said, “Sweetheart, my gift to the child is simply a promise. If Adele should ever lose that tiara, and with it all her beauty, wit and riches, she will gain a pure, loving heart in their place.”

Eve and her sister Emma didn’t quite know what to make of these gifts. But since Henry hadn’t seen his great-aunts for many years, and knew very little about them, the parents accepted the gift at its face value – a beautiful tiara with seven large, stunning gems set in it. There were two rubies, two emeralds, two sapphires, and a large diamond set in the center. And of course it was made of pure gold.

*****

Little Adele grew up to be spoiled rotten, and being so much smarter, prettier and richer than anyone else, she became an unbelievably proud, vain, selfish, cold-hearted little tyrant. She was generally a completely unbearable pain to everyone except her doting parents. She went through maids and nannies like they were water, and the Modaris had to pay the new maids and nannies more and more to get them to stay. But no matter how much money they received, almost none of them stayed longer than a few months. The one exception was Francis, a stout, elderly woman with a very gentle and generous disposition. By the child’s fourteenth birthday, Francis had been with Adele for four months.

Adele had no friends, either. Her mother, Eve, played games with her when she could, and she demanded that the maid and the nanny also play with her, but these games were not particularly merry. Adele insisted on winning any game, whether her opponents were better players than she or not. She also demanded to be read to, since she had never bothered to learn to read.

One day, shortly after she turned fourteen, Adele became bored with her video games, her dolls, her jewelry, and her beautiful clothes.

“I want to see the world beyond the mansion walls,” she told her nanny, Francis. The tiara given to her by Great-Aunt Dianna was her favorite piece of jewelry, and she wore it constantly. It seemed to Adele, who had been told all about the baby shower by her mother, that the claim Aunt Dianna had made of the tiara’s magic must be true. It had grown along with the girl since it was first put on her head, when she was just a year old; it always fit her perfectly. She had never been allowed to leave the mansion before her fourteenth birthday, so as to protect the gems and the tiara.

When she decided to escape, Adele insisted on dressing in a beautiful sapphire-blue velvet gown. She drew on pristine white gloves and stepped into blue satin stiletto heels. She had Francis fix her lovely blonde hair in ringlets. She was a vision of beauty, and she was well aware of it.

She told Francis, “I know my parents will not allow me to leave by the front door. So I must figure out how to leave without their knowledge.”

After she’d scoped out the possibilities without telling Francis, the little rich girl successfully escaped her suite of rooms by climbing out onto the terrace and hanging from it. It was only two floors up, so she hastily let go and dropped to the grassy mound beneath. She happened to crush an entire bed of her mother’s spring flowers, but that didn’t bother her.

She walked down the curved driveway to the road that ran a hundred yards in front of the house, and proceeded to get lost in her upper-class neighborhood, Castle Creek. Before she realized she had lost her way, she had come upon a lovely, rapidly flowing stream, in a still pool of which she saw a perfect reflection of her face. As she gazed down into the still water to admire her beauty, the magical tiara fell from her head and into the stream which swirled away, and the tiara was lost.

Immediately, Adele was a plain middle-class teenager, her rich velvet gown now a dull cotton house dress, her hair straight and stringy around her ears, and her feet bare. She had forgotten everything about herself. She looked around, wondering where she was, where she was supposed to be, and who she was. She set off walking, knowing nothing else that might help.

She wandered deeper into the neighborhood, unable to remember anything, and before long, an old woman called Edwina, who picked up stray cats all the time, found her wandering the streets. Out of pity for the ragged, seemingly homeless child, Edwina took her into her own home and let her live with her and feed her cats. She called the girl Catrina.

*****

Catrina, who had been Adele, now possessed a kind and loving heart. Happy to care for the many cats in Edwina’s home, she cleaned up after them, cooked lovely meals for them, and made herself truly welcome. She was most grateful for what little the old lady could offer her, a stray, homeless amnesiac, and was happy to live in her humble two-bedroom home, nestled between two great mansions in the Castle Creek neighborhood.

Adele’s parents, of course, were horrified to learn of the disappearance of their beloved daughter. They sent an email message to all their friends and acquaintances, saying that should anyone succeed in locating their daughter, that person would be richly rewarded. He would become engaged to Adele, and receive half her father’s billions. Included in the email was a photo of her at her fourteenth birthday party, a beautiful blond girl with sparkling blue eyes and a sneering grin.

One rich young man, who had heard about Adele’s great beauty and matchless wit, had fallen for her from afar. His name was Perry Hamilton, and he was eighteen and darkly handsome. He was the eldest son of a world-famous actress and her husband, an award-winning playwright. Perry was determined to find Adele, and with his chauffeur, traveled far and wide seeking her. But everyone they spoke to said that the rotten little rich girl could just as well stay lost.

“She don’t sound much like a rich bitch,” Hank the chauffeur commented. “She sounds more like my cousin Amy the Terrible, who makes everyone’s life miserable.”

But Perry chided him. “You’d better keep your opinions to yourself, Hank. Adele is entitled to be a little bit self-involved. She’s young, and she has so much. She just needs to do a little growing up.”

Hank shrugged, and drove on. Finally, after a long search in and around the city, Perry and his limousine came to Castle Creek, the upper-class neighborhood in which Adele’s family had their mansion. Since he assumed she would have been able to find her way home from anywhere in that neighborhood, he nearly allowed the driver to pass by. But he had a hunch, and they drove in to the neighborhood of Castle Creek.

Against the chauffer’s objections, Perry got out of the car to walk around but quickly got lost in the unfamiliar streets. As he wandered, trying to find his way back to his limo, he happened to see something sparkle off the sunlight, beside Castle Creek. It was a golden circlet, which had washed up on the river bank and now sat, glittering in the sun.

He picked up the circlet and studied it. He was certain it was the tiara he had heard about, the “crown” that Adele had worn all her life. Tired and lost, he set off again and happened upon the old cat woman’s house. Gardening in her front yard, Edwina saw him, and liked his looks and his manner. “Please,” she said, “you look exhausted. Stay with us. You can sleep on the sofa with some of my kitties until you feel rested enough to continue your journey.”

He agreed and spent a few days there, and met the sweet, plain young Catrina. He soon learned that the plain girl had a gentle, loving heart. It was then that he realized he was no longer interested in the little rich girl, Adele. But he had her tiara. When he got around to calling the Modaris from Edwina’s home, he told them, “I believe I have found your daughter’s tiara.”

“Please describe it, young man,” Henry said distantly. There had been a good many calls like this one. When he heard the description, though, he was thrilled: it was most definitely Adele’s tiara. “Bring it to us this very afternoon, if you would be so kind.”

He said he would, and collected his things. He had gotten in touch with his chauffeur some days before, and the limo driver came to collect him and bring him to the Modari mansion. Perry told Edwina and Catrina, “I promise you I will return soon.”

*****

Henry and Eve were understandably overjoyed at the return of the tiara. Henry told his wife, “I know it would only fit our daughter’s head. We will send an email message to our friends and family, and all the President’s cabinet, that every girl of the correct age must come here to the mansion to be fitted for it.”

As expected, a great number of candidates arrived at the mansion over the next few days. The tiara was passed from head to head, but fit no one. Perry, who had been provided a room in the mansion and would by rights win half the Modari fortune if they found her with his assistance, by now had had enough of all this.

“I will only stay until sunset today,” he told Henry and Eve. “If your daughter is not found by then, I must leave.” He was eager to return to Catrina, whom he now knew he loved.

As the sun set below the horizon, Perry left the Modari home, climbed into his limo and headed toward Edwina’s house. As luck would have it, he saw the plain, young girl, Catrina, on the road leading toward the mansion. He was very happy to see the kind and humble girl he had met in the little house.

“Catrina,” he called, “get in the limo and we’ll drive you to the mansion.”

Once she sat beside him, he took her hand and swore to her, “Promised or not, fortune or not, should cruel Adele ever be found, I will not accept her hand but instead will marry you, gentle Catrina.”

In the end, of course, the tiara did fit Catrina, and she transformed back into the Adele of old, with her memories and all her beauty, intelligence, and riches restored. When Perry learned this, he was horrified. He couldn’t help but recall the general consensus of the people he had spoken to as he’d searched for her. He was distressed, believing that Adele was once again the hard-hearted, selfish girl he had heard she was, and that his gentle, sweet Catrina had vanished forever.

But Adele’s heart had permanently thawed, and when she recognized her parents she fell down on her knees and, teary-eyed, begged forgiveness from them, and from her nanny Francis, for every cruel deed she had ever committed. The people rejoiced, and Perry, now a billionaire in his own right, was very happy to agree to marry her, his true beloved.

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