Tracy Park, 5/11April 1, 2007
On the way home from the park house, Jerry says that she knows where the diamonds are, but she isn’t going to tell. Harold doesn’t really notice because he’s kind of preoccupied. Something must stick though, because he suddenly remembers it nine years later.
Before she goes to bed that night, Jerry asks Harold what will happen to the person who stole the diamonds. Harold says that they’ll go to prison. This is his description of what they do to people in prison: “Cut their hair off; make them eat bread and water and mush, and sleep on a board, and work awful hard.”
The next day the police search the house. They insist on searching Arthur’s rooms just to show that they’re being fair, but the don’t find anything. Still, Jerry is terrified.
Jerry: What if they found the diamond and thought I took them? I’d have to go to prison and eat mush, which I hate.
Arthur: I would go in your stead.
Jerry: They would let you do that?
Arthur: Sure they would.
Jerry: If someone knows who took the diamonds, should they tell?
Arthur: Yep. Otherwise they’re an accessory.
Jerry: And accessories are punished just the same as the real criminal?
Now, of course it’s obvious that Arthur took the diamonds and has forgotten about it, and that Jerry is trying to protect him. Believe it or not, it’s even more obvious in the book. Jerry decides that if Arthur is caught and she isn’t discovered to be an accessory, she will go to prison in his place. So, in order to prepare herself, she eats bread and water, sleeps on the floor, and cuts off her beautiful blonde hair.
The combination of her new diet and the strain on her nerves makes her ill, and for days she lies in bed raving about diamonds and substitutes and things. Arthur, who visits her constantly, sees that it would make Jerry happy if Mrs. Tracy had her diamonds back, so he buys her a new set. This doesn’t make Jerry feel any better, but during the course of their conversation, he says that if a crazy person commits a crime, they can’t be held responsible. With that weight off her mind, Jerry soon recovers.
A couple of weeks later, Arthur remembers that he wrote a letter to Gretchen’s friends, and he gives it to Jerry to post. Jerry makes excuses not to take it, because if she does she’ll have to give it to Frank, but in the end she does. She doesn’t like the idea of Frank keeping the letter, but he assures her that he’s just going to have a look at it and send it. Then he sticks it in the drawer with the Bible and the photograph.
He agonizes a lot over this most recent evil act — he hasn’t actually lied outright before — but he continues to tell himself that it’s all for Maude. If Maude is happy, he can bear it.