In Candy Candy Final Story (CCFS) epilogue, Albert replied to Candy’s first letter to him after revealing that he was Candy’s Prince on the Hill:
I don’t blame you for getting angry.
I kept it secret, that I was “Granduncle” — William A. Ardray.
I had my inner conflict myself to keep it secret, but I won’t make excuses.
I wish I could watch over you silently.
Who could ever have imagined that “Albert” was taken care of by you so much! (like a cheap novel)
Some people suspected that Albert had fallen in love with Candy after rescuing her from drowning near the waterfall. I’m strongly against that. First, she was barely a teenage girl, and he just past twenty. If he had loved her as a woman, he wouldn’t have adopted her. He could have helped her using other means. Why would he create some trouble for himself that he would have to fix in the future? 😉
Moreover, Albert recognized the little girl from the orphanage. In CCFS, he told Candy much much later that back then he saw his own badge dangling from her neck when she was still unconscious. He had had a great memory with her on Pony’s Hill roughly six years ago, so it was natural that he wanted to give her a hand somehow, and he knew he had the power.
Plus, a Candy Candy fan once mentioned to me that Albert might have possibly understood his three nephews’ real feelings for this girl around that time, so he heeded their pleas and given her a “prestigious” position in the family such that his aunt, Madam Elroy, wouldn’t oppose the boys as much. In a sense, after being adopted into the family, Candy became ‘equal’ with them, at least socially. Therefore, years later, when Madam Elroy let Neil marry Candy, the relatives found this totally acceptable.
Hence, on his own authority, Albert made one of the biggest decisions in his life, which shocked his stern aunt. As powerful as she was, she couldn’t do anything to revert the adoption (except to express her disapproval again and again or mistreat the poor orphan). Even then, Madam Elroy couldn’t stop her young nephew from renting the luxurious dormitory room in St. Paul for the orphan girl.
In fact, I wonder how much more expensive that luxurious room was compared to other ordinary rooms in the dormitory. 😉 Like Candy, Terry resided in the privileged room in the boys’ dormitory. No wonder Terry had never once suspected Candy had had a painful past. In any case, this shows that Albert could spend his money the way he saw fit, and his aunt had no say in this matter.
Nonetheless, Albert was really too young to be Candy’s father. (He was at most eleven years older, but this shift in age gap in CCFS is quite questionable. Please read my other post Age difference between Candy and Albert for details.) Also, Albert intended to watch over Candy in silence, but it didn’t mean his world revolved around her. Even in London, he didn’t go there merely because of her but because of family business. When she seemed happy with her friends and cousins, he went to Africa for his dream, so up to that point, their relationship remained platonic.
However, who could have predicted that Albert would lose everything one day, including his identity and memory? In addition, this orphan girl was the one who saved him from despair. The funny thing is that even Albert jeered that it was like a cheap novel (was Mizuki mocking her own plot? 😆 ).
Anyway, as explained in Conflicting Emotions (Part 1), once Albert recovered his past memory, I believe the reality was too astonishing to him. He didn’t know how to react just yet. First, not only he was Candy’s legal guardian, but she used to be in love with his late nephew (the son of his beloved sister), Anthony. Though you can argue that Anthony had long passed away, it’s clear to Albert that Candy was still grieving because of Terry. To help her deal with the pain, Albert decided to stay. Besides, Albert confessed he wanted to continue the heartwarming life with Candy.
Back to his letter to her above, he admitted to having inner conflict himself. I believe he referred to the period after his recovery from amnesia. Come to think of it, before his train accident, he and Candy had been casual friends only. She had no right to demand anything from him back then, and she didn’t find it strange when he revealed nothing about his family or background. She had always assumed he was a vagabond.
However, after acting like brother and sister for so long (seeing each other on a daily basis), their friendship had evolved. Even Candy realized that Albert was not only a brother to her (she admitted that he was special to her). I believe that if Albert told her that he had recovered but would like to stay with her for a while, she wouldn’t say no to him, right? 😉 But he was probably afraid that she would ask him questions about his past or background. Either he had to lie, or he had to tell her the truth. The easiest way out was to continue to pretend to be amnesiac to buy himself some time.
During those ‘extra’ months, he was likely having constant struggles, like whether to adjust his feelings for Candy, who had been the most important person in his life for at least a year (or much longer, see the post Living together… how long? for your interest). On one hand, he honestly wanted to take care of her for the rest of his life, or else it didn’t make sense why he proposed to share a sandwich with her from now on.
Yet, months later, he decided to vanish in her life. His departure letter gave us a hint. He felt that he had given Candy nothing but trouble. Because of him, she had lost her job in the hospital (not only St. Joanna, thus ruining her career), and now her neighbors found out that she had been living with her so-called ‘brother’, presumably a gangster. In short, her reputation had been damaged.
It was highly likely that he resolved to deny his own feelings and “fall out of love” with her (read this interesting article How to Fall Out of Love with Your Best Friend if you like). I think that was one of the reasons behind the Rockstown episode. Perhaps Albert had contemplated long enough and believed it was too risky to change their current friendship. Why? Because he might have lost Candy as a friend, and their legal relationship further complicated their situation.
In addition, as some of you have already pointed out, it was time for Albert to resume his position and authority in the family. During his absence, his aunt had become more and more unreasonable and controlling, not to mention that she had been isolating Candy from various family events. Even when Albert had resumed working for the family business (while still living in the small apartment on the outskirts of Chicago), Candy still wasn’t allowed to attend Stear’s funeral (note that the anime had changed this slightly). To remedy that, Albert had to go home in hopes that he could keep an eye on his shrewd aunt.
The engagement party near the end of the manga was simply brilliant (unfortunately the anime version has completely omitted this significant episode). The servants (or at least the butler) must have recognized Albert, or else how could he have barged in the party like that? Those who attended must have a formal invitation, and possibly Madam Elroy had deliberately kept her nephew in the dark about the forced engagement. As long as her nephew stayed in Lakewood, Madam Elroy could do whatever she wished to Candy. However, the old lady’s reaction to seeing her young nephew out of the blue was priceless. Since Candy was late to the party (scolded by Neil), I have a strong feeling that Albert had arrived for a while, waiting for the right moment to make his appearance. He also must have ordered the servants (or the butler) to keep his presence a secret from the family matriarch. Later, the way Albert rebuked his aunt in front of the relatives conveyed who had the highest authority in the family, and after that, even the guests murmured among themselves that Madam Elroy had to step down when the patriarch (despite being so much younger) showed up.
Since then, Madam Elroy became aware how important Candy was to her nephew, and the old lady would not dare to despise the orphan so openly anymore.
Yet, it didn’t mean that Albert had resolved his inner struggles at that point. The fact that he delayed telling Candy that he was her prince speaks volumes. I’ll talk more later. This post is way too long already. 😛 😉