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Chapter IV--What Mary Elinor told Me
 The next morning I got up quite early, and Mrs. Crane, who did too, helped me to assemble my things. She loaned me a suitcase for the bridge jackets and my pin-cushions (which would not go in the trunk!), and then, taking a few of the best flowers from each bouquet, made them into a small one, which she pinned on me with a lovely little gold-headed pin, which she called a “violet pin.” And all the time we worked together she talked most comfortingly. “If everything seems right different at first, dear,” she said, as she folded up my nightie and bath-robe, “don’t worry. . . . Things have a way of smoothing out, you know. And you’ll accommodate yourself. I suppose you’re used to being outdoors?”
I responded that I was.
“Then,” she said, and very cheerfully, “think of the walks you can take in New York! The things you can see! The most beautiful buildings, and parks, and dear knows what all, honey! Why, you’ll have a beautiful time!”
“I sort of hope,” I confided, “that I can get to one of the big league games.” It was hard for me to speak of it, because I did so want to go, and I was afraid it wouldn’t be suitable or something. For, almost invariably, things that are pleasant are not proper to do. I’ve always noticed it.
But Mrs. Crane thought my uncle would take me if I told him how much I cared about going.
“Do you?” I said, and ever so earnestly, for it meant a great deal to me.
“I don’t see how he could help it,” she answered; and then, after kissing me, she told me to hurry on with my dressing and come down to breakfast. And I did. As I did my hair (which was, at that time, a very simple operation, and involved three licks of the comb and one rubber strap), I thought of Mrs. Crane, and I did wish I could stay with her, for I began to see that my clothes did look strange, and I knew that she would help me to fix them without laughing at me or them. Bradly-dear had had them made so that I was too aware of them, and so that no one else could overlook them. It is hard to explain, but the trimmings and the dresses didn’t mix, and the braid drew attention to the dresses, and the dresses drew attention to the braid, which was not all moored on the level. I anchored a good deal of it myself, and I can tell you that it is far easier to pitch against a left-handed batter than to put on a yard of serpentine braid, beside being a great deal more interesting.
Just as I had got my dress on and was trying to hook it under the arm, someone tapped, and after my “Come in,” I found it was Mary Elinor. “Bill’s home,” she said first. “He just got in. He’s glad he’s going to meet you. He likes baseball too. I have something to tell you, but I don’t just know how. It is a delicate thing to say and requires womanly tact, of which I have not much, since father whips us if we tell fibs. That kind of an upbringing is an awful handicap.”
She sat down after this, and began to plait her handkerchief.
“If you feel as if you ought to say it,” I said, “go to it. I won’t mind.” And she did.
“It’s about the bracelet,” she said. “Mother doesn’t believe in such things, but Aunt Eliza (she’s our cook) knows all about them, and she says that probably the ghost of the first owner has put a ‘hant’ on it. . . .”
“I don’t believe in such stuff,” I answered. “You know how niggers are.”
“I know,” Mary Elinor answered, “but--well, look here, your own mother thought so.”
“Thought what?” I asked, and quickly. I was getting excited, and I wanted her to come to the point.
“Thought Madam Jumel didn’t want anyone to wear her bracelet, and made them unhappy--in some queer way--if they did. Everyone who wears that bracelet has awful things happen to ’em!”
“What?” I asked. I sat down on the foot of the bed.
“Well, mother said your mother said that because she wore it the first time your father kissed her, he died with pneumonia before he’d ever seen you. She said that made it.”
“I don’t believe it,” I asserted. I was annoyed. It didn’t sound like Mrs. Crane. Mary Elinor bridled, and her eyes snapped.
“Then don’t,” she said. “I only thought someone ought to tell you, before something frightful happened to you. And I don’t lie, Miss Natalie Page. You can ask my father, because he taught me not to and----”
“I know you don’t,” I answered, “and I’m sorry I said that.” And then I decided I’d better hear the story. Beside, I wanted to. So I told her to tell me all about what she knew of it, and she did.
It seems they have a room which they call “the winter room,” and this contains a cosy little alcove, lighted by a high window, which is remote and an ideal reading spot. And one day after Mrs. Crane got Uncle Frank’s letter, the letter about my coming, Mary Elinor happened to be there, reading. It was a book she had read before, and of course she knew what happened next, and so she wasn’t especially interested, and what her mother and father said sort of floated in her consciousness and rooted, she said, before she realized that she was listening. Then, since they hadn’t known she was there, she decided not to enlighten them. She knew that they would be shocked by her presence, and she assured me that she always tried to be considerate. And, she reasoned further, that since she had heard so much, almost involuntarily, there was no use stuffing up her ears, and beside, she was interested.
It was interesting, but I didn’t believe it--then.
“Ted,” Mrs. Crane had said (Doctor Crane’s first name is Theodore), “I want to give Natalie Page that bracelet, but--you know poor Nelly’s foolish fear of it bothers me.”
“Nonsense!” Doctor Crane answered, and Mary Elinor said she knew he was smoking, by the tight way he spoke.
“I suppose it is,” Mrs. Crane said, “isn’t it?”
“Why, of course it is. . . . Nothing the matter with that bracelet. My dear, how could it affect anything? . . . And as for poor Carter Page’s pneumonia” (Carter Page was my father, and he was an Admiral in the Navy), “he went off with that because of a severe climatic change, a bad sailing, and a weak heart. And of course Nelly was upset both physically and mentally by that.”
“But before,” said Mrs. Crane. “You know her little sister--the one who was killed in that Carrol County Hunt--thrown from a horse--well, she’d borrowed this bracelet and wore it that day.”
“My dear,” said Doctor Crane, “that’s simply coincidence. And it certainly proves nothing. . . . I think Nelly’s daughter ought to have it, because of its historic value, and I wouldn’t be bothered for a second by those imaginings.”
Then Mary Elinor heard him scratch a match and relight his pipe. She said that it was really interesting the way she could tell what was going on without seeing it. It was like movies for the blind.
“Suppose,” said Mrs. Crane, “there is something in that sort of thing (although, of course, there isn’t) and I did give this child something that would----”
Then Doctor Crane asked if she needed a tonic, which is his way of saying that people are cross, or crazy, or nervous.
Mrs. Crane laughed.
“Ted,” she said, “I know I am crazy, but when I remember it----” And then Mary Elinor said her voice became soft as she told this story. . . . I had heard it, but never told this way. And here it is:
I was born while my father was cruising the Pacific. Each day he had hoped to be able to come home, but orders were against him and, like all sailors, he had to abide by those and not by the dictates of his heart. And so--I grew for three months, and then one day my mother heard that father was to come home and would probably be in port within three or four weeks. Mrs. Crane’s description of that was lovely. And she could describe it, for my mother then lived in the Green Spring Valley with grandpapa, and Mrs. Crane went there often, taking Alix, Barbara, and William. Mary Elinor wasn’t, at that time.
“Excitement, Ted!” said Mrs. Crane. “I wish you might have seen it. . . . But you remember how I told of it----”
“A little.”
“Well, Nelly was the happiest little person I’ve ever seen, and simply delighted over the beautiful baby she had waiting to show her husband. Each day little Natalie (who really was a sweet child) was dressed in her best and ready for display. For Nelly couldn’t realize that three weeks at least must elapse before her big husband could come home to her. And she herself, pretty as ever, would wail: ‘Dear, do you think I’m as pretty as I was? Carter always thought me pretty, you know. . . . Do you?’ And then, quickly: ‘But if he doesn’t there’s the baby--and she is a beauty!’ . . .”
“Always was a coquette,” said Doctor Crane.
“Yes,” admitted Mrs. Crane. “Nelly knew her husband was wild about her. They really loved each other too much--the other would have been easier if they had been a bit closer to normal caring----”
And then came what I have always known, and been saddened by. For my poor little mother, after getting me all ready for my daddy, and herself all ready for him, too--both of us in our prettiest things--had a wire. And in this she heard that he was dead. And when she heard that she took off the bracelet (I did not know this part of the story) and flung it far from her. And then she fainted. And she never cried at all. Which I can understand.
Well, a few months went on, and, although they said I cared a great deal for her, she didn’t seem to care for anything--even me. And quite naturally, she began to be ill. I suppose that there was nothing left for which life was worth the living. . . . A big mammy took care of me, and my grandpapa loved me a lot, but I am sure, even then, that I wanted my mother most. . . . One day, perhaps six or eight months after my father’s death, my mother asked for the Jumel bracelet. And when they brought it to her (with a dent in the side, which had come from her throwing it) she smiled. . . . “I’m going to take it to its jealous owner, Chloe,” she said to my mammy. . . . “Or at least--I will take it where no one else can wear it--and where Madam Jumel will not mind its being worn.” And then again she smiled.
And when she died she had it on her arm, and of course she had meant that she was to be buried in it. But Chloe, my mammy, would not have that. She did not believe in carrying unhappiness to the other world, and, like a great many of her race, believed that you could take things with you--if they went in your coffin. Which is, of course, silly. For all you really take is love, and the whitest part of your soul. I am sure all jealousies, and hurts and little things stay here, and I like to believe so. . . . But to get on, old Chloe told my grandfather, and he, a broken-hearted old man, took it off. And then he kissed my mother’s arm, at the spot where the bracelet had made a mark, and he said: “It’s all right now, my little girl, isn’t it? It’s all right now!” For he hoped she was very happy. And then he went off and sat down on the porch, his head sagging down on his chest and in his hands the Jumel bracelet. . . .
There were three years which followed, three years in which nothing happened. And then, my grandfather began to lose money. I remember that time, although I was only three and a half. I remember his holding me very tight and pressing his face against my chest; and I remember that I always hugged him and said, “Granddad--dear,” for Chloe, who taught me everything, had said: “Your granddaddy done gotta have a lotta love, honey chile. He done gotta, for he’s lost a lotta love--a powerful lot! . . . .” For two of his daughters and his wife had all gone--within eight years.
And I did love him.
I remember also how, when they brought him in, bleeding, and with his eyes wide open but sightless, how I felt, how I screamed, and how even Chloe could not stop me. . . . Little by little he had lost money. And the small sums had worried him, and he had tried to catch them back with the big ones. And somehow, after a little time of this--there were no big ones. And then--one day in hunting season they found my dear grandfather by a stile, where they thought he had fallen and accidentally discharged his gun, which is, of course, possible. Anyway--he had evidently lain there for a good many hours, and he had bled to death.
And they found the Jumel bracelet in his pocket--flattened and bent. Looking as if someone had stepped on it, ground it into the earth, and--believed the story!
Chloe took charge of it, and Mrs. Crane saw it when she came out to take charge of me until I should go to Uncle Frank’s. And Mrs. Crane took the bracelet, because she thought no one of our family would want to see it, since even Uncle Frank seemed to believe in the ill omens it carried. She had it straightened and made whole again, and sometimes wore it; but not often, since she cared deeply for my mother, and the memories it gave her hurt. And so the bracelet was kept until I got it.
Doctor Crane asked about Aunt Penelope, and how she would feel about it, but Mrs. Crane said she had never believed a word of the tale. She was my mother’s much older half-sister--my grandfather first married a Northern woman, and after she died my mother’s mother.
“It won’t bother Penelope,” said Mrs. Crane. And she laughed. And then, Mary Elinor said, she added: “I wonder how Natalie will get on there, Ted? I imagine that there is a good deal of worldliness and thought of form. I do hope it will be all right, for if she is like her mother she is a dear!”

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