Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Short Stories > Natalie Page > Chapter VI--The Second Bracelet
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
Chapter VI--The Second Bracelet
 The whole mystery really began the next afternoon. But I must begin by telling of what happened in the morning. I got up and met my aunt. She sent for me, and I went to her room, where she, dressed in a beautiful négligé, was eating her breakfast. She looked a little tired and white, but she didn’t let herself seem so when she talked.
“My dear child,” she said, “we are so happy to have you here. Sit down--not there, dear; that’s a frock I’ve had sent up on approval, and one doesn’t like to crush them more than so much. . . . I was so sorry I couldn’t meet you last night, but I was persuaded to stay down-town and go to see something light with a group of friends. . . . So seldom have an evening free. . . . Not that blouse, Jane! . . . Now let me see you, Natalie. Stand up.”
I did so, and she said, “Hum----” in a lingering, speculative way. I didn’t feel very comfortable.
“Well, we must go shopping,” she said with a sigh. “Jane, go ask Miss Evelyn to be kind enough to come here a moment----”
Jane vanished, and my aunt went on looking me over.
“Some gray mixture for your day frocks, I think,” she said at length. “With your gray eyes--yes, gray. And we’ll look at something soft in rose and in pink for evening. . . . Lovely hair you have, dear. Like your mother’s. But it looks more like New Orleans than Virginia. I wonder whether there was Creole blood in your mother’s mother’s family?”
I said I didn’t know, and then Evelyn came in. She spoke to me pleasantly, although carelessly, and then to her mother. The way she spoke to her was not pleasant. “What is it?” she almost whined. “I was right in the middle of notes, mother!”
“I wanted you to telephone Mrs. Lethridge-Guth; tell her I’m indisposed--can’t play this morning. . . . This child will have to have some clothes. . . .”
Evelyn looked at me.
“She most certainly will!” she admitted. “I should think some of that braid could come off before you go out----”
Aunt Penelope nodded, got a scissors, and I slipped from my frock. Then I sat down and began to rip off the braid which I had so painfully attached.
“My dear child,” Evelyn broke out, after a look at my arm, “where did you get that? Have you been in my things?”
I hated that last, and I suppose I showed it, for I know my head went up, and I answered coldly.
“That,” I said, “is the Jumel bracelet, and it is mine. It belonged to my mother.”
“Almost forgotten it,” said Aunt Penelope; “let’s see the thing. . . .” I slipped it off and handed it to her.
“Evelyn’s father had one like this made for her,” said Aunt Penelope. “He had Tiffany send a man up to the Jumel Mansion and make drawings of the mate of this, which is in a case by the painting. I think Eve is a little annoyed at your having the real one while hers is a copy.” And Aunt Penelope looked shrewdly at Evelyn and laughed a little.
“How silly of you, mother!” said Evelyn hotly. “I’m nothing of the sort!” And then she spoke of the dent in mine, and handed it back to me. You could see she thought mine was very unimportant. After that, she asked some fretful questions about what she should say at the telephone and left.
“A little out of sorts,” said my aunt, as Jane came back with her street things; “late hours, you know. . . . We’ll have to get you something that you can put on immediately, for there is a friend of your mother’s coming in to tea, whom you must see--dear old soul. Not that one, Jane. . . . Mercy, my girl, can I never teach you--no, the gray----”
After my aunt had dressed for forty-five minutes, she was at last ready to start, and we did. But we didn’t go down to the shopping district by motor, for aunt said that took too long, so we walked a little way and then went in the subway, which was hot, and that made everyone look sleepy and yawn. Aunt Penelope bought me a great many things, and enough underclothes to change every day! They were very pretty. And I must say I did enjoy trying on the soft things I was to wear in the house at night. There was a white crêpe de chine, with a broad yellow sash and hand-embroidered scallops done in yellow around the collar. The woman who sold us things, who had a beautiful voice, and who was very polite and complimentary, said: “Beautiful with her hair and skin. The two are a rare combination.”
And my aunt said: “Yes, let me see that gray, with the rose girdle----”
And she bought that too. And then she bought a rose-coloured dress which was untrimmed except for broad collars and cuffs of scrim, and a plain heavy white dress, untrimmed except for buttons and stitching. And she bought stockings to match all these. She selected shoes for me, skirts for me, morning frocks, as she called them, a motor-coat, a suit, and several hats, all of which were very plain, and a squashy black tam made of lovely soft velvet. I could only gasp. Oh, yes--I almost forgot. She bought brushes and combs for me too, and a little tiny brush to brush my eyebrows with! I almost fainted. And all that took us quite a while, of course. We had lunch in the store, but I didn’t enjoy it much, because my aunt selected it, and naturally it was nourishing, which always detracts from the interest of food.
And then we went home.
As we walked down a side street I saw the loveliest white house on a hill and realized it stood only a few blocks from aunt’s. I asked what it was, and found it was the Jumel Mansion.
Some of the things had reached home before we had--those that we bought first--and it was while I was standing and gazing rapturously at that pink dress that I saw the note.
It was scrawled on my telephone pad, and it said: “Do not wear the Jumel bracelet to-day. It is my wish that you do not.--E.J.” I read it two or three times and then I went to the drawing-room. Jane was dusting, and I asked her what I wanted to know.
“Jane,” I said, “what was Madam Jumel’s first name?”
“I can’t say, miss,” she replied, “but if she is important, you’ll find her in the New York Guide, perhaps.”
I thanked her and went to look it up. And I found that Madam Jumel’s name was Eliza. . . . Well, I’d heard of spirits writing, but I hadn’t believed it before; and I really didn’t believe it then; I thought it was a joke. But I decided I would go over to the Jumel Mansion for a few moments if my aunt would let me. I felt as if I must. So I asked her, and she said I might--for “just a little while.” . . . I put on my new suit and the tam (which I had worn home), defiantly clasped that bracelet around my arm, and started.
And when I got there I found that it was open and that anyone might go in, so I did, and I did enjoy it! . . . In the first place, it is a lovely old house, and it has in it everything in the way of interesting relics that you can imagine. It was Washington’s headquarters for more than a month during the Revolution, and the room where he slept especially interested me. It proved to me that good deeds don’t die. For Washington, who did lots of them, is remembered because he always did his best and was upright and fine and true. And now--every little thing that he even touched is kept and treasured. I stood looking at the Washington relics for a long time, and then one of the curators asked me whether I would like to see the door through which the Indian braves came to pledge allegiance to Washington, and I said I would. So he showed it to me.
“Through this,” he said, “they trooped in; soft-footed, I suppose they were, since they all wore moccasins; and they carried laurel branches as an outward sign of the tune of their spirits.”
And then he told me that the British occupied the house later--they captured it November 16, 1776, to be exact--but he said there was no soft-footed approach with them. He said they were a noisy crowd who liked their ale.
I said: “Perhaps they were homesick and had to do something to cheer themselves up.” I could understand that.
“Why,” he said, “perhaps they were!” and he smiled at me. Then he asked me if I was from the South. He said he rather noticed it in my voice, and he smiled again. I told him yes, and then I thought perhaps he would be interested in my bracelet, and so I showed it to him, and my! the confusion that ensued! . . . He called everyone else who took care of the house, and they all came, and I had to tell my story at least six separate times, and quite an interested crowd of visitors listened and looked at it too. . . . I simply told them how it came to me, and not about the tragic happenings that it made, for at that time I had made up my mind I would not believe in that tale!
Well, we stood around talking and then we went over to the painting of Madam Jumel, and near that I saw the bracelet she had kept. It was in a little case.
“A great many people admire that,” said one of the women who stayed there, “especially the women. There was a little Spanish woman in here the other day who was simply mad about it. All she could say was, ‘Es incomparable lindo y yo lo deseo!’?” which the man said meant: “Incomparably beautiful! How greatly do I desire it! . . .” She said that men liked the Washington things best, but that women almost always liked the bracelet.
Then, because it was growing late, I knew I must go, although I hated to. The people who took care of the house all asked me to come soon again, and I said I would, for I liked them and the house. And, after good-byes and a promise to return and show them the bracelet again, I hurried off.
And outside it began. . . . I don’t know how you know that you are being followed, but I did then. And suddenly--I heard soft, scuddy footsteps drawing closer to me at every second. . . . I ran, and then--I stopped, for I meant to be brave and face it, and I give you my word, although not a second before I had heard those hurrying feet, when I turned there was no one in sight except an old man, who was sitting on the kerb and holding out a tin cup. He wore dark glasses, so I knew he was blind. . . . I went back to him.
“Did you,” I asked, and foolishly, I realized afterward, “see anyone pass?”
“I am blind,” he replied.
And then I said that I knew that was silly to say and that I was sorry. And I gave him fifteen cents, which was all I had with me. . . . I went on, and I began to hear those footsteps again, coming closer and closer--and then ahead of me I saw the man that Evelyn said was “romantically thrilling,” and I ran for him.
“Someone,” I gasped, “is following me.”
He stopped and looked down, and I saw that he didn’t recognize me, and then he looked back, as I had, and saw nothing.
“There’s no one in sight,” he said soothingly, “and I’m sure there’s nothing to be frightened about.”
“Perhaps not,” I answered, “but if you are going home, I’ll go with you.” And then I told him that I was Evelyn’s cousin, and when he said he hadn’t recognized me I told him my aunt had bought me a lot of new clothes. And I told him quite a little about them, because he was sympathetic and easy to talk to. He is a little lame and has to use a cane all the time, and somehow his being not just like other people makes you want to be kind to him; and that--or something else--has made him very kind.
As we turned in the apartment-house I saw the blind man going along the other side of the street, his cane doing the feeling for him, and his movements awkward and stiff. There are a great many things that are sad in New York, which seems strange, for so many people are so wealthy. Now, in Queensburg no one has much money, but no one could go in want, for the people who have just a little more than they have wouldn’t let them.
I told Mr. Kempwood a little about Queensburg too, and he was really interested. And that helped me, for not even Amy will listen to that. He rode up to our floor with me, and stepped off to wait until I got in. Then he shook hands and said good-bye. As he rang for the elevator he said: “If that hat is one of the new ones, you did well. It’s a corker!”
I thanked him and admitted it had some sense, for you could keep it on if you wanted to make a home run. He said I seemed to be doing that when we met, and then the elevator came and he went down. And I went in, remembering his smile so hard that I almost forgot about being followed.
My mother’s friend was there, and I liked her, and I enjoyed the tea, although Aunt Penelope suppressed my natural tendency to engulf cakes and indicated thin bread and butter sandwiches. Then Amy came in, and I went with her to dress. Aunt told me to bathe and put on one of my soft frocks, and to do that each evening at the same hour; but not to wear one frock continually, simply because I liked it. I said I wouldn’t, and decided to wear the pink one every other evening.
I slipped off the bracelet and laid it on my bureau. When I was bathing I heard a little noise, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. I thought that Amy had come in my room to get a pin, or to borrow some hairpins. She uses invisible ones to make her hair look curlier around her face. But when I got out and was doing my hair I saw another note. It lay where my bracelet had been. On it was written:
“I told you not to wear this. My warnings are not given without reason. When I deem it wise this will be returned.--E. J.”

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved