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Chapter XIV--Evelyn Blames Me
 “She did it,” said Evelyn shrilly, as I stepped through the door. “I saw her carrying them. She even had the assurance to smile at me and wave! And as to this”--she waved the note--“that is only what I would expect from a prying, thieving chit who has had no upbringing, and who is suddenly thrown among people of cultivation. I----” She stopped, looked at the empty box, and choked. Aunt Penelope, who was looking awfully baffled, stooped to pick up one of the stockings that had fallen from the box. “What is this?” she asked in a sort of vacant tone, and the question, and all that tangled in its answer, evidently enraged Evelyn, for she almost exploded with rage.
“What is it?” she echoed. “What is it! Ask her!” She pointed at me. “Ever since she came,” she went on, “I have been bothered. Amy never thought of doing a thing until she appeared. Amy was always----”
But she stopped, for at that moment Amy came in and diverted the talk.
“Do you know anything about this, Amy?” asked Aunt Penelope.
Amy looked at the box and then at me. “No,” she answered.
“Why should she?” asked Evelyn. “I told you I saw the violets. I suppose she took them to Mr. Kempwood; she’s insane about him. . . . Silly little thing! . . . I hope you will make it understood, mother, that if another thing like this happens she will be shipped to her backwoods town--to stay.”
“I didn’t do it,” I said, but my voice shook, and even to myself it did not sound convincing.
“Didn’t do it!” said Evelyn, and she laughed unpleasantly.
“Where did you get the violets?” asked Aunt Penelope.
I told her, and I looked at Amy, but her face was hard, and she answered none of the appeal I sent her for help. And at that moment I began to hate her for a cheat.
“She has helped herself to my bracelet too,” Evelyn accused. “For two days it was gone, and when it came back there was a dent in it.”
“I didn’t,” I whispered. “I honestly didn’t.” But no one believed me.
“Have you any ideas about who made off with the violets?” asked aunt. “Who took the bracelet?”
I said I had. And she asked who it was, and I said I’d rather not tell. Then there was a deep, unpleasant silence, and during this everyone looked at me.
“We will have to have a very serious talk,” Aunt Penelope said to me. “I think, Natalie, you have allowed yourself to forget what you owe us, the debt our hospitality has laid on you.”
I contested, as politely as I knew how, that I had not. And I added that I had had nothing to do with the violet theft, whatever else I was mixed up in.
“Do you mean to tell me,” demanded Evelyn, waving the note we wrote, “that Amy had a thing to do with this? I can’t believe it. You didn’t, did you, Amy?”
And again Amy said “No.”
“It is too childish for her,” Evelyn continued triumphantly. “She plays as good a game of bridge as I do, mother, and she wouldn’t stoop to this sort of action. That we leave to people who accept everything and give nothing but trouble.”
“In some way,” I said, “I am going to pay you for everything”--and I could feel myself growing steadily more white, for I was furiously angry--“and I am going home,” I added, “home where truth is believed and I am trusted.” Then I looked at Amy.
“I will take some blame about the paste,” I said.
“Indeed?” said Evelyn coolly, her eyebrows raised. “Why accept any, since lying doesn’t seem to trouble you?”
I didn’t answer, and Aunt Penelope ran her hand over her forehead and said, “Dear, dear!” in a tried, worried way. Then the door-bell rang, and Aunt Penelope, Evelyn, and Amy all became quite everyday and tried to look usual. I stood silent and ignored as Jane admitted Mr. Herbert Apthorpe.
He said “Evelyn!” quite sharply and held out his hands. You could see he cared for her and was glad things were fixed, as I suspect they were, and I think Evelyn was glad too, although she didn’t show it so plainly. She only said: “Oh, Herbert! Nice of you to come to see us. . . . Let’s go in the living-room. I believe there’s a fire there. . . .”
At that moment Jane summoned Aunt Penelope to the telephone, and Amy, quite naturally, disappeared. I went down to see Mr. Kempwood, for I was going to borrow the fares to go home. But he persuaded me not to go, and in this way, after I had told him as much as I dared, without squealing on Amy.
“My dear,” he said, “if Washington had not fought out the battle of Harlem Heights, New York might be a British Possession to-da............
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