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Chapter XVII--Who Caught the Mouse-Trap?
 The night after my birthday party, at which the hostess was clothed in pink pyjamas and a coral bath-robe and one of her guests wore a crêpe de chine nighty, I slept badly. In the first place I was bruised and sore from my fall and in the second, frankly frightened. I kept imagining that I heard things, as you do when the lights are out and the world is still outside. My furniture creaked as the damp, night air crept in. A board snapped, then my radiator clanked. I used my flashlight about two hundred and eight times and then, ashamed of myself, lay back and decided I would go to sleep and not be silly. And I did go to sleep. When I awoke it was quieter than ever and very still, but I knew by the goose-flesh, hot-and-cold, choked sensation I had, that I had been awakened by something foreign, perhaps a noise that should not have been, and that I was not alone. I lay shaking, but with my eyes closed, and then I felt a light flash across my face. I stirred, sighed as you do when half-awake, and turned. Then I heard footsteps near my bureau and a gently, sliding noise which was the drawer being pulled out. I stealthily reached for my night light, but it had been set off the table on the floor--put of my reach. And my flashlight was gone.
I did some quick thinking; in fact I don’t know how I got all the reasoning I did in those few minutes, but somehow it went in. I reasoned that if I called I would be hurt before anyone could reach me, and that I had no chance to get up and get out of the room--alive. And I decided that if the bracelet was the only thing wanted, I would not be hurt if I kept quiet; so I adopted the policy of possums and lots of the little grapevine insects that look so much like twigs or a bit of leaf--and lay still.
I heard the trap snap and a muttered word that is absolutely unquotable, and I had to smile, even then! And I was fearfully frightened--almost sick from fright to be truthful. Then I turned again and sighed and I heard the man, woman, or whatever it was, grow quiet. Absolutely heard he, she, or it, hold its breath, wait in suspense, and the silence of the moment was louder than lots of noises. It simply throbbed.
Then there was a soft noise and I saw a dark form in front of the window, heard a scratch of a heel going over the sill and something scratch. I coughed, there was a quick movement from the window, and I knew I was alone. It was a cloudy night, with the air still threatening snow and the court is dusky even in daytime, so I could not even get an outline of the intruder, which I wanted and so greatly needed.
I heard a scuffle outside, as if someone were sliding down against bricks, and then there was silence, throbbing silence once more, which seemed loud as it so often does at night. . . . I lay very still for several moments, perhaps it was many minutes; I don’t know, for I was sick and shaking and I imagine half-fainting, because the bed seemed to be floating. Even then, I was ashamed of myself for my lack of courage. When I at last got my nerve back, I sat up, wiped my forehead, which was wet, mopped off my cold, damp palms, and felt around for my night light. I found it, about a yard from my bed, and after I set it back I lit it and looked around. Nothing was disturbed, but I found that the trap was gone.
“Well,” I thought, “I have you now----” and I stood looking down at the empty box, and smiling--but I missed it. Something was disturbed. A piece of wood was torn from the window-sill, a great piece which had been started in a jag by the holes made that night of the rappings, and on the remaining splinters of this was a piece of cloth, quite evidently torn from clothing.
“If I were only a Sherlock!” I thought, as I held it. I didn’t dream it would ever really help, but I put great faith in the scar that a trap would leave.
After that I went over to sleep with Amy. She moved as I crawled in by her, but didn’t wake. I was glad that I didn’t disturb her, for she had been to a party the night before which lasted longer than my birthday affair.
In the morning Amy got up without waking me and at ten aunt came in to sit down on the bed.
“Didn’t sleep very well?” she asked, eyeing me quite anxiously, I thought.
I said I hadn’t, very.
“Um----” she mused, and then: “Well, we’ll have a nice breakfast in bed after you’ve been in the tub. Use those bath salts the doctor gave you, dear--very relaxing. And I’ll hunt something for you to read.” She was very nice to me and I did so appreciate it.
“Evelyn wanted you to go driving with her; she’s decided to go out to-day; but I wouldn’t let her call you. Got up and had breakfast with her father this morning for some reason. Usually we don’t see her before ten on Sundays, but the young mind is a riddle. . . . Do you think you can go to sleep again after breakfast?”
I said I’d try.
“I’ll send Jane in to get you a fresh nightdress and to help you bathe,” said aunt as she stood up, and then she patted my cheek, murmured something of an engagement, and............
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