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Chapter XV--What Occurred
 Christmas-time in New York is simply gorgeous, and I loved it. And it was then that all the intense excitement started and that people began to understand what had made me nervous; but I must tell what happened before the holidays came. For a good many things occurred which proved to be notes in the chord of the big mystery. Once more my bracelet disappeared and reappeared, as it had before--at night. And this time the scratching woke me from a sound sleep, and, as before, I saw a tiny point of light caught in the gold, and in this way watched it creep about a foot inside of the room by my bed and then stop. And this time, after it had rested for a moment, it moved again with a jerk, for about two inches. Then, very quietly, the door at the head of my bed closed, and I heard the click of the door-knob, after which the key fell from the lock and clattered loudly on the floor. . . .
I lay there shaking and gasping, and wishing that even Amy were with me. But Amy and I were not good friends at that time. . . . Well, that night I got up, switched on my lights, and picked up the bracelet. I tried to be a sport, and so I said, “Hello; glad to see you back!” but my voice wasn’t the sort that should have gone with those words. Then I put the bracelet up and was just about to turn off the lights when I heard my door open perhaps an inch and close quickly. And I turned in time to see a hand reach in to get the flashlight which lay on the table by my bed.
Shakily I said, “Who is that?” but no one answered.
And I went to the door and looked out, but no one was in sight. . . . From down the hall I could hear Uncle Archie snoring, and then Amy coughed. Nothing was the matter with them. I closed my door and locked it, although I did not see what good locks would be against a force of the sort I was meeting. But--it seemed safer.
Every sound from the street rose to bother me and make me think that there was something outside the door. Every creak in the furniture made me jump. I sat huddled up in a big chair, warmly wrapped in a blanket, but shaking as if I had two hundred and nine chills all at once. And every once in a while I would think I heard a footstep in the hall.
“If this goes on,” I thought, “I do not see how I can stand it.” And at that time I decided to give up the bracelet and have peace. For everything looks blacker at night, and in those dark hours it is easy to give up and let yourself be beaten.
A half an hour after that, perhaps, I heard the beginning of day in the whir of motors, and nothing ever sounded so good to me. I wanted light, most terribly.
And as all things that seem as far away as graduation, or your first low-necked dress, or your first train, it eventually came, and then I lay down, and slept.
When I got up the next morning Aunt Penelope was nice to me for the first time since she thought I’d stolen Evelyn’s violets. That is, I mean she felt like being kind. Before, she had been elaborately polite, and as just as she could possibly be, but I felt that this was because she would be uncomfortable if she weren’t, not because her instincts pointed my way with gentleness. And I was so glad that I had to swallow a great many times as fast as possible, and couldn’t say good-morning to Uncle Archie, who got in with his greeting first and “Huh-ed” at me twice before I could respond.
“My dear child,” said Aunt Penelope, “are you ill?”
I said I was all right, I guessed, but that I hadn’t slept very well.
“Come here,” she said.
I did.
She took my hands in hers and then laid a hand on my cheek. “Hot,” she said. “Suppose we stay home from school to-day?”
I nodded.
“And do a little petting of ourselves?” she went on.
I said I thought that would be nice.
“Amy will take a note to Miss Gardner,” Aunt Penelope continued, “and we’ll be cosily fixed at home and have Doctor Vance come in.” And then she looked at me searchingly, patted my hand and sent me to my place. I didn’t eat much, I didn’t feel like it and I was too busy thinking, for I had decided, with daylight, that I would not give up. Uncle Archie got up, before we had finished, as he always does, and as he went by my place laid five dollars by it. I did think that was dear of him.
I asked if I might be excused, and followed him to the hall and here I thanked him. He grunted and looked over my head, and you can imagine my surprise when he said, “Guess you haven’t been very happy, lately, have you?”
I replied that I supposed it was my fault if I had not been, and then (I don’t know what made me, for I had become used to having people think wrong of me) I added, “I did not take those violets.”
“Huh----” he grunted.
“I don’t care enough for them,” I went on. “I prefer daisies to orchids, just as I prefer fishing to thé dansants.”
“Fishing,” said Uncle Archie, and he stared down at the surface of the hall table, which shines highly where it isn’t covered with a lovely piece of brocade. “I used to fish,” he said, “but my soul--that was a long time ago!” and he sighed. I got the impression that he had liked it lots, and I think it seemed to him as if it had happened a long time past in his life and that he had grown away from it in spirit too, and somehow couldn’t go back. I felt very sorry for him.
When I went back to the dining-room I found Evelyn just trailing in, wearing a négligé and looking pretty, but tired. She was fretful about a frock that had not come when she expected it and sat toying with her breakfast and complaining about everything. And as always, when she began this, ............
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