Betty Gordon at Mountain Camp/Chapter 7
ALL MRS. STAPLES COULD SAY
The two girls sought out Bob Henderson before breakfast and told him of the disappearance of Betty's beautiful little locket. Betty's eyes were a little swollen and even Bobby seemed not to have passed a very agreeable night. Bob was quite shrewd enough to see these evidences of trouble and he refrained from making any remark even in fun to ruffle the girls.
"Here's a pretty mess!" exclaimed Bob, but cheerfully. "And we all going to Mountain Camp to-morrow if Mrs. Canary telegraphs 'Yes.' Hunted everywhere, I suppose?"
"Yes, Bob," Betty assured him. "And there was but one place to hunt. In my bag."
"Carried it loose in your bag, did you?" he asked reflectively.
"Wrapped up in white tissue paper. You know, the box it came in got broken."
"I remember. Gee, Betty! that's an awfully pretty locket. You don't want to lose it."
"But I have lost it!"
"For keeps, I mean," rejoined Bob, smiling encouragingly. "Come on! Let's see the bag. Where did you carry it? When was the last time you saw the locket in the bag and where?"
"Oh!" Betty cried suddenly. "I remember it was in the bag when I was shopping yesterday."
"Shopping where? Let's hear about the last place you remember seeing it."
Betty remembered very clearly seeing the twist of paper with the locket in it while she was at Purcell's where she had bought some veiling.
"Then, Betty," said Bobby, "you went to that little store afterward, you said, where you got the over-blouse."
"Ye—es. But I didn't notice it while I was there. I was so excited over the blouse and so interested in Ida Bellethorne that I don't remember of looking in my bag to see if my locket was safe."
"'Ida Bellethorne'?" repeated Bob in surprise. "Why! that's the name of Mr. Lewis Bolter's new mare from England. I heard Mr. Littell and Uncle Dick talking about her."
"And I met a girl named Ida Bellethorne. I'll tell you all about her later. Bob," said Betty. "Just now I want to know what to do about the locket."
"I should say you did! And I'll tell you what," Bob said promptly. "Right after breakfast we'll borrow the little car and I'll take you over to Georgetown and we'll go to every place you went to yesterday, Betty, and inquire. I'm allowed to drive in the District of Columbia, you know."
"Will you, Bob?" cried Betty. "Do you think there is any chance of our finding it?"
"Why not? If it was picked up in one of the stores you went to. There are lots more honest people in the world than there are dishonest. Come on now, don't cry."
"I'm not going to cry," declared Betty. "I've cried enough already. Don't tell the others. Bob. Nor Uncle Dick. I don't want him to know if I can help it. It looks just as though I didn't prize his present enough to take care of it."
Somehow, Betty felt encouraged by Bob's taking hold of the matter. The small car was secured after breakfast and Bob and the two girls set off for the other side of the river. It was not alone because of Bob's advice that they stopped first at the little neighborhood shop on the hilly side street where Betty had bought her sweater. Bobby was anxious to see her blue sweater, and the two girls ran in as soon as the car halted before the door.
The little bell over it jingled pleasantly at their entrance; but it was a tall and rather grim-looking woman who came from the back of the shop to meet them instead of the English girl with whom Betty had dealt on her former visit.
"Humph!" said Mrs. Staples, for it was she, when she spied the over-blouse under Betty's coat. "You are the young lady who was to purchase the blue blouse when it was finished?"
"For my friend here," said Betty, bringing Bobby forward. "I know she will like it."
"I hope so," said Mrs. Staples. "It is finished. Ida sat up most of the night to finish it. Here it is," and she displayed the dark blue blouse for the girls to see.
"How lovely!" ejaculated Bobby eagerly. "I like it even better than I do your orange one, Betty. It's sweet."
"It's twelve dollars, Miss," said the shop woman promptly. "You can pay me and take the blouse. I paid Ida for it."
"Isn't the girl who made it here?" asked Betty anxiously.
"No, she ain't," said Mrs. Staples in her blunt way. "She left an hour ago."
"Oh! Will she come back?"
"I don't expect her. I am sure I cannot be changing help all the time. She left me very abruptly. I did not ask her to come back."
"Why," said Betty, wonderingly, "I thought you were her friend. Isn't she all alone in this country?"
"She is a girl who seems quite able to take care of herself," the grim shopwoman said. "Or she is determined to try. I advised her to write to her aunt——"
"Then she has an aunt over here?" cried Betty eagerly.
"So she thinks. An aunt for whom Ida was named. There was some family trouble, and Ida's father and her father's sister seem to have had nothing to do with each other for some years. The aunt Is a singer—quite a noted concert singer, it seems. Ida came to Washington expecting to find her. She did not find the elder Ida Bellethorne——"
"Then there are three Ida Bellethornes!" whispered Bobby in Betty's ear.
"So she came here to help me," continued Mrs. Staples, all the time watching Betty with a rather strange manner. "She would better have remained with me, as I told her. But she found in the paper last night this notice," the woman produced a torn piece of paper from the counter and handed it to Betty, "and nothing would do but Ida must go right away to find the place and the person mentioned here."
The two girls in great interest bent their heads above the piece of paper. The marked paragraph was one of several in the column and read as follows:
"It is stated upon good authority that the great Ida Bellethorne will arrive at Cliffdale, New York, within a day or two, and will remain for the winter."
"Why, how odd," murmured Betty. "And did this make Ida go away?"
"She has gone to Cliffdale to meet her aunt. That was her intention," said Mrs. Staples. "Are either of you young ladles prepared to buy this blue blouse?"
"Oh, yes, indeed!" cried Bobby, who had taken a fancy to the blouse. "I've got money enough. And it was nice of Miss Bellethorne to finish it for me before she went. I wish I might thank her personally."
"I do not expect to see Ida again," the shopwoman repeated in her most severe manner, wrapping up the over-blouse. "Twelve dollars—thank you. Miss. Can I show you anything else?"
"Wait!" gasped Betty. "I want to ask you—I wanted to ask Ida Bellethorne if she saw me drop anything here in the store yesterday?"
"I am sorry she is not here to answer that question," said Mrs. Staples. "I was not here when you came, Miss."
"No, I know you weren't. But somewhere while I was shopping yesterday I lost something out of my bag. If it dropped out here——"
"I can assure you I picked up nothing, Miss," declared the shop woman.
"If Ida Bellethorne did, she is not here, unfortunately, to tell you," said Mrs. Staples in her same manner and without a change of expression on her hard face.
"Oh, dear!" sighed Betty.
"But you don't know that you dropped it here," Bobby said to encourage her. But perhaps it encouraged Mrs. Staples more!
"I have nothing more to say, Miss," the woman declared. "Ida not being here——"
"Oh, well," said Betty, trying to speak more cheerfully, "it is true I do not remember having seen it while I was here at all. So—so we will go to the other places. Of course, if Ida had found anything she would have told you?"
"I cannot be responsible for what Ida Bellethorne would do or say," replied the shopwoman grimly. "Not having been here myself when you came, Miss——"
"Oh, yes! I understand," said Betty hastily. "Well, thank you for keeping the blouse for us. Good-bye."
She and Bobby were not greatly pleased with Mrs. Staples. But they had no reason for distrusting her. When they had gone the shopwoman smiled a most wintry smile.
"Well, I am not supposed to tell people how to go about their own aftairs, I should hope," was her thought. "That chit never told me what she had lost. It might have been a pair of shoes or a boiled lobster! Humph! Folks would better speak plain in this world. I always do, I am sure."