With interest of a different kind she read in a later issue another passage, handed her by the grandmother with the remark, “to warn you, my dear.” The matter was a frothy bit of tragical romancing, purporting to have been gathered from two detectives out of their own experience of a year or so before, about a gift made to the Bazaar by Captain Kincaid, which had—“met our gaze jealously guarded under glass amid a brilliant collection of reliques, jewels, and bric-a-brac; a large, evil-looking knife still caked with the mud of the deadly affray, but bearing legibly in Italian on its blade the inscription, ’He who gets me in his body never need take a medicine,’ and with a hilt and scabbard encrusted with gems.”
Now, one of the things that made Madame Valcour good company among gentlewomen was her authoritative knowledge of precious stones. So when Flora finished reading and looked up, and the grandmother faintly smiled and shook her head, both understood.
“And the rest—not worth—?”
“Your stealing,” simpered the connoisseur, and, reading, herself, added meditatively, “I should hate anyhow, for you to have that thing. The devil would be always at your ear.”
The grandmother shrugged: “That depends. I look to see you rise, yet, to some crime of dignity; something really tragic and Italian. Whereas at present—” she pursed her lips and shrugged again.
The girl blandly laughed: “You venerable ingrate!”
At the Bazaar that evening, when Charlie and grandma and the crowd were gone, Flora handled the unlovely curiosity. She and Irby had seen Hilary and Anna and the Hyde & Goodrich man on guard just there draw near the glass case where it lay “like a snake on a log,” as Charlie had said, take it in their hands and talk of it. The jeweller was expressing confidentially a belief that it had once been set with real stones, and Hilary was privately having a sudden happy thought, when Flora and Adolphe came up only in time to hear the goldsmith’s statement of its present poor value.
“But surely,” said Kincaid, “this old jewellery lying all about it here—.”
“That? that’s the costliest gift in the Bazaar!”
Irby inquired whose it was, Anna called it anonymous, and Flora, divining that the giver was Anna, felt herself outrageously robbed. As the knife was being laid back in place she recalled, with odd interest, her grandmother’s mention of the devil, and remembered a time or two when for a moment she had keenly longed for some such bit of steel; something much more slender, maybe, and better fitting a dainty hand, but quite as long and sharp. A wave from this thought may have prompted Anna’s request that the thing be brought forth again and Flora allowed to finger it; but while this was being done Flora’s main concern was to note how the jeweller worked the hidden spring by which he opened the glass case. As she finally gave up the weapon: “Thank you,” she sweetly said to both Anna and Hilary, but with a meaning reserved to herself.