“Elise,” said Azalea, as she appeared at the door of the cabin, “here’s my contribution to your department. I haven’t had a chance to give it to you before.” She handed out a parcel, which Elise opened eagerly.
It proved to be a sampler,—old, but in fine condition. It was an elaborate one, with many rows of letters, some lines of verse, and several little pictured shapes. There was a beautiful border, and the signature was Isabel Cutler, 1636!
“Oh!” exclaimed Elise, “what a gem! Where did you get it? Why, Azalea, this is a museum piece! 1636! It’s worth hundreds of dollars!”
“Oh, no,” said Azalea, “it can’t be worth all that! But I thought you’d like an old one.”
“But I don’t understand! Where did you get it?”
“It was my grandmother’s.”
“But your grandmother didn’t live in 1636!”
“N—n—no,—I s’pose not. Well,—you see, she had it from her grandmother and great-grandmother,—clear back,—you know.”
“I see,” said Elise, scrutinising the sampler. “It’s a marvel, Azalea. You mustn’t sell it at this Fair. It ought to go to a museum. 1636! That’s one of the earliest sampler dates! I can’t see how it’s lain unknown all these years. Who had it before you did?”
“Oh, yes,—of course. Well, I’m not going to take it from you—”
“Yes, you are, Elise. I want to give it to you. I’ve wanted all along to give you something nice,—you’ve been so good to me—”
“Rubbish! don’t talk like that, Zaly! If you want to make Patty a present, now,—give it to her. That would be a worth-while return for her kindness to you.”
“Oh, I don’t think so much of the old thing as you do. I don’t even think it’s pretty.”
“It isn’t a question of prettiness, or even of a well worked piece. It’s the date. And this is genuine,—I can see that. But I can’t understand it! Why,—I think this border wasn’t used until—I must look it up in my book. That’s home in New York. But, there’s one thing sure and certain! This doesn’t get put in with my bunch of wares! Mr. Greatorex may come this afternoon. He’s an expert on these things. He’ll know just what it’s worth.”
“Oh, Elise,” Azalea looked troubled, “don’t take it so seriously. It’s just an old thing. You’ve others here that are far handsomer.”
“As I told you, Zaly, it’s the age that counts,—not the beauty. Run along to your own booth. I’ll lay this aside until I can find out about it. But if it’s as valuable as I think it is, you mustn’t give it to Vanity Fair,—or to anybody. 1636! My!”
Azalea looked a little crestfallen. Instead of being glad at the unexpected value ascribed to her gift, she seemed decidedly put out about it. She strolled round by Patty’s booth. That enterprising young matron had caused to be built for her use a little child’s playhouse. It was just large enough for half a dozen children, and would perhaps hold nearly as many grown people. But it had a good-sized verandah and on this were tables piled with the loveliest fairy-like gossamer garments and comforts for tiny mites of humanity. Such exquisite blankets and afghans and tufted silk coverlets and such dainty frocks and caps and little coats and everything an infant could possibly use, from baskets to bibs and from pillows to porringers.