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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 152 pages of information about Patty and Azalea.

“This sampler was worked in 1836, not 1636.”

“How do you know?”

“Very easily.  Here, you can see for yourself.  You see how the figures are made,—­ordinary cross stitch.  Well, as you know, an eight is worked almost exactly the same as a six, except that it has two more stitches on the upper right-hand side.  If those two stitches are picked out of an eight, it turns into a six!  Now, I’m sure your young eyes can see that two stitches have been picked out in this instance.  See the slight mark where the canvas is the least bit drawn?  And see, on the back a fresh stitch was necessary to keep the ends from ravelling.  It would pass to a careless observer, but to one accustomed to these things the fraud is plainly evident.”

“Oh, Mr. Greatorex,” and Elise looked sorrowful, “I don’t care so much about the sampler being less valuable than I thought, as I do about having to think the friend who gave it to me would cheat me!”

“Perhaps she didn’t.  Perhaps somebody cheated her.”

“No; she told me her mother gave her this, and that she had had it from her mother and grandmother—­and so forth.”

“Then I fear your friend knew of the fraud,—­though perhaps her mother gave it to her as it is now.”

“Can you judge if the stitches were picked out recently?”

“I should say very recently.  The canvas is faded, of course, but, as you see, the threads beneath where the missing stitches were is quite a shade lighter.  Had the picking been done years ago, the canvas would have assumed a uniform tinge,—­or nearly so.”

“Of course it would,—­I can see that for myself.  Oh, dear!—­Well, Mr. Greatorex, don’t say anything about this, will you?”

“Certainly not.  But that’s a good sampler, as it stands,—­I mean as a specimen of 1836 work.”

“Yes, I know it is.  And yet, oughtn’t the stitches to be put back?”

“Probably not,—­for they could not be matched exactly—­”

“But if it remains like this, everybody will think it two hundred years older than it really is.”

Mr. Greatorex smiled.  “Scarcely,” he said.  “You see, my dear, the earliest known dated sampler is one of 1643 which is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, in England.  There are but six or seven known in that century at all.  It would be remarkable, therefore, to find a work of art that would antedate all collections, and yet show the patterns and style of work common less than a hundred years ago!”

“Oh, I understand,—­I’ve read up on the matter somewhat,—­but I’m so sorry—­oh, I am so sorry!”

Elise looked woe-begone indeed, for she realised that Azalea had, in all probability committed the fraud herself, and with a deliberate intention of deceiving her.

Azalea’s own ignorance of the whole matter was so great, that it was not surprising that she thought the mere alteration of the date would make the sampler of greater value.  But what broke Elise’s heart was the knowledge of Azalea’s wilful deception.

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