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“I’d like to know how the cat got into my china-closet”’ she said.
“Chasin’ mice, I guess,” Ethan rejoined. “There was a mouse round
the kitchen all last evening.”

Zeena continued to look from one to the other; then she emitted her
small strange laugh. “I knew the cat was a smart cat,” she said in a
high voice, “but I didn’t know he was smart enough to pick up the
pieces of my pickle-dish and lay ‘em edge to edge on the very shelf
he knocked ‘em off of.” Mattie suddenly drew her arms out of the
steaming water. “It wasn’t Ethan’s fault, Zeena! The cat did break
the dish; but I got it down from the china-closet, and I’m the one to
blame for its getting broken.” Zeena stood beside the ruin of her
treasure, stiffening into a stony image of resentment, “You got
down my pickle-dish-what for?” A bright flush flew to Mattie’s
cheeks. “I wanted to make the supper-table pretty,” she said.

“You wanted to make the supper-table pretty; and you waited till
my back was turned, and took the thing I set most store by of
anything I’ve got, and wouldn’t never use it, not even when the
minister come to dinner, or Aunt Martha Pierce come over from
Bettsbridge-” Zeena paused with a gasp, as if terrified by her own
evocation of the sacrilege. “You’re a bad girl, Mattie Silver, and I
always known it. It’s the way your father begun, and I was warned
of it when I took you, and I tried to keep my things where you
couldn’t get at ‘em-and now you’ve took from me the one I cared
for most of all-” She broke off in a short spasm of sobs that passed
and left her more than ever like a shape of stone.

“If I’d ‘a’ listened to folks, you’d ‘a’ gone before now, and this
wouldn’t ‘a’ happened,” she said; and gathering up the bits of
broken glass she went out of the room as if she carried a dead
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