Copy-Cat and Other Stories HTML version
The Amethyst Comb
MISS JANE CAREW was at the railroad station waiting for the New York train. She was
about to visit her friend, Mrs. Viola Longstreet. With Miss Carew was her maid,
Margaret, a middleaged New England woman, attired in the stiffest and most correct of
maid-uniforms. She carried an old, large sole-leather bag, and also a rather large sole-
leather jewel-case. The jewel-case, carried openly, was rather an unusual sight at a New
England railroad station, but few knew what it was. They concluded it to be Margaret's
special handbag. Margaret was a very tall, thin woman, unbending as to carriage and
expression. The one thing out of absolute plumb about Margaret was her little black
bonnet. That was askew. Time had bereft the woman of so much hair that she could
fasten no head-gear with security, especially when the wind blew, and that morning there
was a stiff gale. Margaret's bonnet was cocked over one eye. Miss Carew noticed it.
"Margaret, your bonnet is crooked," she said.
Margaret straightened her bonnet, but immediately the bonnet veered again to the side,
weighted by a stiff jet aigrette. Miss Carew observed the careen of the bonnet, realized
that it was inevitable, and did not mention it again. Inwardly she resolved upon the
removal of the jet aigrette later on. Miss Carew was slightly older than Margaret, and
dressed in a style somewhat beyond her age. Jane Carew had been alert upon the situation
of departing youth. She had eschewed gay colors and extreme cuts, and had her bonnets
made to order, because there were no longer anything but hats in the millinery shop. The
milliner in Wheaton, where Miss Carew lived, had objected, for Jane Carew inspired
"A bonnet is too old for you. Miss Carew," she said. "Women much older than you wear
"I trust that I know what is becoming to a woman of my years, thank you. Miss Waters,"
Jane had replied, and the milliner had meekly taken her order.
After Miss Carew had left, the milliner told her girls that she had never seen a woman so
perfectly crazy to look her age as Miss Carew. "And she a pretty woman, too," said the
milliner; "as straight as an arrer, and slim, and with all that hair, scarcely turned at all."
Miss Carew, with all her haste to assume years, remained a pretty woman, softly slim,
with an abundance of dark hair, showing little gray. Sometimes Jane reflected, uneasily,
that it ought at her time of life to be entirely gray. She hoped nobody would suspect her
of dyeing it. She wore it parted in the middle, folded back smoothly, and braided in a
compact mass on the top of her head. The style of her clothes was slightly behind the
fashion, just enough to suggest conservatism and age. She carried a little silver-bound
bag in one nicely gloved hand; with the other she held daintily out of the dust of the
platform her dress-skirt. A glimpse of a silk frilled petticoat, of slender feet, and ankles
delicately slim, was visible before the onslaught of the wind. Jane Carew made no futile