Read CHAPTER V - BON VOYAGE of Jewel A Chapter In Her Life , free online book, by Clara Louise Burnham, on ReadCentral.com.

At the dock next morning the scene was one of the usual confusion. The sailing time was drawing near and Mr. Evringham had not appeared.

Harry, with his little girl’s hand in his, stood at the foot of the gang plank, peering at every newcomer and growing more anxious every moment. Jewel occupied herself in throwing kisses to her mother, who stood at the rail far above, never taking her eyes from the little figure in the blue sailor suit.

The child noted her father’s set lips and the concentrated expression of his eyes.

“If grandpa doesn’t come what shall I do?” she asked without anxiety.

“You’ll go to England,” was the prompt response.

“Without my trunk!” returned the child in protest.

Her father looked again at the watch he held in his hand. The order to go ashore was sending all visitors down the gang plank. “By George, I guess you’re going, too,” he muttered between his teeth, when suddenly his father’s tall form came striding through the crowd. Mr. Evringham was carrying a long pasteboard box, and seemed breathless.

“Horse fell down. Devil of a time! Roses for your wife.”

Harry grasped the box, touched his father’s hand, kissed the child, and strode up the plank amid the frowns of officials.

Jewel’s eager eyes followed him, then, as he disappeared, lifted again to her mother, who smiled and waved her hand to Mr. Evringham. The latter raised his hat and took the occasion to wipe his heated brow. He was irritated through and through. The morning had been a chapter of accidents. Even the roses, which he had ordered the night before, had proved to be the wrong sort.

The suspense of the last fifteen minutes had been a distressing wrong to put upon any man. He had now before him the prospect of caring for a strange child, of taking her out of town at an hour when he should have been coming into it. She would probably cry. Very well; if she did he determined on the instant to ride out to Bel-Air in the smoking car, although he detested its odors and uncleanness. The whole situation was enormous. What a fool he had been, and what an intelligent woman was Mrs. Forbes! She had seen from the first the inappropriateness, the impossibility, of the whole proposition. His attention was attracted to the fact that the small figure at his side was hopping up and down with excitement.

“There’s father, there’s father!” she cried, as Harry joined his wife at the rail and they lifted the wealth of roses from the box and waved them.

“We’ve wronged him, Harry!” exclaimed Julia, trying to see the little face below through her misty eyes. “How I love him for bringing me these sweet things! It gives me such a different feeling about him.”

“Oh, father would as soon forget his breakfast as roses for a woman he was seeing off,” returned Harry without enthusiasm, while he waved his hat energetically.

The steamer pulled out. The faces in the crowd mingled and changed places.

“I’ve lost them, I’ve lost them!” cried Julia. “Oh, where are they, Harry.”

“Over there near the corner. I can see father. It’s all right, dear,” choking a little. “Jewel was skipping and laughing a minute ago. It will only be a few weeks, but confound it,” violently, “next time we’ll take her!”

Julia buried her face in the roses, on which twinkled a sudden dew, and tried to gather promise from their sweet breath.

Jewel strained her eyes to follow the now indistinguishable forms on the lofty deck, and her grandfather looked down at the small figure in the sailor suit, the short thick pigtails of flaxen hair tied with large bows of ribbon, and the doll clasped in one arm. At last the child turned her head and looked up, and their eyes met for the first time.

“Jove, she does look like Harry!” muttered Mr. Evringham, and even as he spoke the plain little face was illumined with the smile he knew, that surpassingly sweet smile which promised so much and performed nothing.

The child studied him with open, innocent curiosity.

“I can’t believe it’s you,” she said at last, in a voice light and winning, a voice as sweet as the smile.

“I don’t wonder. I don’t quite know myself this morning,” he replied brusquely.

“We have a picture of you, but it’s a long-ago one, and I thought by this time you would be old, and-and bent over, you know, the way grandpas are.”

Even in that place of drays and at eight o’clock A.M. these words fell not disagreeably upon irritated ears.

“I think myself Nature did not intend me to be a grandpa,” he replied.

“Oh, yes, you’re just the right kind,” returned the child hastily and confidently. “Strong and-and handsome.”

Mr. Evringham looked at her in amazement. “The little rascal!” he thought. “Has she been coached?”

“I suppose we may get away from here now,” he said aloud. “There’s nothing more to wait for.”

“Didn’t the roses make mother happy?” asked the little girl, trotting along beside his long strides. “I think it was wonderful for you to bring them so early in the morning.”

Mr. Evringham summoned a cab.

“Oh, are we gong in a carriage?” cried Jewel, highly pleased. “But I mustn’t forget, grandpa, there’s something father told me I must give you the first thing. Will you take Anna Belle a minute, please?” and Mr. Evringham found himself holding the doll fiercely by one leg while small hands worked at the catch of a very new little leather side-bag.

At last Jewel produced a brass square.

“Oh, your trunk check.” Mr. Evringham exchanged the doll for it with alacrity. “Get in.” He held open the cab door.

Jewel obeyed, but not without some misgivings when her guardian so coolly pocketed the check.

“Yes, it’s for my trunk,” she replied when her grandfather was beside her and they began rattling over the stones. “I have a checked silk dress,” she added softly, after a pause. It were well to let him know the value of her baggage.

“Have you indeed? How old are you, Julia? Your name is Julia, I believe?”

“Yes, sir, my name’s Julia, but so is mother’s, and they call me Jewel. I’m nearly nine, grandpa.”

“H’m. Time flies,” was the brief response.

Jewel looked out of the cab window in the noisy silence that followed. At last her voice was raised to sound through the clatter. “I suppose my trunk is somewhere else,” she said suggestively.

“Yes, your trunk will reach home all right, plaid silk and all.”

Jewel smiled, and lifting the doll she let her look out the window upon the uninviting prospect. “Anna Belle’s clothes are in the trunk, too,” she added, turning and speaking confidentially.

“Whose?” asked Mr. Evringham, startled. “There’s no one else coming, I suppose?”

“Why, this is Anna Belle,” returned the child, laughing and lifting the bisque beauty so that the full radiance of her smile beamed upon her companion. “That’s your great-grandfather, dearie, that I’ve told you about,” she said patronizingly. “We’ve been so excited the last few days since we knew we were coming,” looking again at Mr. Evringham. “I’ve told Anna Belle all about beautiful Bel-Air Park, and the big house, and the big trees, and the ravine, and the brook. Isn’t it nice,” joyfully, “that it doesn’t rain to-day, and we shall see it in the sunshine?”

“Rain would have made it more disagreeable certainly,” returned Mr. Evringham, congratulating himself that he was escaping that further rain of tears which he had dreaded. “It is a good day for your father and mother to set out on their trip,” he added.

“Yes, and they’re only to be gone six little weeks,” returned Jewel, smoothing her doll’s boa; “and I’m to have this lovely visit, and I’m to write them very often, and they’ll write to me, and we shall all be so happy!” Jewel trotted Anna Belle on her short-skirted knee and hummed a tune, which was lost in the rattle of wheels.

“You can read and write, eh?”

“Oh ye-es!” replied the child with amused scorn. “How would I get my lessons if I couldn’t read? Of course-big words,” she added conscientiously.

“Precisely,” agreed Mr. Evringham dryly. “Big words, I dare say.”

A sudden thought occurring to his companion, she looked up again.

“You pretty nearly didn’t come,” she said, “and just think, if you hadn’t I was going to England. Father said so.”

At the sweet inflections of the child’s voice Mr. Evringham’s brows contracted with remembrance of his wrongs. “I should have come. Your father might have known that!”

“I suppose he wouldn’t have liked to leave me sitting on the dock alone, but I should have known you’d come. The funny part is I shouldn’t have known you.” Jewel laughed. “I should have kept looking for an old man with white hair and a cane like Grandpa Morris. He’s a grandpa in Chicago that I know. He’s just as kind as he can be, but he has the queerest back. He goes to our church, but says he came in at the eleventh hour. I think he used to have rheumatism. And while I was sitting there you could have walked right by me.”

“Humph!”

“But then you’d have known me,” went on Jewel, straightening Anna Belle’s hat, “so it would have been all right. You’d have known there would be only one little girl waiting there, and you would have said, ‘Oh, here you are, Jewel. I’ve come. I’m your grandpa.’” The child unconsciously mimicked the short, brusque speech.

Mr. Evringham regarded her rather darkly. “Eh? I hope you’re not impudent?”

“What’s that?” asked Jewel doubtfully.

Her companion’s brow grew darker.

“Impudent I say.”

“And what is impudent?”

“Don’t you know?” suspiciously.

“No, sir,” replied the child, some anxiety clouding her bright look. “Is it error?”

Mr. Evringham regarded her rather blankly. “It’s something you mustn’t be,” he replied at last.

Jewel’s face cleared. “Oh no, I won’t then,” she replied earnestly. “You tell me when I’m-it, because I want to make you happy.”

Mr. Evringham cleared his throat. He felt somewhat embarrassed and was glad they had reached the ferry.

“We’re going on a boat, aren’t we?” she asked when they had passed through the gate.

“Yes, and we can make this boat if we hurry.” Mr. Evringham suddenly felt a little hand slide into his. Jewel was skipping along beside him to keep up with his long strides, and he glanced down at the bobbing flaxen head with its large ribbon bows, while the impulse to withdraw his hand was thwarted by the closer clinging of the small fingers.

“Father told me about the ferry,” said Jewel with satisfaction, “and you’ll show me the statue of Liberty won’t you, grandpa? Isn’t it a splendid boat? Oh, can we go out close to the water?”

Mr. Evringham sighed heavily. He did not wish to go out close to the water. He wished to sit down in comfort in the cabin and read the paper which he had just taken from a newsboy. It seemed to him a very long time since he had done anything he wished to; but a little hand was pulling eagerly at his, and mechanically he followed out to where the brisk spring wind ruffled the river and assaulted his hat. He jerked his hand from Jewel’s to hold it in place.

“Isn’t this beautiful!” cried the child joyfully, as the boat steamed on. “Can you do this every day, grandpa?”

“What? Oh yes, yes.”

Something in the tone caused the little girl to look up from her view of the wide water spaces to the grim face above.

“Is there something that makes you sorry, grandpa?” she asked softly.

His eyes were fixed on a ferry boat, black with its human freight, about to pass them on its way to the city.

“I was wishing I were on that boat. That’s all.”

The little girl lifted her shoulders. “I don’t believe there’s room,” she said, looking smilingly for a response from her companion. “I don’t believe even Anna Belle could squeeze on. Do you think so?”

Mr. Evringham, holding his hat with one hand, was endeavoring to fetter the lively corners of his newspaper in such shape that he could at least get a glimpse of headlines.

“Oh, I see a statue. Is that it, grandpa? Is that it?”

“What?” vaguely. “Oh yes. The statue of Liberty. Yes, that’s it. As if there was any liberty for anybody!” muttered Mr. Evringham into his mustache.

“It isn’t so very big,” objected Jewel.

“We’re not so very near it.”

“Just think,” gayly, “father and mother are sailing away just the way we are.”

“H’m,” returned Mr. Evringham, trying to read the report of the stock market, and becoming more impatient each instant with the sportive breeze.

“Julia,” he said at last, “I am going into the cabin to read the paper. Will you go in, or do you wish to stay here?”

“May I stay here?”

“Yes,” doubtfully, “I suppose so, if you won’t climb on the rail, or-or anything.”

Jewel laughed in gleeful appreciation of the joke. Her grandfather met her blue eyes unsmilingly and vanished.

“I wish grandpa didn’t look so sorry,” she thought regretfully. “He is a very important man, grandpa is, and perhaps he has a lot of error to meet and doesn’t know how to meet it.”

Watching the dancing waves and constantly calling Anna Belle’s attention to some point of interest on the water front or a passing craft, she nevertheless pursued a train of thought concerning her important relative, with the result that when the gong sounded for landing, and Mr. Evringham’s impassive countenance reappeared, she met him with concern.

“Doesn’t it make you sorry to read the morning paper, grandpa?”

“Sometimes. Depends on the record of the Exchange.” There was somewhat less of the irritation of a newsless man in the morning in the speaker’s tone.

“Mother calls the paper the Daily Saddener,” pursued Jewel, again slipping her hand into her grandfather’s as a matter of course as they moved slowly off the boat. “I’ve been thinking that perhaps you’re in a hurry to get to business, grandpa.”

The child did not quote his words about the ingoing ferry boat lest he should feel regret at having spoken them.

“Well, there’s no use in my being in a hurry this morning,” he returned.

“I was going to ask, couldn’t you show me how to go to Bel-Air, so you wouldn’t have to take so much time?”

A gleam of hope came into Mr. Evringham’s cold eyes and he looked down on his companion doubtfully.

“We have to go out on the train,” he said.

“Yes,” returned the child, “but you could put me on it, and every time it stops I would ask somebody if that was Bel-Air.”

The prospect this offered was very pleasing to the broker.

“You wouldn’t be afraid, eh?”

“Be what?” asked Jewel, looking up at him with a certain reproachful surprise.

“You wouldn’t, eh?”

“Why, grandpa!”

“Well, I believe it would do well enough, since you don’t mind. Zeke is going to meet this train. I’ll tell the conductor to see that you get off at Bel-Air, and when you do, ask for Mr. Evringham’s coachman. You’ll see Zeke, a light-haired man driving a brown horse in a brougham. He’ll take you home to his mother, Mrs. Forbes. She is my housekeeper. Now, do you think you’ll understand?”

“It sounds very easy,” returned Jewel.

Mr. Evringham’s long legs and her short skipping ones lost no time in boarding the train, which they found made up. The relieved man saw the conductor, paid the child’s fare, and settled her on the plush seat.

She sat there, contentedly swinging her feet.

“Now I can just catch a boat if I leave you immediately,” said Mr. Evringham consulting his watch. “You’ve only a little more than five minutes to wait before the train starts.”

“Then hurry, grandpa, I’m all right.”

“Very well. Your fare is paid, and the conductor understands. You might ask somebody, though. Bel-Air, you know. Good-by.”

Hastily he strode down the aisle and left the train. Having to pass the window beside which Jewel sat, he glanced up with a half uneasy memory of how far short of the floor her feet had swung.

She was watching for him. On her lips was the sweet gay smile and-yes, there was no mistake-Anna Belle’s countenance was beaming through the glass, and she was wafting kisses to Mr. Evringham from a stiff and chubby hand. The stockbroker grew warm, cleared his throat, lifted his hat, and hurried his pace.