Read CHAPTER XIV - FAMILY AFFAIRS of Jewel A Chapter In Her Life , free online book, by Clara Louise Burnham, on ReadCentral.com.

He continued to watch the child furtively, while she made her arrangements for writing. Finding that no chair in the room would bring her to a proper height for the table, she looked all about, and finally skipped over to the morocco lounge and tugged from it a pillow almost too heavy for her to carry; but she arrived with it at the chair, much to the amusement of Mr. Evringham, who affected absorption in his papers, while he enjoyed the exhibition of the child’s energy and independence.

“She’s the kind that ‘makes old shears cut,’ as my mother used to say,” he mused, and turning, the better to view the situation, he found Jewel mounted on her perch and watching him fixedly.

She looked relieved. “I didn’t want to disturb you, grandpa, but may I ask one question?”

“Yes.”

“Did I consult Dr. Ballard this afternoon?”

“Not that I noticed,” returned Mr. Evringham; and Jewel suspected from his expression that she had said something amusing.

“Well, it was a word that sounded like consult that Mrs. Forbes said I did.”

“Insult, perhaps,” suggested Mr. Evringham.

“Oh yes. How do you spell it, grandpa?”

Mr. Evringham told her, and added dryly, “That was rather too strong language for Mrs. Forbes to apply to the fact.”

“Yes,” replied the child. “I knew it was a hating word.” Then without further parley she squared her elbows on the table and bent over her sheet of paper.

“I wonder what version of it she’ll give her mother,” thought the broker, rummaging vaguely in the pigeon holes of his desk. His labors finally sifted down to the unearthing of a late novel from a drawer at his right hand, and lowering a convenient, green-shaded electric light, he lit his cigar, and was soon lost in the pages of the story.

At last he became conscious that the pencil at the table had ceased to move, and lowering his book he looked up. His granddaughter had been watching for this happy event, and she no sooner met his eyes than, with a smile of satisfaction, she jumped from her morocco perch and brought him a sheet of paper well and laboriously covered.

“I suppose it isn’t all spelled right,” she said. “I didn’t want to disturb you to ask; but will you please direct this to Dr. Ballard?”

“To Dr. Ballard!” repeated Mr. Evringham. His curiosity impelled him. “Shall I see if it is spelled right?”

Jewel assenting, he read the following in a large and waving hand.

DEAR DOCTOR BALUD-Mrs. Forbs felt bad because I did not take your Medsin. She said it was an insult. I want to tell you I did not meen an Insult. We can’t help loving God beter than any body, but I love you and if I took any medsin I would rather take yours than any boddy’s. Mrs. Forbs says you will send a big Bill to Grandpa and that it was error to waist it. Please send the Bill to me because I have Plenty of munny, and I shall love to pay you. You were very kind and did not put any thing on my Tung.

Your loving JEWEL.

Mr. Evringham continued to look at the signature for a minute before he spoke. Jewel was leaning against his arm and reading with him. The last lines slanted deeply, there being barely room in the lower corner for the writer’s name.

“I can’t write very straight without lines,” she said.

“You do very well indeed,” he returned. “About that bill, Jewel,” he added after a moment. “Perhaps you would better let me pay it. I believe you said you had three dollars, but even that won’t last forever, you know. You’ve spent some of it, too. How much, now?”

“I’ve spent fifty cents.” Jewel cast a furtive look around at the chicken, “And, oh yes, fifty cents more for the telegram. How much do you think Dr. Ballard’s bill will be?”

“I think it will take every cent you have left,” returned Mr. Evringham, gravely, curious to hear what his granddaughter would say in this dilemma.

Her reply came promptly and even eagerly. “Well, that’s all right, because Divine Love will send me more if I need it.”

“Indeed? How can you be sure?”

Jewel smiled at him affectionately. “Do you mean it grandpa?”

“Why yes. I really want to know.”

“Even after God sent you Essex Maid?” she asked incredulously.

“You think the mare is the best thing in my possession, eh?”

“Ye-es! Don’t you?”

“I believe I do.” As Mr. Evringham spoke, this kinship of taste induced him to turn his face toward the one beside him. Instantly he found himself kissed full on the lips, and while he was recovering from the shock, Jewel proceeded:-

“God has given you so many things, grandpa, that’s why it surprised me to have you look so sorry when I first came.” The child examined his countenance critically. “I don’t think you look so sorry as you used to. I know you must have lots of error to meet, and perhaps,” lowering her voice to an extra gentleness, “perhaps you don’t know how to remember every minute that God is a very present help in trouble. Mother says that even grown-up people are just finding out about it.”

As she paused Mr. Evringham hesitated, somewhat embarrassed under the blue eyes. “We all have plenty to learn, I dare say,” he returned vaguely.

He had more than once wished that he had taken more notice of Harry’s wife during his opportunity at the hotel. He had looked upon the interview as a distasteful necessity to be disposed of as cursorily as possible.

His son had married beneath him, some working girl probably, whose ability to support herself had turned out to be a deliverance for her father-in-law when the ne’er-do-well husband shirked his responsibilities; and Mr. Evringham had gone to the hotel that evening intending to make it clear that although he performed a favor for his son, there were no results to follow.

His granddaughter’s fearlessness, courtesy, and affection had forced him to wonder as to the mother who had fostered these qualities. He remembered the eloquence of his son’s face when Harry expressed the wish that he might know Julia, and a vague admiration and respect were being born in the broker’s heart for the deserted woman who had worked with hand and brain for her child-his grandchild was the way he put it-with such results as he saw.

Some perception of what Harry’s sensations must have been during the last six months came to him as he sat there with the little girl’s arm about him. Harry had come home and discovered his child, his Jewel. A frown gathered on the broker’s brow as he realized the hours of vain regret his son must have suffered for those lost years of the child’s life.

“Served him right, served him perfectly right!”

“What grandpa?”

The question made Mr. Evringham aware that the indignant words had been muttered above his breath.

“I was thinking of your father,” he replied. “Has he learned these things that your mother has taught you?”

“Oh yes,” with soft eagerness; “father is learning everything.” Jewel saw her grandfather’s frown and she lowered her voice almost to a whisper. “Don’t feel sorry about father, grandpa. He says he’s the happiest man in the world. Mother didn’t find out about God till after father had gone to California, or he wouldn’t have gone; and for a long time she didn’t know where he was, and I was only beginning to walk around, so I couldn’t help her; but when I got bigger I had father’s picture, and we used to talk to it every day, and at last mother knew that Divine Love would bring father back; and pretty soon he began to write to her, and he said he couldn’t come home because he felt so sorry, and he was going to the war. So then mother and I prayed a great deal every day, and we knew father would be taken care of. And then mother kept writing to him not to be sorry, because error was nothing and the child of God could always have his right place, and everything like that, and at last the war was over and he came home.” Jewel paused.

Mr. Evringham wondered what she was seeing with that far-away look.

Presently she turned to him with the smile of irresistible sweetness-Harry’s smile-and a surprising fullness came in the broker’s throat. “Father’s just splendid,” she finished.

Her grandfather was not wholly pleased with the verdict. He had gained a taste for incense himself.

“He has been at home over six months, I believe,” he returned.

“Yes, all winter; and we have more fun!”

“Your father is not a Christian Scientist, I presume,” remarked Mr. Evringham.

“Oh yes, he’s learning to be. Of course he goes to church-”

“He does, eh?” put in the broker, surprised.

“Of course; and he studies the lesson with us every day. He had been sorry so much and so long, you know, mother said he was all ready; and beside-beside”-Jewel hesitated and became silent.

“Beside what?”

She began very softly and half reluctantly. “Father had a sickness two or three times when he first came home, and he was healed, and so he was very grateful and wanted to know about God.”

“H’m. I’m glad he was. I hope he will make your mother very happy after this.”

“He does.” The child lost her seriousness and laughed reminiscently. “Father and I have the best times. Mothers says he’s younger than I am.”

“You miss him, eh?” Mr. Evringham half frowned into the fresh little face.

“Oh yes, I do,” with a sigh, “but it would be error to be sorry when I could come to see you, grandpa.”

Mr. Evringham cogitated a minute on the probable loneliness of the last three days, and began to wonder what this philosophy could be which gave practical help to a child of eight years. He was still holding the letter to Dr. Ballard in his hand.

“I think I’ll let you direct this yourself, Jewel,” he said. He rose and brought the morocco cushion to his desk chair. “Sit up here and I will tell you the address.”

She obeyed, and Mr. Evringham watched the little fingers clenched around the pen as she strove to resist its tendency to write down hill on the envelope.

“And you’re quite sure that more money will be forthcoming when yours is gone, eh?” he asked when the feat was accomplished.

“Oh yes; if I need it.”

“How will it come, for instance?”

She looked up quickly. “I don’t need to know that,” she replied.

Mr. Evringham bit his lip. “That’s unanswerable,” he thought, “and rather neat.”

At this moment a knock sounded at the library door, and a moment afterward Mrs. Forbes presented herself.

“Excuse me, Mr. Evringham. I’m afraid Julia has been in your way, staying so long.”

“No, Mrs. Forbes, thank you,” he returned. “She had a letter to write, and I have been reading.”

“Very well. It is her bedtime now.” The housekeeper’s tone was inexorable, and Jewel lifted her shoulders as she glanced up at her grandfather, and again he found himself taken into a confidence which excluded his excellent housekeeper. “It is better for us to yield,” said Jewel’s shoulders and mute lips. Before Mr. Evringham could suspect her intention, she had jumped up on the cushion nimbly as a squirrel, and hugging him in a business-like manner, kissed him twice.

“Good-night, grandpa.”

“Good-night, Jewel,” he returned, going to the length of patting her shoulder.

She jumped down and ran to Mrs. Forbes. “You needn’t come with me, you know,” she said, holding up her face. Mrs. Forbes hesitated a moment. She had not as yet recovered from this latest liberty taken with the head of the house.

“Let me feel of your hands, Julia.” She took them in hers and touched the child’s cheeks and forehead as well. “You seem to feel all right, do you?”

“Yes’m.”

“No soreness or pain anywhere?”

“No’m. Good-night, Mrs. Forbes.”

The housekeeper stooped from her height and accepted the offered kiss.

“Do you prefer to go alone, Jewel? Isn’t it lonely for you?” asked Mr. Evringham.

“No-o, grandpa! Anna Belle is up there.”

“You’re not afraid of the dark then?”

Jewel looked at the speaker, uncertain of his seriousness. He seemed in earnest, however. “The dark is easy to drive away in this house,” she replied. “It is so interesting, just like a treatment. The room seems full of darkness, error, and I just turn the switch,” she illustrated with thumb and finger in the air, “and suddenly-there isn’t any darkness! It’s all bright and happy, just like me to-day!”

“Indeed!” returned Mr. Evringham, standing with his feet apart and his arms folded. “Is that what the lady in Chicago did for you to-day?”

“Yes, grandpa,” Jewel nodded eagerly. She was so glad to have him understand. “She just turned the light, Truth, right into me.”

“She prayed to the Creator to cure you, you mean.”

Jewel looked off. “No, not that,” she answered slowly, searching for words to make her meaning plain. “God doesn’t have to be begged to do anything, because He can’t change, He is always the same, and always perfect, and always giving us everything good, and it’s only for us-not to believe-in the things that seem to get in the way. I was believing there was something in the way, and that lady knew there wasn’t, and she knew it so well that the old dark fever couldn’t stay. Nothing can stay that God doesn’t make-not any longer than we let it cheat us.”

“And she was a thousand miles away,” remarked Mr. Evringham.

“Why, grandpa,” returned Jewel, “there isn’t any space in Spirit.” She gave a little sigh. “I’m real sorry you’re too big to be let into the Christian Science Sunday-School.”

Mrs. Forbes lips fell apart.

“One moment more, Jewel,” said Mr. Evringham. “Mrs. Forbes was telling me of the gentleman who spoke to you on the trolley car yesterday.”

“Oh yes,” returned the child, smiling at the pleasing memory. “The Christian Scientist!”

“What makes you think he is a Christian Scientist?” asked Mr. Evringham.

“I know he was. He had on the pin.” Jewel showed the one she wore, and her grandfather examined the little cross and crown curiously.

“I wonder if it’s possible,” he soliloquized aloud.

“Oh yes, grandpa, he is one, and if he’s a friend of yours he can explain to you so much better than a little girl can.”

After the child had left the room Mr. Evringham and his housekeeper stood regarding one another. His usually unsmiling countenance was relaxed. Mrs. Forbes observed his novel expression, but did not suspect that the light twinkling in his deep-set eyes was partly due to the sight of her own pent-up emotion.

He hooked one thumb in his vest and balanced his eyeglasses in his other hand.

“Well, what do you think of her?” he inquired.

“I think, sir,” returned the housekeeper emphatically, “that if anybody bought that child for a fool he wouldn’t get his money’s worth.”

“Even though she is a Scientist?” added Mr. Evringham, his mustache curving in a smile.

“She’s too smart for me. I don’t like children to be so smart. The idea of her setting up to teach you Mr. Evringham!”

“That shouldn’t be so surprising. I read a long time ago something about certain things being concealed from the wise and prudent and revealed unto babes.”

“Babes!” repeated Mrs. Forbes. “We’ve been the babes. If that young one can lie in bed with a fever, and wind every one of us around her finger the way she’s done to-day, what can we expect when she’s up and around?”

The broker laughed. “She’s an Evringham, an Evringham!” he said.

“You may laugh, sir, but what do you think of her wheedling me into sending Zeke up, and then getting him off on the sly with that telegram? I faced him down with it to-night, and Zeke isn’t any good at fibbing.”

“I’ll be hanged if I don’t think it was a pretty good thing for me,” rejoined Mr. Evringham, “and money in my pocket. It looked as if I was in for Ballard for a matter of weeks.”

“But the-the-the audacity of it!” protested Mrs. Forbes. “What do you think she said after you and Dr. Ballard had done downstairs? I tried to bring her to a sense of what she’d done, and all she answered was that she had known that God would deliver her out of the snare of the fowler. Now I should like to ask you, Mr. Evringham,” added Mrs. Forbes in an access of outraged virtue, “which of us three do you think she called the fowler?”

“Give it up, I’m sure,” returned the broker; “but I can imagine that we seemed three pretty determined giants for one small girl to outwit.”

“She’d outwit a regiment, sir; and I don’t see how you can permit it.”

Mr. Evringham endeavored to compose his countenance. “We must allow her religious liberty, I suppose, Mrs. Forbes. It’s a matter of religion with her-that is, we must allow it as long as she keeps well. If Ballard had found her worse to-night, I assure you I should have consigned all Christian Scientists to the bottom of the sea, and that little zealot would have taken her medicine from my own hand. All’s well that ends well, eh?”

Mrs. Forbes had caught sight of the incongruous adornment of her employer’s desk.

With majestic strides she advanced upon the yellow chicken and swept it into her apron. “Julia must be taught not to litter your room, sir.”

“I beg your pardon,” returned the broker firmly, also advancing and holding out his hand. “That is my chicken.”

Slowly Mrs. Forbes restored the confiscated property, and Mr. Evringham examined it carefully to see that it was intact, and then set it carefully on his desk.

Mrs. Forbes recalled the confectioner’s window. “She must have bought that chicken when my back was turned!” she thought. “That young one could have given points to Napoleon.”