Read CHAPTER XVI - THE FIRST LESSON of Jewel A Chapter In Her Life , free online book, by Clara Louise Burnham, on ReadCentral.com.

Jewel looked up as she heard a knock. Sarah had made the bed and gone. Who could this be?

At her “Come in,” Eloise entered the room. The child’s face brightened questioningly. She rose and gazed at the enchanted maiden, very lovely in the wrapper of white silk, open at the throat, and with little billows of lace cascading down to the toes of her white Turkish slippers.

“Good-morning, cousin Eloise,” said the child, waiting for the message or order which she supposed to be forthcoming.

“Good-morning.” The girl cast a comprehensive glance around the rather bare room. Her eyes bore no traces of the tears so recently shed, but her face was sad. “I heard you singing,” she said.

“Yes. Did I disturb anybody?” asked the child quickly.

“No. It is nice to be like the birds that sing in the rain.”

“Like the robin out there,” returned Jewel, relieved. “Did you hear him?” She ran to the window and threw it open, listening a minute. “No, he has gone.”

“You said you would show me your doll,” went on Eloise when the window was closed again.

“Oh,” returned Jewel pleased, “did you come to see Anna Belle? She’s right here. We were just going to have the lesson.” She took the doll from the depths of a big chair and held her up with motherly pride. “Would you-won’t you sit down a minute?”

To her great satisfaction, her beautiful visitor condescended to take the chair Anna Belle had vacated, and held out her white, ringless hands for the doll.

“How neatly her clothes are made,” said the girl, examining Anna Belle’s garments.

“Yes, my mother made her all new ones when she knew she was going to Europe, so that she would be neat and not mortify me. Would you like to see her clothes?” eagerly.

“Yes, I should.”

Jewel brought them, her quick little fingers turning them back and forth, exhibiting the tiny buttonholes and buttons, and chattering explanations of their good points.

“It was a great deal for your mother to do all this, when she is such a busy woman,” said Eloise.

“Yes, she did it evenings, and then surprised me just when we were coming away. Wasn’t it lovely?”

“Very.”

“I love prettiness,” said the child. As she spoke she regarded the grave face beside her. “When I first noticed that my nose wasn’t nice, and neither were my eyes, I almost cried.”

Eloise looked up at her, at a loss for a reply.

“But then I remembered that of course God never made anything that wasn’t perfectly beautiful, so I knew that it would come right some time, and I asked mother when she thought it would.”

“What did she say?” returned Eloise, wondering at this original optimism.

“She said we could never tell how soon anything would come right to our sense, but so long as we knew that Creation was perfect and beautiful, we could be patient about everything-big things and little things; and then I remember how she talked to me about being careful never to pity myself.” Jewel gave her head a little serious shake. “You know it’s very bad error to pity yourself, no matter what kind of a nose you have.”

Eloise had sunk back in the large chair and was attentively watching the child standing beside her, while she still held Anna Belle. She had never before held converse with a Christian Scientist, but her state of mind precluded the perception of a humorous side to anything.

“Wrong to pity yourself no matter what happens?” she asked.

“Yes-because-because-” Jewel looked off. She knew that it was error, but it was hard to explain why to the lovely grown-up cousin who was so strangely sorry. “Well, you see,” she added after the moment’s thought, “it isn’t having faith in God, it isn’t knowing that you’re His child, and that He takes care of you.”

“No, I suppose not; but I have never learned how to know that, Jewel.”

“I know you haven’t,” returned the little girl, and she slipped her hand toward her cousin’s. The girl met it halfway and held it close. “Since I’ve seen you,” Jewel went on slowly, “I know that prettiness isn’t enough to make a person happy-nor all your lovely clothes-nor having people fond of you and sending you presents-nor making the sweetest music; but you can be happy, cousin Eloise, unless you’re doing wrong.”

“I am doing wrong, but I can’t help it.” The girl took her supporting hand from the doll and pressed it to her eyes a second before dropping it. “What were you doing when I came in?”

“I was just going to get the lesson.”

“Oh, do you go on with your studies? Perhaps I can help you better than Anna Belle.”

“Would you cousin Eloise?” Jewel flushed with pleasure. “Some of the words are so long. I thought I’d ask grandpa to-night.”

“Why didn’t you wish to come to me?” questioned Eloise, well knowing why.

The little girl looked a trifle embarrassed. “I didn’t want to trouble you. Of course you aren’t my real relations,” she said modestly.

“Do you remember that, too!” exclaimed Eloise.

Jewel started at the hurt voice. “Would you like to be?” she asked earnestly. “I wish you were, because”-she hesitated and smiled with her head a little on the side, “because I might look more like you.”

The gravity of Eloise’s lips remained unbroken. “I want you to promise me something, Jewel. I want you to promise not to tell your grandfather that I have been with you to-day.”

“Why? He’d be glad I was happy.”

“I have a reason. I will help you with your studies every day if you won’t tell him.”

“I might without meaning to,” rejoined the child, her alert little mind busy with the new problem suddenly presented to it.

“I will make a rainbow scarf for Anna Belle if you will never speak of me to your grandfather.”

“Why do you say my grandfather? He’s yours, too.”

“Not at all. Didn’t you just say I was not your real relation?”

“Oh but, cousin Eloise,” Jewel was sure of the hurt now, though the why or wherefore was a mystery, “of course he wishes you were.”

“Oh no he doesn’t.” The answer came quick and sharp, and the child reviewed mentally her own observations of the household. Her heart swelled with the desire to help.

“Now, cousin Eloise,” her breath came a little faster with the thronging thoughts for which her vocabulary was insufficient, “error does try to cheat people so. Just think how kind you were inside all the time, though you wouldn’t smile at me. You’re willing to make Anna Belle a scarf. I called you the enchanted maiden, because you were too sorry to try to make people happy, and now grandpa’s just like that; he’s enchanted, too, if he doesn’t make you happy, because he’s just as kind inside, oh, just as kind as he can be.”

“He likes you,” returned Eloise.

Jewel regarded her for a silent moment. “I noticed when I came,” she said at last, apologetically, “that nobody here seemed to love one another; and the house was so grand and the people were so beautiful that I couldn’t understand; and I called it Castle Discord.”

Eloise gave a little exclamation. “I call it the icebox,” she returned.

Jewel’s face lighted. “That’s it, that’s all it is,” she said eagerly. “It’s easy to melt ice. Love melts everything.”

“It’s pretty slow work sometimes,” said Eloise.

“Then you have to put on more love. That’s all. Have you”-the child asked the question a little timidly, “have you put on much love to grandpa?”

“Why should I love him?” asked Eloise. “He doesn’t love me.”

“Oh dear,” said Jewel. After a minute’s thought her face brightened. “I guess I’ll show you my dotted letter.”

She ran to the closet where hung her dotted challie dress and took from the pocket the message that had come to her the evening of her arrival. “My mother put a letter into all my pockets for a happy surprise; and this one came the first night, when I was feeling all sorry and alone, and it comforted me. Perhaps it will comfort you.”

She put the paper into the girl’s hand, and Eloise read it. She turned it over and read it a second time.

Jewel stood beside her chair watching, and seeing that her cousin seemed interested, she ran and brought her little wrapper. “Perhaps you’d like to see this one too,” she said feeling in the pocket for the second message.

Eloise accepted and read it. Every word of the two notes came to the mind of the young girl as suggestions from another planet, so foreign were they to any instruction or advice that had ever fallen to her lot.

She gave a slight exclamation as she finished. “Is your mother a saint?” she asked, looking up suddenly.

“No,” returned Jewel innocently. “She’s a Christian Scientist.”

Eloise suddenly put out her hand, and drawing Jewel to her, hid her forehead on the child’s breast.

“I wish you were older,” she said.

Jewel put her little hands on the shining waves of hair she had admired from afar. “I wish my mother was here,” she answered. “Did you like those things mother said?”

“Oh yes; but they’re from heaven, and I’m in the other place,” replied Eloise disconsolately.

“Then let’s look in another pocket!” exclaimed Jewel. “I’ll look in my best dress. Perhaps she’d put the best one there.”

The girl lifted her head, and the child went eagerly to the closet, coming back with a folded paper. “We’ll read it together. You read it out loud, and I’ll look over your shoulder.”

The rain slanted against the window in gusts as the two heads bent above the paper. Eloise read:-

“Mother is thinking of you, little daughter, every day and every night, and the thing she hopes the most is, that you never let the day go by without studying the lesson. The words may be hard sometimes, but perhaps some one will read it with you, and if they do not, then you go on trying your best, and you will learn more and more all the time; for truth will shine into your thought and help you. Grandpa will give you plenty of bread and butter, but you must remember that Spirit, not matter, satisfieth. You would starve without the Bible and the text-book, and very soon the joy would go out of everything. Give my love to Anna Belle, and tell her not to go out to play any day until you have read the lesson.”

“Your mother speaks as if you learned Christian Science out of the Bible,” said Eloise.

“Of course,” returned Jewel.

“I thought a woman got it up,” said the girl. “I thought your church worshipped her.”

The child smiled at the phrase. “You know Christ was the first one. That’s why we call ourselves that. We couldn’t be Christian Scientists if we worshipped any one but God,” she answered. “Of course we love Mrs. Eddy. Just think how good and unselfish a person has to be before they can hear God’s teaching. He showed her how to remind people of the things that Christ taught, and how to get rid of their sins and sickness. We love her dearly for helping people so much, and shouldn’t you think everybody would? But they don’t. Some people think hating thoughts about her, just as if she was teaching bad things instead of good ones. Mother says it reminds her of what the Saviour said, ’For which of these works do ye stone me?’”

“Ah, but you see,” returned Eloise, “Christian Scientists let people die sometimes without a doctor.”

“But lots of people they do cure are the ones doctors said would have to die.”

“I know they claim that.”

“And such a lot of people pass on while doctors are taking care of them I wonder why it makes everybody so angry when a Scientist goes without any.”

Eloise smiled faintly as she shook her head. “It is more respectable to die with a doctor at your side,” she returned.

“Are you really willing to help me with the lesson, cousin Eloise? If you are, it would be nice if you would get your Bible too.”

The girl looked embarrassed. “I haven’t any.”

“Well, your mother’s would do just as well,” said Jewel politely.

“She hasn’t any-here, I’m sure.”

The little girl stood very still a moment. “No wonder they’re sorry,” she thought.

“All right. We can both look over one,” she answered, and going to the dresser she brought her books.

“Was this the study you meant?” asked Eloise, looking at the three books curiously. “I thought I was offering to help you with something I knew about. I used to learn verses out of the Bible when I was a little girl in Sunday-school. I don’t know anything about it now.”

“But you can read everything, the big words and all,” replied Jewel. “I wish I could.”

Eloise saw that this reply was designed to minister to her self-respect. She took up the small black book lying with the Bible. “What is this?”

“That is ‘Science and Health,’ that Mrs. Eddy wrote to explain to us what the Bible means; and this other one is to tell us where to pick out the places for the day’s lesson.” Jewel pulled up a chair, and seating herself, turned over the leaves of the Quarterly briskly until she found the right date.

“Please find Zechariah, cousin Eloise.”

“What’s that?” asked the girl helplessly.

“It’s in the Old Testament. Would you rather I’d find them? All right, then you can take ‘Science and Health’ and find that part.”

“I hope it’s easy, for I’m awfully stupid, Jewel.”

“Oh, it’s very easy. You’ll see.” The child found the chapter and verse in the Bible and read, with her finger on the line. Eloise looked over and read with her. Thus they went through all the verses for the day, then Jewel began to give the page and line to be read in the text-book.

This volume was small and agreeable to handle, the India paper pleasant to the girl’s dainty touch. According to the child’s request, she read aloud the lines which were called for.

“That’s all,” said Jewel at last. “Oh cousin Eloise, it’s just lovely and easy to get the lesson with you,” she added gratefully.

Eloise made no response. Her eye had been caught by a statement on the page before her, and she read on in silence.

Jewel waited a minute and then, seeing that her cousin was absorbed, she laid down the Quarterly and took up her doll and sat still, watching the pretty profile, undisturbed by doubts as to what her cousin might think of the book she held, and full of utter confidence that He who healeth all our diseases would minister to her through its pages.

At last Eloise again became conscious of her surroundings. She turned to her companion, a skeptical comment on her lips, but she suppressed the words at sight of the innocent, expectant face. She certainly had nothing to give this child better than what she already possessed.

“You can read it any time when you feel sorry, cousin Eloise, that and my Bible too. Mother always does.”

“Does she ever feel sorry?”

“Sometimes; but it can’t last where the Bible is.”

“I never saw that the Bible had anything to do with us,” said Eloise.

“Why-ee!” Jewel suddenly dropped Anna Belle and again took up the Bible.

“What do you think I opened to?” holding the verse with her finger as she looked up. Then she read, “’If ye love them that love you what thank have ye?’ Now isn’t that something to do with you and grandpa?”

“I don’t see how I can love people who don’t choose to be lovable,” returned Eloise. “What’s the use of pretending?”

“But then,” said the child, “the trouble is that everything that isn’t love is hate.”

Her visitor raised her eyebrows. “Ah! I should have to think about that,” she returned.

“Yes, you’d better,” agreed Jewel. Then she turned to the Psalms and read the ninety-first.

When she had finished she looked up at her cousin, an earnest questioning in her eyes.

“That is very beautiful,” said Eloise. “I never heard it before. How well you read it, Jewel.”

“Yes,” replied the child. “It’s so much easier to read things when you know them by heart.” Then she turned to the Twenty-third Psalm and read it.

“Yes, I’ve heard that one. It’s beautiful of course, but I never thought of its having anything to do with us.” Eloise was watching her cousin curiously. It seemed too strange for belief that a healthy child of her age should be taking a vital interest in the Bible and endeavoring to prove a position from its pages.

When the girl finally rose to go she turned at the door:-

“Remember your promise not to tell grandfather about this morning,” she said.

Jewel, hovering about her, looked troubled.

“Would you just as lief tell me why?” she asked.

Eloise gave the ghost of a smile. “It would be a long story, and I scarcely think you would understand.”

“I think I could obey you better if you would tell me.”

“Very well. We, my mother and I, are not Mr. Evringham’s real relations,-to put it as you do,-and we have come here because my poor father lost his money and we have nowhere else to go. We came without being invited, and it hurts to have to stay where we are not wanted. I don’t wish grandfather to think that I am being kind to you, for fear he will believe that I am doing it to make him like me better and because I want to stay here.”

The girl spoke slowly and with great clearness.

Jewel looked at her, speechless with surprise and perplexity.

Eloise went on: “I don’t want to stay here, you understand. I wish to go away. I would go to-day if my mother were willing.”

Her large eyes grew dark as she closed, and the child received a sense of the turbulence that underlay her words.

“Thank you for explaining,” she returned in an awed tone. “I wish my mother was here; but God is, and He’ll take care of you, cousin Eloise. Mother says we don’t ever need to stay in the shadow. There’s always the sunshine, only we must do our part, we must come into it.”

“How Jewel? Supposing you don’t know how.”

“You can learn how,” replied the child earnestly, “right in those books. Lots of sorry people grow glad studying them.”