Read CHAPTER XVII - JEWEL’S CORRESPONDENCE of Jewel A Chapter In Her Life , free online book, by Clara Louise Burnham, on ReadCentral.com.

While Jewel still stood turning over in her mind what she had heard, charming strains of music began coming up through the hall. Cousin Eloise had gone to the piano.

“I almost which I hadn’t made her tell me,” thought the child, “for how can I help grandpa not to be sorry they are here? Wouldn’t I be sorry to have aunt Madge come and live with me when I never asked her to?” She stood for some minutes wrestling with the problem, but suddenly her expression changed. “I was forgetting!” she exclaimed. “I mustn’t get sorry too. God is All. Mortal mind can’t do anything about it.” She closed her eyes, and pressing her hand to her lips, stood for a minute in mute realization; then with a smile of relief, she took up Anna Belle.

“Let’s go down, dearie, and hear the music,” she said light heartedly.

When the summons to luncheon sounded and Mrs. Evringham entered the parlor, she found the child curled up in a big chair, her doll in her lap, listening absorbedly to the last strains of a Chopin Ballade.

“Do you like music, Julia?” she asked patronizingly, as her daughter finished and turned about.

“The child’s name is Jewel,” said Eloise.

“Yes, aunt Madge, I love it,” replied the little girl; “and I didn’t know people could play the piano the way cousin Eloise does.”

Mrs. Evringham smiled. “I suppose you’ve not heard much good music.”

“Yes’m, I’ve heard our organist in church.”

“And Jewel can make good music herself,” said Eloise. “She can sing like a little lark. I’ve been up in her room this morning.”

Mrs. Evringham welcomed the look on her daughter’s face as she made the statement. “Thank fortune Eloise has played herself into good humor,” she thought.

“Indeed? I must hear her sing some time. You’re playing unusually well this morning, my dear. I wish Dr. Ballard could have heard you. Come to luncheon.”

The three repaired to the dining-room, where Mrs. Forbes’s glance immediately noted the presence of Anna Belle. She took her from Jewel’s arms and placed her on a remote corner of the sideboard, in the middle of which glowed the American Beauty roses.

Mrs. Evringham approached them with solicitude.

“They’re looking finely, Mrs. Forbes,” she said suavely. “You surely understand the care of roses.” She lifted the silver scissors that hung from her chatelaine and succeeded in severing one of the long stems.

“Here, little girl,” she added, advancing to Eloise, “you need this in your white gown to cheer us up this rainy day.”

The girl shrank and opened her lips to decline, but restrained herself and submitted to have the flower pinned amid her laces.

Jewel gazed at her in open admiration. The glowing color lent a wonderful touch to the girl’s beauty. Mrs. Evringham laughed low at the fascinated look in the plain little face, and luncheon began.

To Jewel it differed much from the ones that had preceded it. Mrs. Forbes might hover like a large black cloud, aunt Madge might rail at the weather which cut her off from her afternoon drive, but the morning’s experience seemed to have put the child into new relations with all, and Eloise often gave her a friendly glance or smile as the meal progressed.

It was destined to a surprising interruption. In the midst of the discussion of lamb chops and Saratoga chips the door opened, and in walked Dr. Ballard. The shoulders of his becoming raincoat were spangled with drops, his hat was in his hand, a deprecatory smile brightened his face.

“Forgive me, won’t you?” he said as he advanced to Mrs. Evringham and clasped the outstretched hand which eagerly welcomed him. “It was my one leisure half hour to-day.”

He brought the freshness of the spring air with him, and he went on around the table shaking hands with the others, and finally drew up a chair beside Jewel.

“No, I can’t eat anything,” he declared in response to the urging of Mrs. Evringham and the housekeeper. “Can’t stay long enough for that.”

His eyes fastened on the graceful girl opposite him, who was trying to offset her blushes by a direct and nonchalant gaze. The rose on her breast seemed to be scorching her cheeks. She knew that her mother was exulting in the lucky inspiration which had made her set it there.

“How good of you to come and cheer us!” exclaimed Mrs. Evringham. “Do take off your coat and stay for a cosy hour. We will have some music.”

“Don’t tempt me. I have an office hour awaiting me. I came principally to see this little girl.”

Jewel had leaned back in her chair and was watching his bright face expectantly.

“I’m glad of it,” rejoined Mrs. Evringham devoutly. “I distrust these sudden recoveries, Dr. Ballard. Do make very sure that she hasn’t one of those lingering, treacherous fevers. I’ve heard of such things.”

Dr. Ballard’s eyes laughed into those of his little neighbor. “She doesn’t look the part,” he returned.

Jewel gave a glance around the table. “Will you excuse me?” she said politely, then she reached up to the doctor’s ear.

“Shall I go and get my money?” she whispered.

He shook his head. “No,” he replied in a low tone. “I came to thank you very much for your note, and to tell you that you don’t owe me anything. I’m not usually a ‘no cure, no pay’ doctor. I take the money anyway, but this time I’m going to make an exception.”

“Why?” asked Jewel, speaking aloud as long as he did.

“Well, you see, you didn’t take the medicine. That makes a difference. Most people take it.”

“Ye-es,” rejoined Jewel rather doubtfully. She was not sure of this logic.

“So now we’re perfectly square,” went on the doctor, “but don’t you fall ill again.” He shook his head at her. “I want us to remain friends.”

“We’d always be friends, wouldn’t we?” returned Jewel, smiling into his laughing eyes.

“When is our golf coming off, Miss Eloise?” he asked, looking across the table again.

“When the weather permits,” she responded graciously.

“I guess that’s going to be all right,” commented Mrs. Forbes mentally. “She’s as pretty as a painting with that rose on, and her mother looks as contented as a cat with her paw on a mouse. She don’t mean to play with that mouse, either. She won’t run any risks. She’ll take it right in. You’re pretty near done for, my young feller, and your eyes look willing, I must say.”

The spring rain proved to be a protracted storm. Mr. Evringham made his hours long in the city. Eloise came up to Jewel’s room each morning and read the lesson with her, always reading on to herself after it was finished. She made the child tell her of the circumstances of her recent illness and cure, and listened to Jewel’s affectionate comments on Dr. Ballard’s kindness with an inscrutable expression which did not satisfy the child.

“You love him, don’t you?” asked the little girl.

Eloise gave a slight smile. “If everything that isn’t love is hate, I suppose I ought to,” she returned.

“Yes, indeed,” agreed Jewel; “and he has been so kind to you I don’t see how you can help it.”

The girl sighed. “Don’t grow up, Jewel,” she said. “It makes lots of trouble.”

On the second one of her visits to the child’s room she put her hand on the flaxen head. “I’d like to fix your hair,” she said. “Mrs. Forbes doesn’t part it nicely.”

“I do it myself,” returned Jewel; “but I’d be glad to have you.”

So Eloise washed the thick flaxen locks and dried them. Then she parted and brushed the hair, and when it was finally tied, Jewel regarded the reflection of her smooth head with satisfaction.

“It looks just the way mother makes it,” she said. “I’m going to write to mother and father to-night, and I’m going to tell them how kind you are to me.”

That evening, in Mr. Evringham’s library, Jewel wrote the letter.

Her grandfather, after making some extremely uncomplimentary comments upon the weather, had lowered his green-shaded electric light and established himself beneath it with his book.

He looked across at the child, who was situated as before at the table, her crossed feet, in their spring-heeled shoes, dangling beneath.

“May I smoke, Jewel?” he asked, as he took a cigar from the case. He asked the question humorously, but the reply was serious.

“Oh yes, grandpa, of course; this is your room; but you know nobody likes tobacco naturally except a worm.”

Mr. Evringham’s deep-set eyes widened. “Is it possible? Well, we’re all worms.”

Jewel smiled fondly at him, her head a little on one side, in its characteristic attitude.

“You’re such a joker,” she returned.

“If you really dislike smoke,” said the broker after a minute, “perhaps you’d better take your letter up to your room.”

“I don’t mind it,” she returned. “Father used to smoke. It’s only a little while since it gave him up.”

“You mean since he gave it up.”

“No. When people study Christian Science, the error habits that they have just go away.”

“Indeed? I’m glad you warned me.” Mr. Evringham blew a delicate ring of smoke toward the table, but Jewel had begun to think of her parents, and her pencil was moving. Her grandfather noted the trim appearance of the bowed head.

“I don’t know but I was cut out for a man milliner after all,” he mused complacently. “Those bows have really a very chic appearance.”

His book interested him, and he soon became absorbed in its pages. Jewel occasionally coming to an orthographic problem looked up and waited, but he did not observe her, so she patiently kept silence and resumed her work. At last the letter was finished.

She looked again at her grandfather, and opened her cramped little hand with relief. The back of her neck was tired with her bending posture. She leaned back in the heavy chair to rest it while she waited. The eyelids, grown heavy with her labors, wavered and winked. The rain dripped down the panes, as if it had fallen into a monotonous habit. The sound was soothing. Jewel fell asleep.

When finally Mr. Evringham glanced at her he smiled. “Little thoroughbred,” he mused; “she’d never disturb me.” He rose and crossed to the child. There lay the finished letter. He took it up with some anticipation:-

DEAR MOTHER AND FATHER -It is most time to get a leter from you but I will not wait to tell you I am happy and well.

Grandpa is the kindest man and he has the most Beautiful horse, her name is Essecks made. He let me sit on her back and give her Sugar. Cosin Elloees is the prettiest one of all. She has things that make her sorry but she is very kind to me. She washed my hare today and she helps me get the lesson. There is a docter here he is lovly. He tried to cure me when I had a claim but Mrs. Lewis did. Cosin Elloees reads S. and H when we get throo the lesson and I think she will be glad Pretty soon and not afrade Grandpa doesn’t want her and Ant maj. She won’t let me tell grandpa she is kind to me, but I can Explane beter when you come home.

Grandpa’s kindness is inside, and he Looks sorry but noboddy cood help loving him. I love you both every minnit and the leters in my pocket help me so much.

Your dear

JEWEL.

Mr. Evringham had scarcely finished reading this epistle when Jewel’s head slipped on the polished woodwork against which she was leaning and bumped against the side of the chair with a jar which awoke her.

Seeing her grandfather standing near she smiled drowsily. “I fell asleep, didn’t I?” she said, and rubbed her eyes; then noting the sheet of paper in Mr. Evringham’s hand, memory returned to her. She sat up with a start.

“Oh, grandpa, you haven’t read my letter!” she exclaimed, with an accent of dismay which brought the blood to the broker’s face. He felt a culprit before the shocked blue eyes.

“To-to see if it was spelled right, you know,” he said. “You had me do it before.”

“Yes, I wanted you to then,” returned the child; “but it is error to read people’s letters unless they ask you to, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it’s confoundedly bad form, Jewel. I beg your pardon. You didn’t mean me to see those sweet things you said about me, eh?”

“That was no matter. It was cousin Eloise’s secret. She trusted me.” The child’s eyes filled with tears.

The broker cleared his throat. “No harm done, I’m sure. No harm done,” he returned brusquely, to cover his discomfiture. For the first time he made an advance toward his granddaughter. “Come here a minute, Jewel.” He took her hand and led her to his chair, and seating himself, lifted her into his lap. The corners of her lips were drawing down involuntarily, and as her head fell against his broad shoulder, he took out his handkerchief and dried her eyes. “I hope you’ll forgive me,” he said. “After this I will always wait for your permission. Now what is this about cousin Eloise?”

Jewel shook her head, not trusting herself to speak.

“You can’t tell me?”

“No.”

“Then don’t you think perhaps it was a good thing I read your letter after all, if it is something I ought to know?”

The speaker was not so interested to discover the secrets of his beautiful guest as to set himself right with this admirer. He did not relish falling from his pedestal.

“Do you think perhaps Divine Love made you do it, grandpa?” asked the child tremulously, with returning hope.

Mr. Evringham was quite certain that it had been curiosity, but he was willing to accept a higher sounding hypothesis.

“Mother explained to me about God making ’the wrath of man to praise Him,’” added Jewel after the moment’s pause. “If it makes you kind to cousin Eloise, perhaps we can be glad you read it.”

“What is the matter with Eloise?” asked Mr. Evringham.

Jewel sat up, fixed him with her eyes, pressed her lips together, and shook her head.

“You won’t tell me?”

The head went on firmly shaking.

“Then let me read the letter again.”

“No, grandpa,” decidedly.

He kept one arm around her as he smoothed his mustache. “Is there something you think I ought to do?”

A light seemed to illumine the eyes that the little girl kept fixed on his, but she did not speak.

“Do you think it discourteous for me to spend my evenings away from those two? They don’t want me, child.”

Still she did not speak. Mr. Evringham was divided between a desire to shake her and the wish to see the familiar fondness return to her face.

“You wrote that Eloise thinks I do not want her and her mother here. Her intelligence is of a higher order than I feared. Well, what can be done about it? I’ve been asking myself that for some time. How would it do to settle some money upon them and then say good-by?”

“If you did it with love,” suggested Jewel.

“It’s my impression that they could dispense with the love under those circumstances.” The broker gave a slight smile.

The child put an impulsive little hand on his shoulder. “No indeed, grandpa. Nobody can do without love. It hurts cousin Eloise because she isn’t your real relation. She doesn’t know how kind you are inside.” The child’s lips closed suddenly.

“She fixed your hair very nicely,” Mr. Evringham viewed the flaxen head critically. “That’s one thing in her favor.”

“She’s full of things in her favor,” returned Jewel warmly. “Error’s using you, grandpa, not to love her. If we don’t love people we can’t be sure anything we do to them is right.”

Mr. Evringham raised one hand and scratched his head slowly, regarding Jewel with what she felt was intended to be a humorous air.

“Couldn’t you give me an easier one?” he asked.

“Oh grandpa,” the flaxen head nestled against his breast and the child sighed. “I wish everybody knew how kind you are,” and the broker patted her shoulder and enjoyed the clinging pressure of her cheek, for it assured him that again he stood firmly on the pedestal.