Read CHAPTER XIX - A MORNING DRIVE of Jewel A Chapter In Her Life , free online book, by Clara Louise Burnham, on

“I declare, Eloise,” said Mrs. Evringham the next morning, “it is almost worth three whole days of storm to have a spell of such heavenly weather to follow. We’re sure of several days like this now,” She was standing at the open window, having shown a surprising energy in rising soon after breakfast.

She glanced over her shoulder at her daughter, who was picking up the garments strewn about the room. “Now you can live out of doors, I hope, and get yourself toned up again. Really, last evening things were very comfortable, weren’t they?”

“Yes. I thought the lump had begun to be leavened,” returned the girl.

“Talk English, please,” said her mother vivaciously. “Father seemed quite human, and that is all we have ever needed to make things tolerable here. I suppose we reaped the benefit of his relief about the horse.”

“It’s all Jewel,” said Eloise, smiling. “That’s English, isn’t it?”

“Jewel!” Mrs. Evringham exclaimed. “Why, you’re all daffy about that child. What is the attraction?”

“That’s what I’m trying to find out. It’s time for me to go up now and braid her hair and read the lesson.”

Mrs. Evringham regarded her daughter. “Young people are eager for novelty, I know,” she said, “and it would seem as if an interest in a child was an innocent diversion for you at a time when you were growing morbid, but I do think I’m the most unlucky woman in the world! To think that the child should have to be a Christian Scientist, and that you should take this perverse interest in her ideas just now. I haven’t spoken of your remarks about the horse last night, but it was in poor taste, to say the least, to mention such nonsense before Dr. Ballard, and apparently do it so seriously. I knew you had been helping Jewel with lessons, but until last evening I didn’t suspect that it might all be on that odious subject. Is it, Eloise?”

“Yes, but it isn’t odious. I like the fruit of it in her.”

“You’ve never shown Dr. Ballard your most agreeable side, and now if you’re going to parade before him, an Episcopalian and a physician, an interest in this-anarchism, I shan’t blame him in the smallest degree if he gives up all thought of you.”

Eloise, the undemonstrative, put an arm around her mother. “Shan’t you, really?” she replied wistfully. “If I could only hope that.”

“Do you want to give me nervous prostration?” rejoined Mrs. Evringham sharply. “Eloise,” her voice suddenly breaking, “do you love to torment me?”

“Indeed I don’t, poor mother, but I’ve been so tormented myself, and so desirous not to-oh, not to do anything ignoble! I can’t tell you all I’ve endured since-” She paused, her lips unsteady.

“Since we lost your father,” dismally. “Yes, I know it. I’m the most unlucky woman in the world!”

Eloise’s arm tightened about her mother as she went on, “Since I was enchanted and thrown into Castle Discord.” She looked off at the mental picture of her cousin. “Mother,” she turned back suddenly, “what a wonderful thing it is if there really is a God.”

“Why, Eloise Evringham, have you ever doubted it! That’s positively ill-bred!”

“But One that would be any good to us! Jewel’s mother thinks she knows such a One, and so does the child. I wish you’d look into this Christian Science with me. You might find it better than getting grandfather to pay our bills, better than marrying me to Dr. Ballard.”

Mrs. Evringham raised her eyes to her deity. “What have I ever done,” she ejaculated, “that I should have a queer child! Well, I will not look into it,” she returned decidedly; “and if Dr. Ballard were not the broad, noble type of man that he is, he wouldn’t take the trouble to notice and entertain a child who has treated him as she has. It might touch even you to see the lengths to which he goes to please you. I hope you will at least have the grace to go down with Jewel to the buggy and see them off.”

“I couldn’t in this wrapper,” replied Eloise, releasing the speaker.

“Of course not, so put on a dress before you go up to Jewel.”

“It’s too late, dear. He’ll be here by half-past ten. I must have her ready.”

Mrs. Evringham looked after her daughter’s retreating figure, and then her lips came together firmly. She untied the ribbons of the loose gown of lace and silk, in which she had keyed herself up by degrees to face the requirements of luncheon and the afternoon’s diversions, and donned a conventional dress, in which she composed herself by the window to watch for the doctor’s buggy. There was a vista in the park avenue which afforded a fair look at équipages three minutes before they could reach Mr. Evringham’s gateway.

From the moment the doctor’s office hour was over this stanch supporter set herself to watch that gap. As soon as she saw Hector’s dappled coat and easy stride she sprang up and went downstairs, and when the shining buggy paused at the steps and Dr. Ballard jumped out, she appeared on the piazza to greet him.

“What an inspiring morning!” she said, as he removed his hat. “That insane girl!” she thought. “If he had chanced to be awkward and plain, he would have been just as important to us. His good looks are thrown in, and yet she won’t behave herself.”

“Glorious indeed!” he replied heartily. “Where’s my young lady?”

Mrs. Evringham had plenty of worldly experience, and not even her enemies called her stupid, but at this moment there was but one young lady in the world to her, as she believed there was to him.

“She is upstairs braiding Jewel’s hair,” she replied before she realized her own insanity. Then she hastened on, coloring under the odd look in his eyes, “But you mean Jewel, of course. She will be down at once, I’m sure. It’s so kind of you to take her.”

“Not at all. She’s an original worth cultivating.”

Mrs. Evringham shrugged her shoulders. “I suppose she must be, since you all say so. Eloise gives up a surprising amount of time to her, but I can’t judge much from that, because Eloise is so unselfish. For my part, the child’s ideas are so strange, and my little girl is still so young and impressionable, I object to having them much together. It may seem very absurd, when Jewel is so young.”

“No; I saw last evening how interested Miss Eloise already is.”

“Oh,” hastily, “she pretends to be, and I assure you I object. Eloise has a good mind, and I hope you will offer a little antidote now and then to the stuff she has begun to read. A word to the wise, Dr. Ballard. I need say no more.”

It was true. Mrs. Evringham had no need to say more. Her ideas, and especially those which related to himself, had always been inscribed in large characters and words of one syllable for her present companion, who was a young man of considerable perception and discrimination.

He had not time to reply before Jewel, radiant of face, appeared in the doorway, where she hesitated, her doll in her arms.

“I brought Anna Belle,” she said doubtfully, “but I can leave her under the stairs if there isn’t room.”

“Anna Belle under the stairs on a morning like this! And in such a toilet? Talk about error!” The doctor’s tone was tragic as he lifted the happy child into the buggy.

Mrs. Evringham nodded a reply to their smiling farewells as Hector sprang forward, and she looked after them in some perplexity.

“Why should he take the trouble?” she reflected. “It would have been such a splendid morning for them to have gone riding if he had this leisure. Of course it must have been just one of his indirect and lovely ways of trying to please Eloise.”

Just as she was solacing herself with the latter reflection, her daughter stepped out on the piazza, a little black book in her hand.

“Warm enough to sit out, isn’t it?” she remarked.

Her mother looked at her critically. She had not seen this care-free look on her child’s face since Lawrence died.

“Why didn’t you come out a little sooner?”

“I wasn’t presentable. How delicious the air is!”

“Yes. Let us sit here and finish that novel.”

“All right.”

“What have you there?”

“Mrs. Eddy’s book,-’Science and Health.’”

Mrs. Evringham made a grimace. “I read part of it once. That was enough for me. Think of the price they charge for it, too. Think of pretending it is such a good thing for everybody to have, and then putting a price on it that prohibits the average pocketbook.” Eloise’s smile annoyed her mother. “Weren’t you with me the day Nat Bonnell’s mother said so much about it?”

“How foolish she was not to try it,” said Eloise. “Such a hopeless, monotonous invalid.”

“Well, some of her friends worked hard enough to induce her to, but when she found out the mercenary side of it, she saw at once that it couldn’t be trustworthy.”

“I suppose even Christian Scientists must have a roof and food and clothes,” returned Eloise coolly; “but I’ve thought a good deal the last few days about the criticisms I’ve heard on the price of the book. The fuss over that three dollars is certainly very funny, when the average pocketbook goes to the theatre sometimes, has flowers for its entertainments, and rejoices to find lace reduced from a dollar and a quarter to ninety-five cents a yard for its gowns. It eagerly hoards and spends three dollars for some passing pleasure or effect, but winces and ponders over paying the same sum for a book that will last a lifetime, and which, if it is worth anything, furnishes the key to every problem in life.”

“But why isn’t it as cheap as the Bible if it is so beneficial?”

“It will be, probably, when it is generally respected. For the present it wouldn’t be wise to cast it about like pearls before swine.” Eloise smiled at herself. “You see I’m talking as if I knew it all. My wisdom comes partially from what I have extracted from Jewel, and partly from what is obvious. I haven’t reached the place yet where I am convinced, but this book is wonderfully interesting. It came to me in the darkest hour I have ever known, and it has-it has seemed to feed me when I was starving. I don’t know how else to put it. I can’t think of anything else. Mother, why haven’t we a Bible? I was ashamed when Jewel asked me.”

Mrs. Evringham, astonished and dismayed by her daughter’s earnestness, drew herself up. “We have a Bible, certainly. What an idea!”

“Where is it?” eagerly.

“In the storage warehouse with the other books.”

Eloise’s laugh nettled her mother.

“The prayer books are upstairs on my table. What more do you want if you are going to take an interest in such things? I wish you would, dear, and embroider an altar cloth while you are here. I’m sure father would gladly contribute the materials and feel a pride in it.”

“Oh mother,” Eloise still smiled, “you know he never goes to church.”

“But he contributes largely.”

“Well, I haven’t time to embroider altar cloths. Shall I get the story?”

“Yes, do. We’ll go around the corner, out of the wind.”

Meanwhile Dr. Ballard’s buggy was covering the ground rapidly. Through the avenues of the park sped Hector, and joy! Dr. Ballard allowed Jewel to drive as long as they remained within its precincts. Slipping his hand through the reins above where she grasped them, he held Anna Belle on his knee. Jewel had not suspected the size of the park. One could almost see the watered leaves increase in the sunshine, and the birds were swelling their little throats to the utmost. The roses in her cheeks deepened in her happy excitement. She allowed the doctor to do most of the talking, while she kept her eyes on the horse’s ears. Just once she ventured to turn enough to glance at him.

“I’ve had dreams of driving horses,” she said.

“Is this the first time you’ve done it waking?”

“No, the second. Father took me once in Washington Park just before he came away, but the horse didn’t pull like this.” She smiled seraphically.

“So, boy, steady,” said the doctor soothingly, and Hector obeyed the voice.

“Did you play in the Ravine of Happiness when you were a little boy?”

“Where’s that?”

“Where the brook is.”

“Oh yes. Are you planning to take me to that brook and wet my feet, Jewel?”

“We’ve gone long past it. Don’t you know?”

“I think my education has been neglected. I don’t remember it.”

“We can go,” returned Jewel suggestively.

“Very well, we will; but first I have a couple of visits I must make.”

The horse was now trotting toward the park gate. As they reached it Dr. Ballard returned Anna Belle and took the lines.

Jewel gave an unconscious sigh of rapture. “Trolleys and so on, you know,” explained Dr. Ballard. “When you come back ten years from now you shall drive outside too. How was Essex Maid this morning?”

“She was all right, but grandpa took only a short ride. I guess he was a little-bit-afraid.”

“She’s the apple of his eye, or he wouldn’t have been so nervous over a trifle last evening,” remarked the doctor.

“Well, she made a great fuss,” replied Jewel. “She fell down in her stall, and everything like that.”

“Did she really?”

“Yes. Zeke said his knees were shaking.”

“But she was all right by the time Dr. Busby arrived?”


Dr. Ballard looked at his small companion, a quizzical smile curving his mustache.

“I’ve never thought of taking a partner, Jewel, but I might consider a mascot. What do you say to sharing my office and being my mascot? Special high chair for Anna Belle, be it well understood.”

The little girl eyed him, her head on one side. It was her experience that all men were jokers. “I don’t know what a mascot is,” she replied.

“It’s something or somebody that brings one good luck.”

“Do you think I could bring you good luck?”

“It looks that way. Of course there are certain rules you would have to observe. It wouldn’t do for you to talk against materia medica to the patients in the anteroom.”

“What is an anteroom?”

“The place where my patients wait until I can see them in my office.”

Jewel lifted her shoulders and smiled. “I might read them ’Science and Health’ while they waited, and then they wouldn’t have to go in.”

Dr. Ballard’s laugh rang heartily along the leafy street. “Is that your idea of mascoting a poor young physician?” he inquired.

Jewel laughed in sympathy. She didn’t quite understand him, but she knew that they were having a very good time.

Pretty soon her companion drove in at the gate of an imposing old residence, set back from the street where the trolley ran with an air of withdrawing from the intrusion of these modern tracks.

“I thought it wouldn’t injure your conscience to wait for me while I made a couple of professional visits, Jewel, eh?” he asked, as he jumped out and fastened Hector to the ring in the hand of a bronze boy. “I won’t be any longer than I can help, and don’t you go to hoodooing me, now, while I’m upstairs.” The doctor returned to the buggy and took the black case, frowning warningly at the child. “I have troubles enough here without that. This old lady used to trot me on her knee, and she wants to spend half an hour every morning proving that doctors don’t know anything before she’ll let me get to business.”

“It must be hard for doctors,” returned Jewel, “going to sorry people all the time, and nothing to give them except something on their tongues.”

Dr. Ballard gave his small companion a quick glance. If he secretly considered her beliefs as too richly absurd to excite aught but amusement, she evidently as honestly compassionated the poverty of ideas in his learned profession.

“Well, I’ll hurry,” he said, and vanished within the house. Time would not have dragged for Jewel had he stayed all the morning. To sit in the shining buggy in close proximity to the dappled gray Hector, and with Anna Belle for a sympathizer, caused the minutes to be winged.

When the doctor returned, a radiant face welcomed him.

“I thought I should never get away,” he sighed, “but you don’t look bored.”

He untied the horse, jumped into the buggy, and they were off again, Hector striding along as if to make up for lost time. “Now only one more call, Jewel, and then we’ll get back out of the dust again,” said the doctor cheerily.

“I haven’t noticed any dust, Dr. Ballard. I’m having the most fun!”

“Well now, I’m glad of that. It’s a great thing to be eight years old, Jewel.”

“That’s what cousin Eloise says. She says she’d like to be.”

“Indeed? How is the enchanting-excuse me-I mean the enchanted maiden this morning?”

“She’s well. She ties my bows now, so grandpa doesn’t have to.”

“Ties your-” The doctor looked at the speaker, mystified.

Jewel put her hand up to the small billows of silk behind her ear. “My hair bows. They were real hard for grandpa to do.”

Dr. Ballard repressed a guffaw, and then turned solemn. “Do you mean to say that Mr. Evringham tied your hair ribbons?”

“Why yes.”

“That settles it, Jewel. You must go into partnership with me and wave wands and things. Setting Essex Maid on her legs wasn’t a patch on that.”

Jewel regarded him questioningly a moment and then repeated, “But it was real hard for grandpa.”

“I can believe it!”

“And cousin Eloise is the kindest girl. She’s like grandpa about that. Her kindness is inside, too.”

“Is it indeed? You don’t know how much I thank you for telling me where to look for it.”

“Oh, she must be kind to you, Dr. Ballard!”

“Once in a while, once in a while,” he replied cautiously, but Jewel couldn’t get a look into his eyes, though she tried, he was so busily engaged poking an invisible fly from Hector’s side with the point of the whip. “If you’ll find a way to make her kind to me all the time, Jewel, then you will be my mascot indeed.”

“All you have to do is to know she is,” replied the child earnestly. “I felt the way you do, at first, but now I’ve found out just because I stopped being afraid.”

“Ah, that’s the recipe, eh? All I’ve to do is to stop being afraid.”

“That’s all!” cried Jewel, beaming at his ready comprehension. “You’ll find out there isn’t a thing to be afraid of with Cousin Eloise, and oh, Dr. Ballard,” the child smiled at him wistfully, “she’s getting so-so-unenchanted.”

“You just waved your wand, I suppose, and said ‘Presto change,’” returned the young man.

He turned Hector down a side street and drew rein under a large elm. “Here’s my rheumatic gentleman,” he added, as he jumped from the buggy and fastened the horse. “He won’t keep me waiting while he abuses doctors, so I shan’t be quite so long this time.” The speaker seized his case and went up a garden path to the house, and Jewel, with a luxurious sigh, set Anna Belle in the place he had vacated.