Read CHAPTER XX - BY THE BROOKSIDE of Jewel A Chapter In Her Life , free online book, by Clara Louise Burnham, on ReadCentral.com.

Scarcely had she seen the doctor admitted and the house door closed when an approaching pedestrian caught her eye. She recognized him at once, and a little more color stole into her round cheeks, while an unconscious smile touched her lips.

The gentleman had observed the doctor enter the house, and glanced idly as he passed, to see what child was waiting in the buggy. The half shy look of recognition which he met surprised him. Somewhere he had seen that rosy face. Going on his way and searching his memory he had left the buggy behind, when in a flash it came to him how, one day, that same shy, pleased smile had beamed wistfully upon him in a trolley car.

Instantly he turned back, and in a minute Jewel saw him standing beside her. He lifted his hat and replaced it as he held out his hand.

“We’ve met before, haven’t we?” he asked kindly.

Jewel shook hands with him, much pleased. “My mother and father have gone to Europe,” she said “and it seemed as if there wasn’t a Scientist in the whole world until I saw you.”

“Another proof of what I always say-that we should all wear the pin. I didn’t know that Dr. Ballard had any Science relations.”

“Oh, Dr. Ballard and I are not relations,” explained Jewel seriously. “I think he wants to marry my cousin Eloise; but he hasn’t ever said so, and I don’t like to ask him. He’s the kindest man. I just love him, and he’s letting me ride around with him while he makes calls.”

“Why, that’s very nice, I’m sure,” returned Mr. Reeves, smiling broadly. “Does he know that you’re a Christian Scientist?”

“Oh, yes, indeed. I had a claim, and my grandpa called him to help me, so then I told him, but he kept on reflecting love just the same.”

Mr. Reeves scented an interesting experience, but he would not question the child. “Nice fellow, Guy Ballard. He deserves a better fate than to bow down to false gods all his days.”

“Yes, indeed,” returned Jewel heartily.

“But, as you say,” continued Mr. Reeves, “he reflects love, and so we shall hear of his being a successful physician.”

“Yes, I want him to be always happy,” said the child.

“Who is your grandfather, my dear?”

“Mr. Evringham.”

“Is it possible? Then you are-whose child?”

“My father’s name is Harry.”

“Of course, of course.” Mr. Reeves nodded, trying to conceal his surprise. “And is he a Scientist now?”

“Yes, my mother is teaching him to be.”

“Well, I’m sure I’m very glad to hear this. Your grandfather is not unkindly disposed toward Science?”

“My grandfather couldn’t be unkind to anything! I thought you knew him.”

Mr. Reeves smoothed his mustache vigorously. “I thought I did,” he returned. “You spoke of your cousin. I knew your aunt and cousin were with Mr. Evringham now. Well, I’m glad, I’m sure, that you are so pleasantly situated. You must come to our little hall some Sunday where we have service, you know. It will be rather different from your beautiful churches in Chicago.”

“But I’d love to come,” replied the child eagerly. “I didn’t know there was one here. I’ll get grandpa to bring me.”

“Mr. Evringham!” The speaker could feel the tendency of his jaw to drop.

“Yes, or else cousin Eloise. She helps me get the lesson every day, and then she takes my book and reads and reads. She told me this morning she read almost all last night.”

Mr. Reeves nodded slowly once or twice. “Still they come,” he murmured meditatively.

“Would you-would you mind writing down where that hall is?” asked the child.

“Certainly I will.” Mr. Reeves suited the action to the word, taking an envelope from his pocket for the purpose. “And if I ever see Mr. Evringham there”-he said slowly, “by the way, please tell your grandfather that we met and had this chat.”

“I don’t know your name,” returned the child.

“Why, of course. Pardon me. Reeves. Mr. Reeves. Can you remember that?”

The little girl flashed a bright look at him. “We can’t forget,” she reminded him.

“Of course,” he nodded. “Exactly. I’m very likely younger in Science than you are, little one. How long have you known about it?”

Jewel thought. “Seven years,” she replied.

Her companion gave a laughing exclamation. “There, you see. I’ve known for only one year. What is your name?”

“Jewel Evringham.”

“Good-bye, Jewel, till we meet again, some Sunday soon, I hope.”

They shook hands, and Mr. Reeves went smiling on his way.

“Seven years,” he reflected. “There’s the simón pure article. She can’t be over nine. I’ll wager Bel-Air Park has had its sensations of late. Evringham! The high ball, the billiard ball, and the race track, and now the reputation of being a difficult old martinet. Never unkind to anything! Why, she’s a little feminine Siegfried, that precious Jewel. Ballard and the cousin, eh? I’ve heard that rumor.”

When Dr. Ballard returned to the buggy, Jewel began loquaciously telling him of her pleasant experience.

“And he knows you, Mr. Reeves does, and he said you were a nice fellow,” she finished, beaming.

“Very civil of him, I’m sure,” returned the doctor as the horse started. “I distinctly remember his having a different opinion one night when he caught me in his favorite cherry tree; but I don’t yet understand the levity of his behavior in scraping acquaintance with the young lady I left unprotected in my buggy.”

“Oh, we’d met before in a trolley car,” explained Jewel. “I wanted to run right to him when I first saw that he was a Scientist.”

“A what? Mr. Reeves? Oh, go ’way, my little mascot. Go ’way!”

“Yes, he had on the pin-this one, you know.” Jewel touched the small gold symbol, and Dr. Ballard examined it curiously. “So we smiled at each other, and to-day he’s told me where I can come to church, and I’m nearly sure cousin Eloise will go with me.”

Dr. Ballard’s eyes grew serious as he turned Hector’s head toward the park. “I can scarcely believe it of Mr. Reeves,” he said.

“He says you are too nice to bow down to false gods,” added Jewel shyly.

“If mine are false to you, yours are false to me,” said the young man kindly. “You can understand that, can’t you, Jewel?”

“Yes, I can.”

“And we should never quarrel over it, should we?” he went on.

“No-o!” returned Jewel scornfully. “We’d get a pain.”

“But you can see,” went on the young doctor seriously, “that the more we cared for one another the more we should regret such a wide difference of opinion.”

“I suppose so,” agreed the child, “and so we’d-”

“You are going back to Chicago after a while, and so you understand that I can better afford to agree to differ with you than I could with some one who was going to stay here-your cousin Eloise, for instance.”

The child looked at him in silence. She had never seen Dr. Ballard wear this expression.

“For this reason, Jewel, I want to ask you if you won’t do me the favor not to talk to your cousin about Christian Science, nor ask her to read your books, nor to go to church with you.”

The child’s countenance reflected his seriousness.

“You can see, can’t you, that if Miss Eloise should become much interested in that fad it would spoil our pleasure in being together, while it lasted?”

The word fad was not in Jewel’s vocabulary, but she grasped the doctor’s meaning, and understood that he was much in earnest. She felt very responsible for the moment, and in doubt how to express herself.

“I feel sort of mixed up, Dr. Ballard,” she returned after a minute’s silent perplexity. “You don’t mind cousin Eloise reading the Bible, do you?”

“No.”

“You’re glad if she can be happy instead of sorry, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

Jewel looked at him hopefully. “There won’t be anything worse than that,” she said.

“Yes, many things worse,” he responded quickly. “You might do me that little favor, Jewel. I understand you go to her with your lessons, as you call it, and your questions.”

“Yes, she helps me; but she takes my books to her room. I don’t see how I can help it, Dr. Ballard.”

“Well,” he heaved a quiet sigh, “perhaps the attack will be shorter if it is sharp. We’ll hope so.”

“I wouldn’t do any harm to you for anything,” said the child earnestly, “but you wait a little while. When people come into Christian Science it makes them twice as nice. If you see cousin Eloise get twice as nice you’ll be glad, won’t you?”

The young man gave an impatient half laugh.

“I’m not grasping,” he returned. “She does very well for me as she is. Now,” he turned again to the child, who rejoiced in the recovered twinkle in his eyes, “you have my full permission to convert the error fairy.”

“Hush, hush!” ejaculated Jewel, alarmed. “We mustn’t hold that law over her.”

Dr. Ballard laughed.

“Convert her, I say. Let us see what she would be like if she were twice as nice. She’s a very charming woman now, your aunt Madge. If she were twice as nice-who knows? The fairy might spread wings and float away!”

They had entered the park and Jewel suddenly noted their surroundings. “We’re coming to the Ravine of Happiness,” she said.

“That’s the way it’s been looking to me ever since last evening,” responded her companion meditatively.

The child paid no attention to his words. She was watching eagerly for the bend in the road beside which the gorge lay steepest.

“There!” she said at last, resting her hand on that of her companion. Obediently the doctor stopped his horse. The park was still but for the bird notes, the laughter and babble of the brook far below, and the rustle of the fresh leaves, each one a transparency for a sunbeam.

The two were silent for a minute, Jewel’s radiant eyes seeking the pensive ones of her companion.

“Do you hear?” she asked softly at last.

“What?” he returned.

“It is cousin Eloise’s Spring Song.”

The doctor’s words and looks remained in Jewel’s mind after she reached home that day. She mused concerning him while she was taking off Anna Belle’s hat and jacket up in her own room.

“I don’t suppose you could understand much what he meant, dearie,” she said, her face very sober from stress of thought, “but I did. If I’d been as big as mother I could have helped him; but I knew I was too little, and when people don’t understand, mother says it is so easy to make mistakes in what you say to them.”

Anna Belle’s silence gave assent, and her sweet expression was always a solace to Jewel, who kissed the hard roses in her cheeks repeatedly before she sat her in the big chair by the window and went down to lunch. Anna Belle’s forced abstemiousness had ceased to afflict her. At the lunch table she gave a vivacious account of the morning’s diversions, and for once Mrs. Evringham listened to what she said, a curious expression on her face. This lady had expected to endure annoyance with this child on her grandfather’s account; but for unkind fate to cause Jewel to be a hindrance and a marplot in the case of Dr. Ballard was adding insult to injury.

The child, suddenly catching the expression of Mrs. Evringham’s eyes as they rested upon her, was startled, and ceased talking.

“Aunt Madge does love me,” she declared mentally. “God’s children love one another every minute, every minute.”

“So Mr. Reeves told you where you can go to church,” said Eloise, replying to Jewel’s last bit of information.

“Yes, and”-the little girl was going on eagerly to suggest that her cousin accompany her, when suddenly Dr. Ballard’s eyes seemed looking at her and repeating their protest.

She stopped, and ate for a time in silence. Mrs. Forbes paid little attention to what was being said. She moved about perfunctorily, with an air of preoccupation. She had a more serious trouble now than the care and intrusion of the belongings of Lawrence and Harry Evringham, a worry that for days and nights had not ceased to gnaw at her heart, first as a suspicion and afterward as a certainty.

When luncheon was over, Eloise in leaving the dining-room, put her arm around Jewel’s shoulders, and together they strolled through the hall and out upon the piazza.

Mrs. Evringham looked after them. “If only that child weren’t a little fanatic and Eloise in such an erratic, wayward state, ready to seize upon anything novel, it would be all very well,” she mused, “for Dr. Ballard seems to find Jewel amusing, and it might be a point of common interest. As it is, if ever I wished any one in Jericho, it’s that child.”

Jewel, happy in the proximity of her lovely cousin, satisfied herself by a glance that aunt Madge was not following.

Eloise looked about over the sunny, verdant landscape. “What a deceitful world,” she said. “It looks so serene and easy to live in. So it was very lovely over at your ravine this morning?”

“Oh!” Jewel looked up at her with eager eyes. “Let’s go. You haven’t been there. It’s only a little way. You don’t need your hat, cousin Eloise.”

Summer was in the air. The girl was amused at the child’s enthusiastic tone. “Very well,” she answered.

Jewel drew her on with an embracing arm, and they descended the steps and walked down the path.

Suddenly the child stopped. “Doesn’t it seem unkind to go without Anna Belle!” she exclaimed.

“Oh, nonsense,” returned Eloise, smiling. “You’re not going way upstairs to get her. We needn’t tell her we went. She’s been out driving all the morning. I think it’s my turn.”

The child looked happily up into her cousin’s face. “I love to see you laugh, cousin Eloise,” she returned, and they strolled on.

The park drives were deserted. The cousins reached the gorge without meeting any one. Leaning upon the slender fence, they gazed down into the green depths, and for a minute listened to the woodland melody.

“Isn’t it just like your Spring Song?” asked the child at last.

“It is sweet and comforting and good,” replied the girl slowly, a far-off look in her eyes.

Jewel lifted her shoulders. “Don’t you want to get down there, cousin Eloise?” she asked, her eyes sparkling.

“Yes,” replied the girl promptly.

“Will it hurt your dress?” added Jewel, with a sudden memory of Mrs. Forbes, as she looked over her cousin’s immaculate black and white costume.

“I guess not,” laughed the girl. “Are you afraid Mrs. Forbes will put me to bed?”

She bent her lithe figure and was under the wire in a twinkling. Jewel crept gleefully after her, but was careful to hold her little skirts out of harm’s way as they climbed down the steep bank and at last rested among the ferns by the brook. Its louder babble seemed to welcome them. Nature had been busy at her miracle working since the child’s last visit. Without moving she could have gathered a handful of little blossoms. Instead, she rolled over and kissed a near clump of violets. “You darling, darling things!” she said.

Eloise looked up through far boughs to the fleece-flecked sky. “Everything worth living for is right here, Jewel,” she said. “Let’s have a tent and not give any one our address.”

“I think we ought to let Dr. Ballard come, don’t you?”

“Now why did you pick him out?” returned Eloise plaintively. She was resting her head against her clasped hands as she stretched herself against the incline of her verdant couch. Her companion did not reply at once, and Eloise lazily turned her head to where she could view the eyes fixed upon her.

“What are you thinking of, Jewel?”

“I was just thinking that if my mother made you a thin green dress that swept around you all long and narrow, you’d look like a flower, too.”

The girl smiled back at the sky. “That’s very nice. You can think those thoughts all you please.”

“That wasn’t all, though, because I was thinking about Dr. Ballard. He feels sorry. I couldn’t tell you about it at lunch, because aunt Madge-well, because-”

“Yes,” returned Eloise quietly. “It is better for us to be alone.”

Jewel’s brow relaxed. “Yes,” she said contentedly, “in the Ravine of Happiness.”

“Look out, though,” continued the girl in the same quiet tone and looking back at the sky. “Look out what you say here. It is easy now to feel that all is harmonious, and that discords do not exist. I think even if grandfather appeared I could talk with him peacefully.”

“I have thought about it,” returned the child, “and it seems hard to know what to say; but I love you and Dr. Ballard both, so it will be sure to come out right. He feels sorry if you are beginning to like to study Christian Science.”

“Really, did he speak of that to you? I think he might have chosen a man of his size.”

“Of course he spoke of it when he found out I wanted to ask you to take me to our church.”

“Where is the church here?” Eloise abandoned her lazy tone.

“They have a hall. Mr. Reeves wrote it down for me. Do you really care, cousin Eloise? You’ve been so kind and helped me, but do you really begin to care?”

“Care? Who could help caring, if it is true? I’ve been reading some of the tales of cures in your magazine. If those people tell the truth”-

“Why, cousin Eloise!” The child’s shocked eyes recalled the girl’s self-centred thoughts.

“I beg your pardon, dear. It was rude to say that. I’m not ill, Jewel. I’m so well and strong that-I’ve sometimes wished I wasn’t, but life turned petty and disgusting to me. I resented everything. It is just as wonderful and radiant a star of hope to read that there is a sure way out of my tangle as if I had consumption and was promised a cure of that. I don’t yet exactly believe it, but I don’t disbelieve it. All I know is I want to read, read, read all the time. I was just thinking a minute ago that if we had the books here it would be perfect. This is the sort of place where it would be easiest to see that only the good is the real, and that the unsubstantiality of everything evil can be proved.”

Jewel gave her head a little shake. “Just think of poor Dr. Ballard being afraid to have you believe that.”

“But who wouldn’t be afraid to believe it, who wouldn’t!” exclaimed the girl vehemently.

“Why, I’ve always known it, cousin Eloise,” returned the child simply.

“You dear baby. You haven’t lived long. I don’t want to climb into a fool’s paradise only to fall out with a dull thud.”

Jewel looked at her, grasping as well as she could her meaning. “I know I’m only a little girl; but if you should go to church with me,” she said, “you’d see a lot of grown-up people who know it’s true. Then we could go on Wednesday evenings and hear them tell what Christian Science has done for them.”

“Oh, I’m sure I shouldn’t like that,” responded Eloise quickly. “How can they bear to tell!”

“They don’t think it’s right not to. There are lots of other people besides you that are sorry and need to learn the truth.”

The rebuke was so innocent and, withal, so direct, that honest Eloise turned toward Jewel and made an impulsive grasp toward her, capturing nothing but the edge of the child’s dress, which she held firmly.

“You’re right, Jewel. I’m a selfish, thin-skinned creature,” she declared.

The little girl shook her head. “You’ve got to stop thinking you are, you know,” she answered. “You have to know that the error Eloise isn’t you.”

“That’s mortal mind, I suppose,” returned Eloise, smiling at the sound of the phrase.

“I should think it was! Old thing! Always trying to cheat us!” said Jewel. “All that you have to do is to remember every minute that God’s child must be manifested. He inherits every good and perfect thing, and has dominion over every belief of everything else.”

Eloise stared at her in wonder. “Do you know what you’ve talking about, you little thing, when you use all those long words?”

“Yes. Don’t you?” asked the child. “Oh, listen!” for a bird suddenly poured a wild strain of melody from the treetop.

“And just think,” said Jewel presently, in a soft, awestruck tone, “that some people wear birds sewed on their hats, just as if they were glad something was dead!”

“It is weird,” agreed Eloise. “I never liked it. Jewel, did Dr. Ballard blame you because I am interested in Christian Science?”

“He said he wished I wouldn’t talk to you and go to church and everything.”

The girl bit a blade of grass and eyed the child’s serious face.

“Well, what are you going to do about it?”

“I asked God to show me. I wish Dr. Ballard would study with you.”

“That is impossible. He has spent years learning his science, and he loves it and is proud of it; so what next?”

“Very queer things happen sometimes,” rejoined Jewel doubtfully.

“But not so queer as that would be,” returned Eloise.

Jewel was pondering. This was very delicate ground, and she still felt some awe of her cousin; however, there was only one thing to consider.

“Do you love him better than anybody, cousin Eloise?” she asked.

A flood of color warmed the girl’s face, but she had to smile.

“Would that make the difference?” she asked. “Mustn’t we want the truth anyway?”

Jewel heaved a mighty sigh. She was thinking of Dr. Ballard’s pensive eyes. “I should think so,” she answered frankly; “because if you just study the truth, and hold on tight, how can things be anything but happy at last? I wish I was more grown up, cousin Eloise,” she added apologetically.

“Oh no, no,” answered the girl, with a little catch in her throat. “I’ve had so much of grown-up people, Jewel! I’m so grown up myself! Just a little while ago I was a schoolgirl, busy and happy all the time. I never even went out anywhere except with father, and with Nat when he was at home from college. You don’t know Nat, but you’d like him.”

“Why! Is he a Christian Scientist?”

For answer Eloise laughed low but heartily. “Nat a Christian Scientist!” she mused aloud. “Not exactly, my little cousin!”

“Then should I like him as well as Dr. Ballard?” asked Jewel incredulously.

“I don’t know. Tastes differ.”

“Does he like horses?” asked the child.

“He knows everything about a horse and a yacht except how to pay for them, poor boy,” returned Eloise.

“Is he poor?”

“Yes, he is poor and expensive. It is a bad combination; it is almost as bad as being poor and extravagant. His mother is a widow, and they haven’t much, but what there was she has insisted on spending on him-that is, all she could spare from the doctor’s bills.”

“She needs Science then, doesn’t she?”

“Jewel, that would be one thing that would keep me from wanting to be a Scientist. What’s the fun of being one unless everybody else is? My mother, for instance.”

“Yes; but then you’d find out how to help her.”

Eloise glanced at the child curiously. She thought it would be interesting to peep into Jewel’s mind and see her estimate of Aunt Madge.

“My mother has a great deal to trouble her,” she said loyally.

“Yes, I know she thinks she has,” returned the child.

Again her response surprised her companion.

“I’ll take you as you are, Jewel,” she said. “I’m glad you’re not grown up. You’re fresher from the workshop.”