Read CHAPTER XXI - AN EFFORT FOR TRUTH of Jewel A Chapter In Her Life , free online book, by Clara Louise Burnham, on ReadCentral.com.

When Eloise spoke in the ravine of talking with her grandfather, it was because for a few days she had been trying to make up her mind to an interview with him. A fortnight ago she would have felt this to be impossible; but subtle changes had been going on in herself, and, she thought, in him. If her mother would undertake the interview now and take that stand with Mr. Evringham which Eloise felt that self-respect demanded, the girl would gladly escape it; but there was no prospect of such a thing. Mrs. Evringham was only too glad to benefit by her father-in-law’s modified mood, to glide along the surface of things and wait-Eloise knew it, knew it every day, in moments when her cheeks flushed hot-for Dr. Ballard to throw the handkerchief.

The girl wished to talk with Mr. Evringham without her mother’s knowledge, and the prospect was a dreaded ordeal. She felt that they had won his contempt, and she feared the loss of her own self-control when she should come to touch upon the sore spots.

“What would you do, Jewel,” she asked the next morning, after they had read the lesson; “what would you do if you were afraid of somebody?”

“I wouldn’t be,” returned the child quickly.

“Well, I am. Now what am I going to do about it?”

Anna Belle, who always gave unwinking attention to the lesson, was in Jewel’s lap, and the child twisted out the in-turning morocco foot as she spoke.

“Why, I’d know that one thought of God couldn’t be afraid of another,” she replied in the conclusive tone to which Eloise could never grow accustomed.

“Oh, Jewel, child,” the girl said impatiently, “we’d be sorry to think most of the people we know are thoughts of God.”

“That’s because you get the error man mixed up with the real one. Mother explains that to me when we ride in cable cars and places where we see error people with sorry faces. There’s a real man, a real thought of God, behind every one of them; and when you remember to think right about people every minute, you are doing them good. Did you say you’re afraid of somebody?”

“Yes, and that somebody is a man whom I must talk to.”

“Then begin right away to know every minute that the real man isn’t anybody to be afraid of, for God made him, and God has only loving thoughts; and of course you must be loving all the time. It’ll be just as easy by the time you come to it, cousin Eloise!”

The girl often asked herself in these days why she should begin to feel unreasonably hopeful and lighter hearted. Her mother no longer complained of her moods. Mrs. Evringham laid the becoming change in her daughter’s expression to the girl’s happiness in discovering that she did reciprocate Dr. Ballard’s evident sentiments.

“Eloise is so high minded,” thought the mother complacently. “She would never be satisfied to marry for convenience, like so many;” and considering herself passingly astute, she let well enough alone, ceased to bring the physician’s name into every conversation, and bided her time.

One morning Mr. Evringham, coming out of the house to go to town, met Eloise on the piazza.

“You are down early,” he said as he greeted her, and was passing on to the carriage.

“Just one minute, grandfather!” she exclaimed, and how her heart beat. He turned his erect form in some surprise, and his cold eyes met the girlish ones.

“She’s a stunning creature,” he thought, as the sunlight bathed her young beauty; but his face was impenetrable, and Eloise nerved herself.

“Were you thinking of going golfing this afternoon?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“I thought you said something about it at dinner last evening. Would you let me go with you?”

Mr. Evringham, much astonished, raised his eyebrows and took off the hat which he had replaced.

“Such a request from youth and beauty is a command,” he returned with a slight bow.

Tears sprang to the girl’s eyes. “Don’t make fun of me, grandfather!” she exclaimed impulsively.

“Not for worlds,” he returned. “You will do the laughing when you see me drive. My hand seems to have lost its cunning this spring. Shall we say four-thirty? Very well. Good-morning.”

“Now what’s all this?” mused Mr. Evringham as he drove to the station. “Has another granddaughter fallen in love with me? Methinks not. What is she after? Does she want to get away from Ballard? Methinks not, again. She’s going to ask me for something probably. Egad, if she does, I think I’ll turn her over to Jewel.”

Eloise’s eyes were bright during the lesson that morning.

“It’s to-day, Jewel,” she said, “that I’m going to talk with that man I’m afraid of.”

“Never say that again,” returned the child vehemently. “You are not afraid. There’s no one to be afraid of. Do you want me to handle it for you?”

“What do you mean, Jewel?”

“To declare the truth for you.”

“Do you mean give me a treatment for it?”

“Yes.”

“Oh. Do you know that seems very funny to me, Jewel?”

“It seems funny to me that you are afraid, when God made you, and the man, and all of us, and there’s nothing but goodness and love in the universe. Fear is the belief of evil. Do you want to believe evil?”

“No, I hate to,” returned Eloise promptly.

“Then you go away, cousin Eloise, and I will handle the case for you.”

“Oh, are you going golfing?” said Mrs. Evringham that afternoon to her daughter. “Do put on your white duck, dear.”

“Yes, I intend to. I’m going with grandfather.”

“You are?” in extremest surprise. “Oh, wear your dark skirt, dear; it’s plenty good enough. Do you mean to say he asked you, Eloise?”

“No, I asked him.”

Mrs. Evringham stood in silent amaze, her brain working alertly. She even watched her daughter don the immaculate white golf suit, and made no further protest.

What was in the girl’s mind? When finally from her window she saw the two enter the brougham, Mr. Evringham carrying his granddaughter’s clubs, she smiled a knowing smile and nodded her head.

“I do believe I’ve wronged Eloise,” she thought. “How foolish it was to worry. I’ve been wondering how in the world I was going to get father to give her a wedding, and how I was going to get her to accept it, and now look! That child has thought of the same thing, and will manage it a hundred times better than I could.”

Jewel stood on the steps and waved her hand as the brougham rolled away. Eloise had seized and squeezed her surreptitiously in the hall before they came out.

“I do feel braced up, Jewel. Thank you,” she whispered hurriedly.

“Is the man over at the golf links?” asked the child, surprised to see that Eloise and her grandfather were going out together.

“He will be by the time I get there,” returned the girl.

As soon as the carriage door had closed and they had started, Eloise spoke. “You must think it very strange that I asked this of you, grandfather.”

There was a hint of violets clinging to the fresh white garments that brushed Mr. Evringham’s knee.

“I would not question the gifts the gods provide;” he returned.

She seemed able to rise above the fear of his sarcasms. “Not that you would be surprised at anything mother or I might ask of you,” she continued bravely, “but I have suffered, I’m sure, as much as you have during the last two months.”

“Indeed? I regret to hear that.”

If there was a sting in this reply, Eloise refused to recognize it.

“In fact I have felt so much that it has made it impossible hitherto to say anything, but Jewel has given me courage.”

Mr. Evringham smoothed his mustache. “She has plenty to spare,” he returned.

“She says,” went on Eloise, “that everything that isn’t love is hate; and hate, of course, in her category is unreal. It is because I want the real things, because I long for real things, for truth, that I asked to have this talk, grandfather, and I wanted to be quite alone with you, so I thought of this way.”

“It’s the mater she’s running away from, then,” reflected her companion. He nodded courteously. “I am at your disposal,” he returned.

Subtly the broker’s feeling toward Eloise had been changing since the evening in which Jewel wrote to her parents. His hard and fast opinion of her had been slightly shaken. The frankness of her remarks on Christian Science in the presence of Dr. Ballard the other evening had been a surprise to him. The cold, proud, noncommittal, ease-loving girl who in his opinion had decided to marry the young doctor was either less designing than he had believed, or else wonderfully certain of her own power to hold him. He found himself regarding her with new interest.

“I’ve been waiting for mother to talk with you,” she went on, “and clear up our position; but she does not, and so I must.” The speaker’s hands were tightly clasped in her lap. “I wish I had Jewel’s unconsciousness, her certainty that all is Good, for I feel-I feel shame before you, grandfather.”

It seemed to Mr. Evringham that Jewel’s eyes were appealing to him.

“She says,” he returned with a rather grim smile, “Jewel avers that I am kindness itself inside. Let us admit it for convenience now, and see if you can’t speak freely.”

“Thank you. You know what I am ashamed of: staying here so long; imposing upon you; taking everything for granted when we have no right. I want to understand our affairs; to know if we have anything, and what it is; to have you help me, you; to have you tell me how we can live independently, and help me to make mother agree to it. Oh, if you would-if you could be my friend, grandfather. I need you so!”

Mr. Evringham received this impetuous outburst without change of countenance. “How about Ballard?” he said. “I thought he was going to settle all this.”

There was silence in the brougham. The flash of hurt in the girl’s eyes was quenched by quick tears. Her companion reddened under the look of surprise she bent upon him, her lovely lips unsteady.

“No offense,” he added hastily. “Ballard’s sentiments are evident enough, and he is a fine fellow.”

Eloise controlled herself. “Will you take the trouble to explain our affairs to me?” she asked.

“Certainly,” responded Mr. Evringham quickly. “I wish for your sake there was more to explain, more possibilities in the case.”

“We have nothing?” exclaimed the girl acutely.

“Your father took heavy chances and lost. His affairs are nearly settled, and what there is left is small indeed.” The speaker cast a quick glance at the girl beside him. She had caught her lip between her teeth. Jewel’s soft voice sounded in his ears. “Cousin Eloise feels sorry because she isn’t your real relation.” An inkling of what the girl might suffer came to him.

“Your mother and you have a claim upon me,” he went on. “I should certainly feel a responsibility of all my son’s debts, and the one to his wife and daughter in particular. I will try to make the situation easier for you in some way.”

“Manage for us to go away, grandfather. Haven’t you a little house somewhere?”

The beseeching in her tone surprised Mr. Evringham still more. What did the girl mean? Didn’t she intend to marry Ballard? He had believed her to be planning to preside in the Mountain Avenue mansion.

“Yes, it can be arranged, certainly,” he answered vaguely; “but there’s no hurry, Eloise,” he added, in the kindest tone he had ever used toward her. “Some evening we will go over the affairs, and I will show you where your mother stands financially, and we will try to make some plan that shall be satisfactory.”

Eloise gave him a grateful look, as much in response to his manner as to his words. “Thank you. The present condition is certainly-error,” she said.

“Well, we’ll try to find harmony,” replied the other. “Jewel would say it was easy. I should like to have you remain at my house at least as long as she does, Eloise. I should probably have to tie her hair ribbons again if you went.”

The two found themselves smiling at each other. The atmosphere was lightened, and the brougham drew up at the clubhouse.

Mr. Evringham handed out the girl, gave Zeke the order to return for them, and they went up the steps.

“I would drive back with him, grandfather, only that mother would wonder, and ask questions,” said Eloise. “Don’t let me detain you in any way. I’ll just sit here on the piazza.”

“Not play? Nonsense!” returned Mr. Evringham brusquely.

“Please don’t feel obliged”-Eloise began humbly.

“But I can’t help being obliged if you’ll play with me,” interrupted her companion.

Some men observed the confidential attitude of the broker and the beautiful girl. “What’s doing over there?” asked one. “Is Evringham beginning to take notice?”

“Why, don’t you know?” returned the other. “That’s his granddaughter.”

“His daughter, do you mean? Didn’t know he had one.”

“Not a bit of it. She’s Lawrence’s stepdaughter.”

The other shook his head. “That’s too involved for me. She’s a queen, anyway.”

“Going to marry Ballard, they say.”

“That so? Then I won’t go up and fall on Evringham’s neck. My bank book isn’t in Ballard’s class. She can play, too,” as he observed Eloise make a drive while she waited the reappearance of her companion from the clubhouse. “Isn’t that a bird!-and say, there’s young Lochinvar himself!” for here a light automobile whizzed briskly up to the clubhouse.

Dr. Ballard sprang out, for he had recognized the figure at the first teeing ground.

“You gave me the slip!” he cried as he approached.

“Oh, I just went with a handsomer man,” returned Eloise, smiling, as they shook hands.

“I didn’t know I could come until the last minute, then I went to the house for you and found I had missed you.”

Mr. Evringham and the caddy approached. “I cut you out for once, Ballard,” he said. “Well, we’re off, Eloise. I saw you drive. I doubt if he catches us.”

Jewel’s eyes questioned Eloise that evening when she reached home, and she received the smiling, significant nod her cousin gave her with satisfaction.

It was an apparently united family party that gathered about the dinner table. Mr. Evringham and Eloise discussed their game, while Mrs. Evringham fairly rustled with complacence.

As Jewel clung to her grandfather’s neck that evening in bidding him good-night, she whispered:-

“How happy we all are!”

“Are we, really? Well now, that’s very gratifying, I’m sure. Good-night, Jewel.”