Read CHAPTER XXIV - THE RAVINE GARDEN of Jewel A Chapter In Her Life , free online book, by Clara Louise Burnham, on

Mrs. Evringham tried heroically to look impassive when her daughter returned from the ride. There was barely time then to dress for dinner, and no opportunity for confidences before the meal, nor afterward until bedtime; but the look of peace and sweetness in Eloise’s face could have but one significance to the mother, who believed that peace lay only in the direction upon which she had set her heart.

Mr. Evringham took coffee with them after dinner in the drawing-room, while Jewel caressed her watch, never tiring of looking at its clear face and the little second hand which traveled so steadily its tiny circuit.

Mrs. Evringham looked often toward the door, expectant of the doctor’s entrance. The evening wore on and he did not come. Still Eloise’s face wore the placid, restful expression. A gentle ease with her grandfather replaced her old manner.

Her mother determined to try an experiment.

“You could never guess who called to-day, Eloise,” she said suddenly.

Her daughter looked up from her coffee. “No. Who was it?”

“Nat Bonnell.”

“Really!” The girl’s tone indicated great surprise, and that only. “I wish I might have seen him.”

The addition was made so calmly, almost perfunctorily, that Mrs.
Evringham smiled with exultation.

She turned to her father-in-law. “Who would believe that Mr. Bonnell was Eloise’s brightest flame a year ago? ‘How soon are we forgot!’” she said lightly.

When Jewel had kissed them all good-night and gone upstairs, and Mr. Evringham had withdrawn to his library, Mrs. Evringham took her child’s hand and looked fondly into her eyes.

“Well?” she asked.

“Well,” returned Eloise, “do tell me everything Nat said.”

“After you’ve told me everything Dr. Ballard said. I supposed you’d fly to tell me, dear.”

The girl looked tenderly back into the eyes that were sharp with inquiry. “Dear little mother,” she returned, “it can’t be.”

“What can’t be?”

“What you wish. Dr. Ballard.”

“Have you-refused him !” Mrs. Evringham’s face whitened, and unconsciously she stepped back.

“It didn’t have to come to that. Dr. Ballard is so fine-such a wise man in so many ways. I do admire him so much.”

“What did you say to him? I will know!” exclaimed Mrs. Evringham passionately.

Eloise was mute, and her eyes besought her mother.

“Speak, I say! Was it Christian Science? Did you dare, Eloise Evringham, did you dare spoil your life-my life-our future, by scaring Dr. Ballard with that bugbear?” The angry woman was breathing fast.

“Mother dear, don’t give us something so painful to remember. Don’t, I beg of you. Dr. Ballard does not reproach me. He thinks I shall change, and he wishes to give me time to see if I do. Think of him, if you will not think of me. He would be so shocked to have you take it this way. If you could have seen how kind he was, how patient. Dear mother, don’t cry. It isn’t anything I can help, unless I should deliberately turn dishonest.”

But Mrs. Evringham did cry, and heartily. She hurried away to her own room as quickly as possible, and locked the door against Eloise, who lay awake for hours with a strange mingling of regret and joy at her heart, and a constant declaring of the truth.

At midnight the girl heard the door unlock and saw her mother emerge.

“Darling mamma!” she exclaimed, springing out of bed.

“Oh, Eloise,” moaned the poor woman, dissolving again upon her child’s shoulder. “I never went to bed without your kiss, and I can’t bear it. How can you be so cru-cru-cruel!”

“Darling, everything is going to come right,” returned Eloise, holding her close. “Nothing good would come of doing wrong. I never loved you so much as now. I never saw duty so plainly. Dearest, in one way I suffer for you, but still I was never so happy. I have grasped the end of the clue that will surely lead us safely through the labyrinth, no matter what life brings. You will see, mamma dear, after a while you will see. Don’t go back. Come into my bed.”

Disconsolately Mrs. Evringham obeyed, and in a few minutes, worn out with emotion, she had sobbed herself to sleep in her child’s arms; and although for many days afterward she wore a languid air, and declared that there was nothing to live for, she yielded herself to Eloise’s courageous and quietly joyful atmosphere, with silent wonder at her child’s altered outlook.

On the morning following the painful interview with her mother, Eloise presented herself in Jewel’s room at the usual hour.

Smiling, she approached the child and exhibited three fresh new books. India paper editions of the Bible and “Science and Health,” and the little brown pamphlet were in her hands.

“Yours?” exclaimed the child.

Eloise nodded.

“Good, good!” Jewel hopped up and down, and forthwith brought Anna Belle to have her share in the rejoicing.

“You were afraid you couldn’t get them. Now see!” cried the child triumphantly. “As if Divine Love couldn’t send you those books!”

“He showed me a way,” returned the girl. “See where I’ve written my name. I want you to put ‘Jewel’ right under it in each one.”

“Oh, in those lovely books?” said the child doubtfully. “I don’t write very well.”

“Yes, I want it, dear, when we go downstairs and can get some ink. Did anybody fix your hair yesterday?”

“I just brushed it down real smooth on the outside,” returned the child.

“It looks so,” said Eloise, laughing. “Let’s fix it before we have the lesson. By the way, what time is it, Jewel?”

The little girl smiled back at her cousin’s reflection in the glass, and took the open morocco case from the bureau. “Anna Belle and I put him to bed last night,” she said, looking fondly at the silver cherub on its velvet couch. “We’ve named him Little Faithful. He’ll come to the lesson, too. I know he’s going to be a lovely Scientist.”

“I’m sure I hope he will, and neither be fast nor lazy,” returned Eloise, as she unbraided the short pigtails.

“I tell you it wasn’t so nice getting the lesson alone yesterday,” said Jewel. “You were away all day! Did you have a nice ride?”

“Yes,” Eloise responded slowly. “The day was very nice-and so is Dr. Ballard.”

“Did he enjoy it?” asked the child hopefully. The doctor had been a good deal on her mind.

“Some of the time,” responded Eloise soberly.

“Why not all the time? Did error creep in?”

The older girl brushed away in silence for a minute.

“I didn’t mean to talk about grown-up things,” said the child, somewhat abashed. “Mother says I must be careful not to.”

“It is all right, Jewel. The new ideas I have been learning have made me see some things so clearly. One is to perceive what it is that really draws people together in a bond that cannot be broken. There is only one thing that can do it and will do it, and that is loving the same truth. Two people can have a very good time together for a while, and like each other very much, but the time comes when their thoughts fly apart unless that one bond of union is there-unless they love the same spiritual truth.”

The speaker caught, in the glass, the child’s eyes fixed attentively upon her.

“Wouldn’t Dr. Ballard look at our book?” asked Jewel softly.

“No, dear.”

The child reflected a minute, and her eyes filled. “I just love him,” she said.

Her cousin stooped and kissed her cheek. “You well may,” she returned quietly. “He deserves it.”

They studied the lesson and then went downstairs, where Jewel in her very best hand slowly transcribed her name in the new books; then she told Eloise that she was going out to the barn.

“I’m going to visit with Zeke,” she said. “He has a claim of error, and he is willing Science should help him.”

“Is he ill?”

Jewel looked off. “It isn’t that kind of error.”

“There are plenty worse,” rejoined Eloise. She looked doubtfully at the little girl. “Wouldn’t you better tell me, dear? Is it right for you to go?”

“Yes, it’s right. His mother knows it, and she’s so kind to me. What do you think! At breakfast she asked me if I wouldn’t like to bring Anna Belle down. She says I can bring her to the table whenever I want to. Isn’t it nice? The dear little creature has been so patient, never having a thing to eat!”

Eloise could not help laughing, the manner in which Jewel finished was so suddenly quaint; but she shook her head in silent wonder as she watched the short skirted figure setting forth for the barn.

“Oh cousin Eloise.” Jewel turned around. “Will you come to the ravine after lunch, and see what Anna Belle and I have done?”


Jewel walked on a little further and turned again. “You won’t wear your watch, will you?” she called.

“No, I’ll surely forget it,” returned the girl, smiling.

The small figure went on, well content.

“Oh, if I could only be invisible in that barn!” soliloquized Eloise. “How I would like to hear what she will say. How wonderful it is that that little child has more chance of success, whatever trouble Zeke has been getting into, than any full-grown, experienced sage, philosopher, or reformer, who is a worker in mortal mind.”

Anna Belle came to luncheon that day. Mrs. Forbes actually put a cushion in one of the chairs to lift the honored guest to such a height that her rosy smile was visible above the tablecloth. Not content with this hospitality, the housekeeper brought a bread-and-butter plate, upon which she placed such small proportions of food as might be calculated to tempt a dainty appetite. Jewel felt almost embarrassed by the eminence to which her child was suddenly raised.

“Oh, thank you, Mrs. Forbes,” she said; “you needn’t take so much trouble. Anna Belle’s just used to having a part of mine.”

But nothing now was too good for Anna Belle. “She shall have a cup-custard to-morrow,” returned the housekeeper.

Mrs. Evringham looked on with lack-lustre eyes. As well make much of Anna Belle as any other idol. Everything was stuffed with sawdust!

How the sunbeams glanced in the woods that day as Jewel, one hand clasping her doll and the other in Eloise’s, skipped along the road to the ravine!

When they had stooped under the wire and gone down the bank, how the brook sang, and how the violets bloomed in Jewel’s garden!

“It’s very pretty,” said Eloise, regarding the paths and flower beds which Jewel exhibited with pride. “It’s very pretty, but it lacks one thing.”

“What?” asked the child eagerly.

“A pond.”

“But it is by the side of a rushing river,” returned Jewel.

“Yes, but all the more easy to have a pond.”


“We’ll set a shallow pan, and sink it in the ground, and plant ferns about it to hang over. Anna Belle can have some little china dolls to go in wading in it.”

“Oh yes, yes!” cried Jewel delighted. “Hear that, dearie? Hear what Love is planning for you?”

Anna Belle’s nose was buried in the grass and her hat was awry. If she had a fault, it was a tendency to being overdressed. At present her plumed hat and large fluffy boa gave her an aspect unsympathetic with the surroundings. Jewel pulled her upright and placed her on the mossy divan.

“If I’d only brought the trowel I could get the hole ready,” Jewel was saying, when a whistle, soft and clear as a flute, sounded above the brook’s gurgle.

She lifted a finger in caution. “Oh,” she whispered, looking up into her cousin’s face, “the loveliest bird! Hush.”

Clear, sweet, flexible, somewhere among those high branches sounded again the same elaborate phrase.

Jewel was surprised to see her cousin’s pleased, listening expression alter to eager wonder, then the girl flushed rosy red and started up. “Siegfried!” she murmured.

Again came the bird motif sifting down through the rustling leaves.

“Nat!” called Eloise gladly.

“Any nymphs down there?” questioned a man’s voice.

“Oh yes!”

“May Pan come down?”

“Yes indeed.”

Jewel, watching and wondering, saw a young man in light clothes swing himself down from tree to tree, and at last saw both his hands close on both her cousin’s.

The two talked and laughed in unison for a minute, then Eloise freed herself and turned to the serious-faced child. “You remember my speaking of Nat the other day?” she asked. “This is he. Mr. Bonnell, this is my cousin Jewel Evringham. She is landscape gardening just now, and may not feel like giving you her hand.”

“I can wash it,” said Jewel, dipping the earthy member in the brook, wiping it on the grass, and placing it in the large one that was offered her.

“How did you ever find us? I thought you’d gone back to New York. I had no idea of seeing you,” said Eloise in a breath.

“Didn’t your mother tell you? I have a week off.”

The girl’s bright face sobered. “Poor mother! She had a-a shock after you were here yesterday. I suppose it put everything out of her head. Was it she who sent you to find us?”

“No; a massive lady met me at the door and informed me that your mother wished to be excused from every one to-day, but that you had fallen down a crack in the earth which could be reached up this road.” The speaker looked about. “As there doesn’t seem any place to stand here, hadn’t we better sit down before we fall in the brook? I might rescue you, but the current is swift.”

Eloise at once sank upon the green incline, and he followed her example. Jewel watched him with consideration, and he became aware of her gaze.

“What are you making, little girl?” he asked, with his sunshiny smile.

“A garden; and I could dig the pond if I had brought the trowel.”

“Perhaps my knife will do.” He took it out and opened the largest blade. “What do you think of that?”

“Do you suppose I should break it?” asked the child doubtfully.

“You’re welcome to try,” he replied.

She leaned forward and accepted it from his outstretched hand.