There was once a little girl who was very, very poor. Her father and mother had died, and at last she had no little room to stay in, and no little bed to sleep in, and nothing more to eat except one piece of bread. So she said a prayer, put on ... Read more of THE STAR DOLLARS at Children Stories.caInformational Site Network Informational
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A Rainy Morning







From: Jewel

The next morning it rained so heavily that Mr. Evringham was obliged to
forego his ride. Wet weather was an unmixed ill to him. It not only
made riding and golf miserable, but it reminded him that rheumatism was
getting a grip on one of his shoulders.

"It is disgusting, perfectly disgusting to grow old," he muttered as he
descended the broad staircase. On the lower landing Jewel rose up out
of the dusk, where she had been sitting near the beautiful clock. Her
bright little face shone up at him like a sunbeam.

"You didn't expect to see me, grandpa, did you?" she asked, and as it
did not even occur to him to stoop his head to her, she seized his hand
and kissed it as they went on down the stairs.

"I was so disappointed because it rained so hard. I was going to see you
ride."

"Yes. Beastly weather," assented Mr. Evringham.

"But the flowers and trees want a drink, don't they?"

"'M. I suppose so."

"And the brook will be prettier than ever."

"'M. See that you keep out of it."

"Yes, I will, grandpa; and I thought the first thing this morning, I'll
wear my rubbers all day. I was so afraid I might forget I put them right
on to make sure."

They had reached the hall, and Jewel exhibited her feet encased in the
roomy storm rubbers.

"Great Scott, child!" ejaculated Mr. Evringham, viewing the shiny
overshoes. "What size are your feet?"

"I don't know," returned the little girl, "but I only have to scuff
some, and then they'll stay on. Mrs. Forbes said I'd grow to them."

"So you will, I should think, if you're going to wear them in the house
as well as out." It was against Mr. Evringham's principles to smile
before breakfast, at all events at any one except Essex Maid; but the
large, shiny overshoes that looked like overgrown beetles, and Jewel's
optimistic determination to make him happy, even offset his painful arm.

"The house doesn't leak anywhere," he said. "I think it will be safe for
you to take them off until after breakfast."

Jewel lifted her shoulders and looked up at him with the glance he knew.

"Unless we're going out to the stable," she said suggestively.

He hesitated a moment. "Very well," he returned. "Let us go to the
stable."

"But first we must tie the ribbons," she said with a joyous chuckle.
She would have skipped but for the rubbers. As it was, she proceeded
circumspectly to the library, drawing the broker by the hand. "I want
you to see, grandpa, if you don't think I made my parting real straight
this morning," she said as she softly closed the door.

"Gently on my arm, Jewel," he remonstrated, wincing as she returned,
flinging her energetic little body against him. "I have the rheumatism
like the devil--pardon me."

She looked at him suddenly, wondering and wistful. "Oh, have you?" she
returned sympathetically. "But it is only like the devil, grandpa," she
added hopefully, "and you know there isn't any devil."

"I can't discuss theology before breakfast," he returned briefly.

"Dear grandpa, you shan't have a single pain!" She held her head back
and looked at him lovingly.

"Very likely not, when I've begun playing the harp. Now where are those
con--those ribbons?"

Jewel's eyes and lips grew suddenly serious and doubtful, and he
observed the change.

"Yes, your hair ribbons, you know," he added hastily and with an attempt
at geniality.

"Not if you don't like to, grandpa."

"I love to," he protested. "I've been looking forward to it all the
morning. I thought 'never mind if I can't go riding, I can tie Jewel's
hair ribbons.'"

The child laughed a little, even though her companion did not. "Oh
grandpa, you're such a joker," she said; "just like father."

But he saw that she doubted his mood, and the toe of one of the
overshoes was boring into the carpet as she stood where she had
withdrawn from him.

"Let us see if you parted your hair better," he said in a different and
gentler tone, and instantly the flaxen head was bent before him, and
Jewel felt in her pocket for the ribbons. He had not the heart to say
what he thought; namely, that her parting looked as though a saw had
been substituted for a comb.

"Very well, very well," he said kindly.

When the ribbons were at last tied, the two proceeded to the
dining-room. Here an open fire of logs furnished the cheerful light that
was lacking outside. The morning paper hung over the back of a chair,
warming before the blaze.

Mrs. Forbes entered from the butler's pantry and looked surprised.
"I didn't expect you down for half an hour yet, sir. Shall I hurry
breakfast?"

"No; I'm going to take Jewel to the stable." Mr. Evringham stopped and
took a few lumps of sugar from the bowl.

"Julia, where are your rubbers?" asked the housekeeper.

"On," said the child, lifting her foot.

"I only hope they'll stay there," remarked her grandfather. "I think,
Mrs. Forbes, you must buy shoes as I've heard that Chinamen do,--the
largest they can get for the money."

He disappeared with his happy little companion, and the housekeeper
looked after them disapprovingly.

"They're both going out bareheaded," she mused. "I'd like to bet--I
would bet anything that she asked him to take her. He never even stopped
to look at the paper. He's just putty in her hands, that's what he is,
putty; and she's been here three days."

Mr. Evringham's apprehensions proved to have foundation. Halfway to
the barn Jewel stepped in a bit of sticky mud and left one rubber. Her
companion did not stop to let her get it, but picking her up under his
well arm, strode on to the barn, where they appeared to the astonished
Zeke.

Jewel was laughing in high glee. She was used to being caught up in a
strong arm and run with.

Mr. Evringham shook the drops from his head. "Get Jewel's rubber please,
Zeke," he said, pointing with his thumb over his shoulder.

"I was Cinderella," cried the child gayly. "That's my glass slipper out
there in the mud."

Zeke would have liked to joke with her, but that was an impossibility in
the august presence. He cast a curious glance at the little girl as
he left the barn. He had received his mother's version of yesterday's
experience. "Well, it looks to me as if there was something
those Christian Science folks know that the rest of us don't," he
soliloquized. "I saw her with my own eyes, and felt her with my own
hands. Mother says children get up from anything twice as quick as grown
folks, but I don't know."

"Don't you love a stable, grandpa?" exclaimed Jewel. "Oh, I'm too happy
to scuff," and she kicked off the other rubber. Even while she spoke
Essex Maid looked around and whinnied at sight of her master.

"She knows you, she knows you," cried the little girl joyously, hopping
up and down.

"Of course," said Mr. Evringham, holding out his hand to the delighted
child and leading her into the stall. The mare rubbed her nose against
him. "We couldn't get out this morning, eh, girl?" said the broker,
caressing her neck, while Jewel smoothed the bright coat as high as she
could reach. Her grandfather lifted her in his arms. "Here, my maid,
here's a new friend for you. In my pocket, Jewel."

The child took out the lumps of sugar one by one, and Essex Maid ate
them from the little hand, touching it gently with her velvet lips. Zeke
came in and whistled softly as he glanced at the group in the stall.

"Whew," he mused. "He's letting her feed the Maid. I guess she can put
her shoes in his trunk all right."

Mr. Evringham set Jewel on the mare's back and she smoothed the bright
mane and patted the beautiful creature.

"I'd like to gallop off now over the whole country," she said, her face
glowing.

"I shouldn't be surprised either if you could do it bareback," returned
Mr. Evringham; "but you must never come into either of the stalls
without me. You understand, do you?"

"Yes, grandpa. I'm glad you told me though, because I guess I should
have." The child gave a quick, unconscious sigh.

"Well we'd better go in now."

"How kind you are to me," said the child gratefully, as she slid off the
horse's back with her arms around her grandfather's neck.

He had forgotten his rheumatic shoulder for the time.

"You can bring those rubbers in later," he said to Zeke, and so carried
Jewel out of the barn, through the rain, and into the house.

Mrs. Forbes watched the entrance. "Breakfast is served, sir," she said
with dignity. She thought her employer should have worn a hat.

Jewel was not offered eggs this morning. Instead she had, after her
fruit and oatmeal, a slice of ham and a baked potato.

Her roses were fresh this morning and opening in the warmth of the fire,
but Mr. Evringham's eyes were caught by a mass of American Beauties
which stood in an alcove close to the window.

"Where did those come from?" he demanded.

"They belong to Miss Eloise," replied Mrs. Forbes. "She asked me to take
care of them for her."

"Humph! Ballard again, I suppose," remarked the broker.

"I hope so," responded Mrs. Forbes devoutly.

Mr. Evringham had spoken to himself, and he glanced up from his paper,
surprised by the prompt fervor of the reply. The housekeeper looked
non-committal, but her meaning dawned upon him, and he smiled slightly
as he returned to the news of the day.

"Dr. Ballard must love Cousin Eloise very much," said Jewel, mashing her
potato. "He sent her a splendid box of candy, too."

She addressed her remark to Mrs. Forbes, and in a low tone, in order not
to disturb her grandfather's reading.

"Any girl can get candy and flowers and love, if she's only pretty
enough," returned Mrs. Forbes; "but she mustn't forget to be pretty."

The speaker's tone appealed to Jewel as signifying a grievance. She
looked up.

"Why, somebody married you, Mrs. Forbes," she said kindly.

Mr. Evringham's paper hid a face which suddenly contorted, but the
housekeeper's quick-glancing eyes could not see a telltale motion.

She gave a hard little laugh. "You think there's hope for you then, do
you?" she returned.

"I guess I'm not going to be married," replied Jewel. "Father says I'm
going to be his bachelor maid when I grow up."

"Shouldn't wonder if you were," said Mrs. Forbes dryly.

The owner of the American Beauties and the beribboned bonbon box was
taking her coffee as usual in bed. This luxurious habit had never been
hers until she came to Bel-Air; but it was her mother's custom, and
rather than undergo a tete-a-tete breakfast with her host, she had
adopted it.

Now she had made her toilet deliberately. There was nothing to hurry
for. Her mother's voice came in detached sentences and questions from
the next room.

"Dear me, this rain is too trying, Eloise! Didn't you have some
engagement with Dr. Ballard to-day?"

"He thought he could get off for some golf this afternoon."

"What a disappointment for the dear fellow," feelingly. "He has so
little time to himself!"

Eloise gave a most unsympathetic laugh. "More than he wishes he had, I
fancy," she returned.

She came finally in her white negligee into her mother's room. Mrs.
Evringham was still in bed. Her eyeglasses were on and she regarded her
daughter critically as she came in sight. She had begun to look upon her
as mistress of the fine old Ballard place on Mountain Avenue, and
the setting was very much to her mind. The girl sauntered over to the
window, and taking a low seat, leaned her head against the woodwork,
embowered in the lace curtains.

"How it does come down!" said Mrs. Evringham fretfully. "And I lack
just a little of that lace braid, or I could finish your yoke. I suppose
Forbes would think it was a dreadful thing if I asked her to let Zeke
get it for me."

"Don't ask anything," returned Eloise.

"When you are in your own home!" sighed Mrs. Evringham.

"Don't, mother. It's indecent!"

"If you would only reassure me, my child, so I wouldn't have to undergo
such moments of anxiety as I do."

"Oh, you have no mercy!" exclaimed the girl; and when she used that tone
her mother usually became tearful. She did now.

"You act as if you weren't a perfect treasure, Eloise--as if I didn't
consider you a treasure for a prince of the realm!"

A knock at the door heralded Sarah's arrival for the tray, and Mrs.
Evringham hastily wiped her eyes.

"Yes, you can take the things," she said as the maid approached. "I
can't tip you as I should, Sarah. I'm going to get you something pretty
the next time I go to New York."

Sarah had heard this before.

"And if you know of any one going to the village this morning, I want a
piece of lace braid. Have you heard how Miss Julia is?"

"She was down at breakfast, ma'am, and Mr. Evringham had her out to the
stable to see Essex Maid."

"He did? In the rain? How very imprudent!"

After Sarah had departed with her burden, Mrs. Evringham took off her
eyeglasses.

"There, Eloise, you heard that? It's just as I thought. He is taking a
fancy to her."

The girl smiled without turning her head. "Oh no, that wasn't your
prophecy, mother. You said she was too plain to have a chance with our
fastidious host."

"Well, didn't she look forlorn last night at the dinner table?" demanded
Mrs. Evringham, a challenge in her voice.

"Indeed she did, the poor baby. She looked exactly as if she had two
female relatives in the house, neither of whom would lift a finger to
help her, even though she was just off a sick bed. The same relatives
don't know this minute how or where she spent the evening."

"I felt very glad she was content somewhere away from the drawing-room,"
returned Mrs. Evringham practically. "You know we expected Dr. Ballard
up to the moment the roses arrived, and from all I gathered at the
dinner table, it would have been awkward enough for him to walk in upon
that child. Besides, I don't see why you use that tone with me. It has
been your own choice to let her paddle her own canoe, and you've had an
object lesson now that I hope you won't forget. You wouldn't believe me
when I begged you to exert yourself for your grandfather, and now you
see even that plain little thing could get on with him just because she
dared take him by storm. She has about everything in her disfavor. The
child of a common working woman, with no beauty, and a little crank of
a Christian Scientist into the bargain, and yet now see! He took her
out to the stable to see Essex Maid! I never knew you contradictory and
disagreeable until lately, Eloise. You even act like a stick with Dr.
Ballard just to be perverse." Mrs. Evringham flounced over in bed, with
her back to the white negligee.

Eloise had seen what she had been watching for. Her grandfather had
driven away to the station, so she arose and came over to the foot of
the bed.

"I know I'm irritable, mother," she said repentantly. "The idleness and
uselessness of my life have grated on me until I know I'm not fit to
live with. If I had had any of the training of a society girl, I could
bear it better; but papa kept my head full of school,--for which I bless
him,--and now that the dream of college is hopeless, and that the
only profession you wish for me is marriage, I dread to wake up in the
mornings."

The young voice was unsteady.

Mrs. Evringham heaved a long sigh. "Give me patience!" she murmured,
then added mentally, "It can't be many days, and she won't refuse him."

"Go down to the piano and play yourself good-natured," she returned.
"Then come up and we'll go on with that charming story. It quite
refreshed me to read of that coming-out ball. It was so like my own."

Eloise, her lips set in a sad curve, rose and left the room. Once in the
hall, she paused for a minute. Then instead of descending the stairs,
she ran noiselessly up the next flight. The rain was pelting steadily
on the dome of golden glass through which light fell to the halls. She
stole, as she had done yesterday, to the door of Jewel's room.

Again as yesterday she heard a voice, but this time it was singing. The
tones were very sweet, surprisingly strong and firm to proceed from lips
which always spoke so gently. The door was not quite closed, and Eloise
pressed her ear to the crack. Thus she could easily hear the words of
Jewel's song:--

"And o'er the earth's troubled, angry sea
I see Christ walk;
And come to me, and tenderly,
Divinely, talk."

The hymn stopped for a minute, and the child appeared to be conversing
with some one.

Eloise waited, openly, eagerly listening, hoping the singer would
resume. Something in those unexpected words in the sweet child voice
stirred her. Presently Jewel sang on:--

"From tired joy, and grief afar,
And nearer Thee,
Father, where Thine own children are
I love to be!"

The lump that rose in the listener's throat forced a moisture into her
eyes.

"I never could hear a child sing without crying," she said to herself in
excuse, as she leaned her forehead on her hand against the jamb of the
door and waited for the strange stir at her heart to quiet.

The house was still. The rain swept against the panes, and tears stole
from under the girl's long lashes--tears for her empty, vapid life, for
the hopelessness of the future, for the humiliations of the present, for
the lack of a love that should be without self-interest.

"I like that verse, Anna Belle," said the voice within. "Let's sing that
again," and the hymn welled forth:--

"From tired joy, and grief afar,
And nearer Thee,
Father, where Thine own children are
I love to be!"

"Is there a haven?" thought the swelling, listening heart outside. "Is
there a place far alike from tired joy and grief?"

"'Father, where Thine own children are,'" quoted Jewel. "We know where
a lot of them are, don't we, Anna Belle, and we do love to be with
them." A pause, and a light sigh, which did not reach the listener. "But
we're at grandpa's now," finished the child's voice.

Eloise's breaths came long and deep drawn, and she stood motionless, her
eyes hidden.





Next: The First Lesson

Previous: Family Affairs



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