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A Shopping Expedition







From: Jewel

The housekeeper warned Jewel not to run out of doors that morning as she
wished to accompany her to the shoe store.

"I'm not going to take you, Anna Belle," Jewel said to her doll. "I
don't like to ask the giantess if I may, and of course, it won't be a
very good time anyway, so you be patient and we'll go out together this
afternoon."

Mrs. Forbes's long widow's veil, a decoration she never had discarded
hung low over her black gown as she stepped deliberately down the stairs
from her barn chamber.

"I am going with the little girl, Zeke, to buy her a pair of rubbers,"
she announced to her son.

"Going foot-back? Why don't you have out the 'broom'? One
granddaughter's got as good a right to it as the other, hasn't she?"

"I should say so, but that child, Zeke, in addition to her wonderful
boldness this morning with Mr. Evringham, that I told you about, is
perfectly crazy over horses."

"H'm. That don't surprise me. A young one that can stand up to the
governor wouldn't be afraid of anything in the way of horseflesh."

"So I decided," continued Mrs. Forbes, pulling on her roomy black
gloves, "that it would be better for her to go this morning in the
trolley."

"You did? Well if that ain't a regular step-mother act!" returned
Zeke in protest. "The kid had a bully time coming home from the depot
yesterday. Dick felt good, and he just lit out. I tell you her eyes
shone."

"I like to do what's best for folks in the end," declared Mrs. Forbes
virtuously. "Julia's parents are poor, and likely to be. She's only
going to be here six weeks, and what is the sense of encouraging a taste
she can't ever indulge? No, I'll take her in the trolley. It's a nice
morning, and I shan't mind the walk down to the gate." The speaker
marched with the dignity which was always inseparable from the veil
toward the back door of the house to give some last orders, and Zeke
lounged out with his rake toward the grounds at the front. There he
caught sight of a small figure in hat and jacket waiting on the piazza.
He turned toward it, and Jewel advanced with a smile of recognition.
She had had to look twice to identify her fine plum-colored companion of
yesterday's drive with this youth in shirt sleeves and a soft old hat.

"Well, little girl, how are you getting on?" he asked.

"Pretty well, thank you." Her beaming expression left no doubt that she
was very glad to see him.

"Not particularly flattering if she is," he mused. "Fine ladies not out
of their rooms yet, and ma doin' her duty by her to beat the band."

"Where's your doll?" he asked.

"I didn't bring her. I thought perhaps the--Mrs. Forbes would--would
just as lief she didn't come."

"Ma hasn't played with dolls for quite a spell," agreed Zeke, with a
smile that was sunshine to the child.

"You live out in the barn with the horses, don't you?" she asked
eagerly. "Will you give me permission to go out there some time?"

"Sure. Come any time."

"Mrs. Forbes said I must ask permission," responded the child with
an apprehensive glance behind her to see if her escort were arriving.
"What--what is your name?"

"Forgotten this soon? I told you Zeke."

"I thought you did, but your mother said it was something very
different."

"Ezekiel, perhaps."

"Yes, that's it. I won't forget again. How many horses has grandpa?"

"Two here, but I guess he's got more in the country. You come out to the
barn any time you feel like it. You've heard of a bell cow, haven't you?
Well, we've got the belle horse out there. She beats all creation."

"The one I saw yesterday," eagerly, "the one that runs away all the
time?"

"No. This is Mr. Evringham's riding horse."

Jewel hopped and clapped her hands. "I'll see grandpa ride. Goody! I'll
watch him."

"Go to your paths, Zeke," said a voice, and the veil appeared around the
corner of the house.

Jewel quietly joined her stately companion, and walked away sedately
beside her.

They did not exchange many words on their way to the park gates, for
Mrs. Forbes needed her breath for the rather long promenade, and Jewel
was busy looking at the trees and trim swards and crocus beds beside the
winding road.

Outside the gate they had to wait but a minute before the car came, and
after they had boarded it, the little girl was entertained by looking
out of the window, and often wished for Anna Belle's sympathy in some
novel sight or sound.

A ride of fifteen minutes brought them to the shoe store. Mrs. Forbes
seemed to know the clerk, and Jewel was finally fitted to her guardian's
satisfaction, but scarcely to her own, the housekeeper having selected
the species known as storm rubbers, and chose them as large as would
stay on.

"They're quite warm, aren't they?" said Jewel, looking down at her shiny
feet and trying to speak cheerfully.

"When you wear them you want to be warm," was Mrs. Forbes's rejoinder.

"I brought my money," said the child, in a low voice.

"No. Your grandfather wishes to make you a present of these." The
housekeeper's tone was final, and she paid for the overshoes, which were
wrapped up, and then she led Jewel out of the store.

Next door was a candy shop with alluring windows.

"I'd like to go in here," said the little girl. "Would you mind?"

"Do you spend your money for candy, Julia?"

"Yes'm. Don't you like it?" Jewel lingered, looking at the pretty
display. Easter had recently passed, and there were bright-eyed little
yellow chickens that especially took her fancy.

"It isn't a question of liking it when people are poor," returned Mrs.
Forbes. "I'm astonished that your mother encourages you to spend money
for candy."

Jewel looked up quickly. "Did you think we were poor?" she asked, with
disconcerting suddenness.

Mrs. Forbes hesitated. "Your mother is a dressmaker, isn't she?"

"Yes, she's just a splendid one. Everybody says so. We couldn't be poor,
you know. She found out about God before I was old enough to talk, so
you see all her poor time came before I can remember."

The housekeeper glanced about her furtively. "Julia, don't you know you
shouldn't use your Creator's name on the street!" she exclaimed, when
she had made certain that no one was listening.

"Why not?" asked the child.

"Why--why--it isn't a proper place. Some one might hear you."

"Well, won't you let me get some candy now? If I knew what kind you
liked, Mrs. Forbes, I'd get it."

"I don't eat candy as a rule. It's not only extravagant, it's very
unhealthy."

The little girl smiled. "How do you suppose your stomach knows what you
put into it?" she asked. "I guess you're just a little--bit--afraid,
aren't you?"

"Odder than Dick's hatband!" quoth Mrs. Forbes again, mentally. "I take
horehound drops sometimes," she said aloud, "for a cold."

"Can't you sneeze a little now?" asked Jewel, amusement twinkling in her
blue eyes. "I do want so much to go in here."

"Don't tempt Providence by making fun of sickness, Julia, or you'll
live to regret it," returned Mrs. Forbes. "I don't mind getting some
horehound drops, but be careful now and don't spend too much. A little
girl's money always burns in her pocket."

"Yes'm," returned the child dutifully, skipping up to the door of the
shop and opening it.

Mrs. Forbes followed slowly, and once inside, fell into conversation
with the girl of whom she bought the cough candy. This gave Jewel
opportunity to buy beside her caramels one of the lovely yellow
chickens, which she designed for a special purpose.

"Now don't you eat that candy before lunch. It will take away your
appetite. It is nearly lunch time now," said Mrs. Forbes as they left
the store.

"And won't you either?" asked the child, offering the open caramel bag
with a spontaneous politeness which somehow made the housekeeper feel at
a disadvantage.

"No, thank you. Stop that car, Julia, and make them wait for me," she
said, making haste slowly.

Once within, it took Mrs. Forbes a minute or two to get her breath, but
she soon noticed that her companion's eyes were fixed upon a man seated
a little way from them across the car. A smile kept coming to the
child's lips, and at last the gentleman himself recognized that he was
an object of interest. He looked at the strange little girl kindly. Her
hand went unconsciously to the small gold pin she wore. The man smiled
and touched one of similar pattern which was fastening his tie. In a
minute more his street was reached, and as he passed Jewel on his way
out of the car, he stooped and gave her ready hand a little pressure.

She colored with pleasure, and Mrs. Forbes swelled with curiosity and
disapproval. She knew the man by sight as a highly respectable citizen.
What was this wild Western child doing now? The car made too much noise
to permit of investigation, so she waited until they had left it and
entered the park gates.

"Julia," she said then, "where did you ever see that gentleman before?"

"I never did," replied the child.

"What do you mean by such bold actions, then? What will he think of
you?"

"He'll think it's all right," returned Jewel. "We have the same--the
same friends."

The housekeeper looked at her. It was beneath her dignity to ask further
questions at present, but some time she meant to renew the subject.

"It's very wrong for a little girl to take any notice of strangers," she
said.

"Yes'm," replied Jewel, "but he was--different."

Mrs. Forbes maintained silence henceforth until they reached home. "You
may hang your hat and jacket in the closet under the stairs whenever
you don't wish to go to your room," she said when she parted with her
companion at the piazza, "but don't wander away anywhere before lunch."

"No'm. Thank you for taking me, Mrs. Forbes."

"You're welcome," returned that lady, and the long black veil swept
majestically toward the barn.

Sweet and rippling music was proceeding from the house. Jewel tiptoed
across the piazza to a long window, from whence she could see the
interior of the drawing-room.

"It is the enchanted maiden," she said to herself, and sank down softly
by the window, listening eagerly to the melodious strains and smooth
runs which flowed from beneath the slender fingers. One piece followed
another in quick succession, now gay, now grave, and the listener
scarcely stirred in her enjoyment.

At last, suddenly, in the midst of a Grieg melody, the player ceased,
and crossing her arms upon the empty music rack, bowed her head upon
them in such an attitude of abandon that Jewel's heart leaped in
sympathy.

"Oh cousin Eloise! What makes her so sorry?" she thought. The child's
intuition had been strong to perceive the nature of her aunt Madge. "It
must be such an awful thing to have your own mother an error fairy. That
must be the reason. I wish I could tell her"--Jewel jumped to her feet,
but just as she was determining to go to her cousin, the soft-toned gong
pealed its mellow summons, and she saw Eloise rise from the piano in
time to meet her mother, who at that moment entered the room.

Jewel went into the house, hung up her hat and jacket, and deposited her
packages. By the time she reached the dining-room her aunt and cousin
were already seated. Mrs. Evringham put up her lorgnette as she greeted
the child. Eloise nodded a grave good-morning, and Mrs. Forbes began to
serve the luncheon.

Jewel looked in vain for any trace of excitement or tears on her
cousin's lovely face. Eloise did not address her or any one. Mrs.
Evringham did the talking. After a question as to how Jewel had spent
the morning, and without listening to the child's reply, she began to
talk to her daughter of a drive she wished to take that afternoon.

Jewel discerned that Mrs. Forbes was not kindly disposed toward the
mother and daughter, and that they ignored the housekeeper; that Eloise
was languid and out of sympathy with her mother, and that Mrs. Evringham
was impatient with her, often to the verge of sharpness. The child was
glad when luncheon was over; but before going upstairs she brought her
small bag of caramels and offered them to the ladies.

Mrs. Evringham gave a little laugh of surprise and looked at Eloise, who
took one with a sober "Thank you."

"I don't believe I could, child," said aunt Madge, glancing with
amusement at the striped bag. "Keep them for yourself."

"You'll have some, won't you, Mrs. Forbes?" asked Jewel, and the
housekeeper so strongly disapproved of Mrs. Evringham's manner that she
accepted.

"Perhaps you would like to try some of our candy, Julia," said Mrs.
Evringham, as the child followed her aunt and cousin upstairs.

Jewel paused while aunt Madge brought from her room into the hall a
large box, beribboned and laced, full of a variety of confections.

"How pretty!" exclaimed the child.

"This is from your friend, Dr. Ballard," said her aunt. "He sent it to
the charming little girl, Eloise."

Jewel, running on up to her room eating the creamy chocolate, wondered
still more why her cousin should seem so sorry, with so much to make her
happy.

"Now, Anna Belle, the time has really come," she said happily to her
doll, as she took her in her arms and began putting on her jacket and
hat. "We're going away from Castle Discord to seek our fortunes. We're
going to leave the giantess, and leave the impolite error fairy, and
leave the poor enchanted maiden, and go to find the ravine and the
brook. Wait till I put on my oldest shoes, for we shall have to climb
deep, deep down to get near to father."

At last she was ready, and when she had closed the heavy house door
behind her, and had run down the driveway to the park road, a delicious
sense of freedom possessed her.

"There goes the little Westerner," observed Mrs. Evringham, looking from
her window. "It's a good thing she knows how to amuse herself."

"A good thing, indeed," returned Eloise. "There is no one here to do
anything for her."

"She has wonderful assurance for such a plain little monkey," went on
Mrs. Evringham.

"She has extremely good breeding," returned her daughter, coming to the
window and following Jewel's retreating figure with her eyes, "and a
charming face when she smiles."

"Very well. Look out for yourself, then. I thought last night, once or
twice, at dinner, that she was rather entertaining to her grandfather."

"She has her doll," said Eloise wistfully. "Where can she be going? I
wish I were going with her."

Mrs. Evringham laughed. "Well, you are bored. Pshaw, my dear! Lie
down and get a little beauty sleep. Then we will go driving and see
that charming spot Dr. Ballard told us about. I'm sure he will call
to-night."





Next: The Ravine

Previous: A Happy Breakfast



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