In The Harness Room
"Mother, can I have three dollars?" asked Eloise the next morning.
"Were you thinking of a new riding hat, dear? I do wish you had it to
wear this afternoon. Yours is shabby, certainly, but you can't get it
for that, child."
"No; I was thinking of a copy of 'Science and Health.' I don't like to
take Jewel's any longer, and I'm convinced."
"What of--sin?" asked Mrs. Evringham in dismay.
"No, just the opposite--that there needn't be any. The book teaches the
truth. I know it."
"Well, whether it does or doesn't, you haven't any three dollars to
spend for a book, Eloise," was the firm reply. "The idea, when I can
barely rake and scrape enough together to keep us presentable!"
"Where do you get our money?" asked the girl.
"Father gives me a check every fortnight. Of course you know that he has
charge of our affairs."
Eloise's serene expression did not change. She looked at the little
black book in her hand. "This edition costs five dollars," she said.
"Scandalous!" exclaimed Mrs. Evringham. "I can tell you this is no time
for us to be collecting editions de luxe. Wait till you're married."
"I'm going to run in town for a while this morning, mother."
"You are? Well don't get belated. You know that you are to ride with Dr.
Ballard at half past four. Dear me," her brow drawn, "you ought to have
that hat. Now I think that I could get on without that jet bolero."
Eloise laughed softly and drew her mother to her. "Have your jet bolero,
dear," she answered. "My hat isn't bad."
Eloise went to her room, and closing the door, took from one of her
drawers a box. It contained her girlish treasures, the ornaments and
jewels her father had given her from time to time. She took out a small
diamond ring and pressed it to her lips.
"Dear papa! I love it because you gave it to me, but I can get with it a
wonderful thing, a truth which, if we had known it, would have saved you
all those torturing hours, would have saved your dear life. I know how
gladly you would have me get it now, for you are learning it too; and it
will be your gift, dear, dear papa, your gift just the same."
Jewel had to study the lesson with only Anna Belle's assistance that
morning, but she received the third letter from her mother and father.
Their trip was proving a success from the standpoints of both business
and pleasure, but their chief longing was to get back to their little
It was very like visiting with them to read it over, and Jewel did so
more than once. "I'll show it to cousin Eloise as soon as she comes
home," she reflected. Then she dressed Anna Belle to go out.
Running downstairs the child sought and found Mrs. Forbes in the
kitchen. The housekeeper no longer questioned her going and coming,
although she still considered herself in the light of the child's only
disciplinarian, and was vigilant to watch for errors of omission and
commission, and quick to correct them.
"Mrs. Forbes, may I have an old kitchen knife?"
"Certainly not. You'll cut yourself."
"I want it to dig up plants."
Mrs. Forbes stared down at her. "Why, you mustn't do any such thing."
"I mean wild flowers for a garden that Anna Belle and I are going to
"Oh. I'll see if I can't find you a trowel."
There was one at hand, and as the housekeeper passed it to the child she
"Be careful you don't make a mistake, now, and get hold of anybody's
plants. What did your cousin Eloise go to New York for?"
"I don't know."
"Well I hope it's for her trousseau."
Jewel smiled. "My mother makes those."
"I don't believe she'll ever make one for you, then," returned Mrs.
Forbes, but not ill-naturedly. She laughed, glancing at Sarah, who stood
"But I think she will for Anna Belle," returned Jewel brightly, "when
she gets older."
The housekeeper and maid both laughed. "Run along," said Mrs. Forbes,
"and don't you be late for lunch."
"She's an awful sweet child," said Sarah half reproachfully. "Just the
spirit of sunshine."
"Oh well, they'd turn her head here if it wasn't for me," answered the
Jewel was not late to lunch, but eating it tete-a-tete with aunt Madge
was not to her taste.
Mrs. Evringham utilized the opportunity to admonish her, and Mrs. Forbes
for once sympathized with the widow's sentiments.
Aunt Madge took off her eyeglasses in a way she had when she wished to
be particularly impressive.
"Jewel," she said, "I don't think any one has told you that it is
impolite to Dr. Ballard to say anything about Christian Science in his
"Why is it?" asked the child.
"Because he is a learned physician, and has, of course, a great respect
for his profession."
"I have a great respect for him," returned the child, "and he knows I
wouldn't hurt his feelings."
"The idea!" exclaimed Mrs. Evringham, looking down from a height upon
the flaxen head. "As if a little ignorant girl could hurt the feelings
of a man like Dr. Ballard!"
Mrs. Forbes also stared at the child, and she winced.
"I do love them, and they do love me," she thought. "I don't remember
ever speaking about it before the doctor unless somebody asked me," she
"Your cousin Eloise may ask you," returned Mrs. Evringham. "Nobody else
would. She does it in a spirit of mischief, perhaps, but I shall speak
to her. She has a passing curiosity about your ideas because it is odd
and rather amusing to find a child who has such unnatural and precocious
fancies, and she tries to draw you out; but it will not last with her.
Neither will it with you, probably. You seem to be a sensible little
girl in many ways." Mrs. Evringham made the addition magnanimously. She
really was too much at peace with all the world just now to like to be
Outwardly Jewel was silent. Inwardly she was declaring many things which
would have surprised her companions.
"Does your cousin Eloise pretend to you that she is becoming seriously
interested in your faith?" pursued Mrs. Evringham.
"She will tell you all about it," returned Jewel.
Aunt Madge shrugged her shoulders and laughed a little. Her thoughts
reverted to her daughter's trip to the city. She had wondered
several times if it had any pleasant connection with her sudden good
understanding with Mr. Evringham.
To Jewel's relief her thoughts remained preoccupied during the remainder
of the meal; and as soon as the child could leave, she flew to the
closet under the stairs, where Anna Belle often went into retreat during
the luncheon hour, and from thence back to the garden she was making by
When she returned to the house her eyes lighted as she saw two horses
before the piazza, and Dr. Ballard standing beside one of them.
"How are you, Jewel?" he asked, as she danced up to him smiling.
Stooping, he lifted her into the side saddle, from whence she beamed
"Oh, what fun you're going to have!" she cried.
"I'd like to be sure of that," he answered, his gloved hand on the
"What do you mean?" incredulously. "You don't like that automobile
better, do you? They're so--so stubby. I must have a horse, a horse!"
She smoothed and patted her steed lovingly.
"You ought to have--Jewel of the world," he said kindly. "My bad angel!"
he added, looking up quizzically into her eyes, and smiling at the
widening wonder that grew in them.
"Your--what?" she asked, and then Eloise came out in her habit.
"I'm going instead of you," cried the child gayly, "to pay you for
staying away all day."
"Did you miss me?" asked the girl as she shook hands with her escort.
"I tried not to. Anna Belle and I have something to show you in the
ravine." As she spoke, Jewel slid down into the doctor's arms, and stood
on the steps watching while he put Eloise up and mounted himself.
The child's eyes dwelt upon the pair admiringly as they waved their
hands to her and rode away. Little she knew how their hearts were
beating. Mrs. Evringham, watching from an upper window, suspected it.
She felt that this afternoon would end all suspense.
The child gave a wistful sigh as the horses disappeared, and jumping off
the piazza, she wandered around the house toward the stable. There had
been no rules laid down to her since the night of Essex Maid's attack,
and Zeke was always a congenial companion.
As she neared the barn a young fellow left it, laughing. She knew who
he was,--one of the young men Zeke had known in Boston. He had several
times of late come to call on his old chum, for he was out of work.
As he left the barn he saw the child and slouched off to one side,
avoiding her; but she scarcely noticed him, congratulating herself that
Zeke would be alone and ready, as usual, to crack jokes and stories.
The coachman was not in sight as she entered, but she knew she would
find him in the harness room. Its door stood ajar, and as the
child approached she heard a strange sound, as of some one weeping
suppressedly. Sturdily resisting the sudden fear that swept to her
heart, she pushed open the door.
There stood Mrs. Forbes, leaning against a wooden support, her forehead
resting against her clasped hands in a hopeless posture, as she sobbed
heavily. The air was filled with an odor which had for Jewel sickening
associations. The only terror, the only tragedy, of her short life was
wrapped about with this pungent smell. She seemed again to hear her
mother's sobs, to feel once more that sensation of all things coming to
ruin which descended upon her at the unprecedented sight and sound of
her strong mother's emotion.
All at once she perceived Zeke sitting on a low chair, his arms hanging
across his knees and his head fallen.
The child turned very pale. Her doll slid unnoticed to the floor, as she
pressed her little hands to her eyes.
"Father, Mother, God," she murmured in gasps. "Thou art all power. We
are thy children. Error has no power over us. Help us to waken from this
Running up to the housekeeper, she clasped her arms about her convulsed
form. "Dear Mrs. Forbes," she said, her soft voice trembling at first
but growing firm, "I know this claim, but it can be healed. It seems
very terrible, but it's nothing. We know it, we must know it."
The woman lifted her head and looked down with swollen eyes upon the
child. She saw her go unhesitatingly across to Zeke and kneel beside
"Don't be discouraged, Zeke," she said lovingly. "I know how it seems,
but my father had it and he was healed. You will be healed."
The coachman lifted his rumpled head and stared at her with bloodshot
"Great fuss 'bout nothing," he said sullenly. "Mother always fussing."
Something in his look made the child shudder. Resisting the sudden
repugnance to one who had always shown her kindness, she impulsively
took his big hand in both her little ones. "Zeke, what is error saying
to you?" she demanded. "You can't look at me without love. I love you
because God does. He is lifting us out of this error belief."
The young fellow returned the clasp of the soft hands and winked his
eyes like one who is waking. "Mother makes great fuss," he grumbled.
"Scott was here. We had two or three little friendly drinks. Ma had to
come in and blubber."
"What friendly drinks? What do you mean?" demanded Jewel, looking all
about her. Her eyes fell upon a large black bottle. She dropped the
coachman's hand and picked it up. She smelled of it, her eyes dilated,
and she began to tremble again; and throwing the whiskey from her, she
buried her face for a moment against Zeke's shirt sleeve.
"Is it in a bottle!" she exclaimed at last, in a hushed voice, drawing
back and regarding the coachman with such a white and horrified
countenance that it frightened the clouds from his brain. "Is that
terrible claim in a bottle, and do people drink it out?" she asked
slowly, and in an awestruck tone.
"It's no harm," began Zeke.
"No harm when your mother is crying, when your face is full of error,
and your eyes were hating? No harm when my mother cried, and all our
gladness was gone? Would you go and drink a claim like that out of a
bottle--of your own accord?"
Zeke wriggled under the blue eyes and the unnatural rigidity of the
"No, Jewel, he wouldn't," groaned Mrs. Forbes suddenly. "Zeke's a good
boy, but he's inherited that. His father died of it. It's a disease,
child. I thought my boy would escape, but he hasn't! It's the end!"
cried the wretched woman. "What will Mr. Evringham say! To think how I
blamed Fanshaw! Zeke'll lose his place and go downhill, and I shall die
of shame and despair." Her sobs again shook her from head to foot.
Jewel continued to look at Zeke. A new, eager expression stole over her
face. "Is it the end?" she asked. "Don't you believe in God?"
"I suppose so," answered the coachman sullenly. "I know I'm a man, too.
I can control myself."
"No. Nobody can. Even Jesus said, 'Of myself I can do nothing.' Only God
can help you. If you can drink that nasty smelling stuff, and get all
red and rumply and sorry, then you need God the worst of anybody in
Bel-Air. You look better now. It's just like a dream, the way you lifted
up your face to me when I came in, and it was a dream. I'll help you,
Zeke. I'll show you how to find help." The child suddenly leaned toward
the young fellow, and then retreated. "I can't stand your breath!" she
exclaimed, "and I like to get close to the people I love."
This seemed to touch Zeke. He blushed hotly. "It's a darned shame, kid,"
he returned sheepishly.
"Mrs. Forbes, come here, please," said Jewel. The housekeeper had ceased
crying, and was watching the pair. She saw that her boy's senses were
clearer. She approached obediently, and when the child took her hand her
own closed tightly upon the little fingers.
"Zeke, you're a big strong man and everybody likes you," said Jewel
earnestly. "Isn't it better to stay that way than to drink out of a
bottle, no matter how much you like it?"
"I don't like it so awfully," returned Zeke protestingly. "I like to be
sociable with the boys, that's all."
"What a way to be sociable!" gasped the child. "Well, wouldn't you
rather be nice, so people will like to get close to you?"
"Depends on the folks," returned the boy with a touch of his usual
manner. "You're all right, little kid." He put out his hand, but quickly
Jewel seized it. "Now give your other one to your mother. There now,
we're all together. If your mother thinks you have a disease, Zeke, then
she must know you haven't. If you want me to, I'll come out here every
day at a quiet time and give you a treatment, and we'll talk all about
Christian Science, and we'll know that there's nothing that can make us
sick or unhappy--or unkind! Think of your unkindness to your mother--and
to me if you go on, for I love you, Zeke. Now may I help you?"
The soft frank voice, the earnest little face, moved Zeke to cast a
glance at his mother's swollen eyes. They were bent upon Jewel.
"Do you say your father was cured that way, child?" asked Mrs. Forbes.
"Yes. Oh yes! and he's so happy!"
"Zeke, let's all be thankful if there's anything," said the woman
tremulously, turning to him appealingly.
"I'd just as soon have a visit from you every day, little kid," said the
young fellow. "You're a corker."
"But you must want more than me," returned the child. "God and healing
and purity and goodness! If you're in earnest, what are you going to do
with that?" She touched the black bottle with the toe of her shoe.
Zeke looked at the whiskey, then back into her eyes. They were full of
love and faith for him.
He stooped and picked up the bottle, then striding to a window, he flung
it out toward the forest trees with all the force of his strong arm.
"Damn the stuff!" he said.
Mrs. Forbes felt herself tremble from head to foot. She bit her lip.
Her son turned back. "Getting near train time," he added, not looking at
his companions. "Guess I'll go upstairs."
When he had disappeared his mother stooped slowly and kissed Jewel.
"Forgive me," she said tremulously.
"What for?" asked the child.
The housekeeper still stood in the harness room after Jewel had gone
away. She bowed her head on her folded hands. "Our Father who art in
heaven, forgive me," she prayed. "Forgive me for being a fool. Forgive
me for not recognizing Thine angel whom Thou hast sent. Amen."
Next: Mrs Evringham's Caller
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