Mrs Evringham's Caller
Mrs. Evringham was busily chewing the cud of sweet fancies only, that
afternoon. Following the equestrians in their leafy woodland path, she
pictured them as talking of their future, and herself built many
castles in the air. "Ah," she thought sentimentally, leaning back in her
reclining chair, "how charming is youth--with plenty of money!"
She was roused from these luxurious meditations by the appearance of
Sarah, bearing a card on a salver.
"A man!" she exclaimed with annoyance. "I'm not dressed."
Lifting the card, she read it with a start.
"Mr. Nathan Wycliffe Bonnell."
"Tell him I'll be down soon," was all she said; but her thoughts ran
swiftly as she hurriedly slipped into her gown. "How in the world comes
the boy out here? Just as well that Eloise is away. It would only be
painful to her, all the old associations." But old associations cropped
up more and more enticingly for Mrs. Evringham as she made her swift
toilet, and by the time she reached the drawing-room her eagerness lent
her cordiality a very genuine tone.
"Nat, dear boy, how are you?"
The young man who rose eagerly to meet her would have been noticeable
in any crowd. She gazed up into his smooth-shaven, frank face, with its
alert eyes and strong chin, and felt a yearning affection for all which
he represented to her. "What are you doing out here?"
"Visiting you and Eloise," he answered, with the hearty relish which
always characterized his manner when circumstances were agreeable.
"Where is she?"
"Riding. I don't know when they will come home, either. It's such a
charming day, isn't it? So good of you to hunt us up, Nat. We've been
out of the world so long. I can't tell you what a rush of memories comes
over me at sight of you, you nice, big boy. I do believe you've been
growing." She gave a glance of approval at the young man's stalwart
"Oh, don't humiliate me," he laughed, as she drew him to a divan, where
they seated themselves.
"How could you get away at this hour?"
"I'm changing my business, and get a week's vacation thereby. Great
luck, isn't it?"
"I hope so. Are you going to do better?"
"Much better. It's only a little matter of time now, Mrs.
Evringham--automobiles, steam yachts, and all the rest of it."
"Ah, the optimism of youth!" she sighed, gazing at the dancing lights in
his eyes. "It's very beautiful, and usually entirely unfounded. You
look so radiant, my dear. Perhaps you have come out here to let us
congratulate you. Have you found that desirable girl? I certainly should
be the first to be told, for I always talked to you very plainly, didn't
"Indeed you did, Mrs. Evringham. You always kept my ineligibility before
"A certain sort of ineligibility, dear boy," returned the lady with
a flattering cadence. "Your capital did not happen to consist of money.
Tell me all, Nat. Who is she?"
He shook his head. "She's still not impossible, but improbable," he
"Oh, you are too difficult, my dear. Really, I thought at the time our
misfortunes fell upon us that it was going to be Miss Caton. She would
have been a great assistance to you, Nat. It isn't as if you could even
afford to be a bachelor. In these days so much is expected of them. How
is your mother?" Mrs. Evringham made the addition in that tone of
fixed sympathy which one employs when only a depressing answer can be
"Very well, thank you."
"You mean as well as usual, I suppose."
"No, I mean well. Wonderful, isn't it?"
"Really, Nat?" Mrs. Evringham straightened up in her interest. "Who did
"She was healed by Christian Science."
"You don't mean it!"
"Indeed I do."
Mrs. Evringham thanked her holy stars that Eloise was absent.
"Well! I never for one moment classed your mother as a malade
imaginaire!" exclaimed the lady.
Her companion raised his eyebrows. "I fancy no one did who knew her."
"You believe it, then?"
"I should be an idiot if I didn't."
"Do you mean to say she is out of her wheeled chair?"
"No chairs for her now. When she wishes to walk she walks."
"Then she always could!" declared Mrs. Evringham.
"I think you know better than that," returned the other calmly.
"How long since?" asked Mrs. Evringham.
"Aren't you glad for her?" asked Bonnell with a slight smile of
curiosity into the disturbed face. "I ought to have told you at first
that osteopathy did it; then after your joy had subsided, break the
"Of course I'm glad," returned the other stiffly, "but I'd rather Eloise
did not hear of it at once."
"May I know why?"
"Certainly. We have a very dear friend who is a physician. It looks very
much as if he might be something nearer than a friend. It is he with
whom Eloise is riding this afternoon. It is very distasteful, naturally,
to have these alleged cures discussed in our family. We have had some
annoyance in that line already. You can understand how doctors must
"Yes, so long as they believe a cure to be only alleged; but where one
is convinced that previously hopeless conditions have been healed, and
it does happen once in a while, they are glad of it, I'm confident. We
haven't a finer, broader minded class of men in our country than our
"I think so," agreed Mrs. Evringham, drawing herself up with a fleeting
vision of the Ballard place on Mountain Avenue.
"But they are not the wealthiest at the start," said Nat. "Is it
possible that you are allowing Eloise to ride unchaperoned with a young
Mrs. Evringham did not remark the threatening curves at the corners of
the speaker's lips.
"Oh, this one is different," she returned seriously; "very fine
connections, and substantial in every way."
Her companion threw back his head and laughed frankly.
"We have to smile at each other once in a while, don't we, Mrs.
Evringham?" he said, in the light, caressing manner which had for a few
years been one of her chief worries; "but all the same, you're fond of
me just as long as I don't forget my place, eh? You're glad to see me?"
"You know I am." Mrs. Evringham pressed her hand against the laces over
her heart. "Such a bittersweet feeling comes over me at the very tones
of your voice. Oh, the happy past, Nat! Gone forever!" She touched a
dainty handkerchief to her eyes. "I suppose your mother is still in her
"She has taken a place at View Point for the summer, and has set her
heart on a long visit from you."
"How very kind of her," responded Mrs. Evringham with genuine gratitude.
"I don't know what father means to do in the hot weather or whether
he--or whether I should wish to go with him. Your mother and I always
enjoyed each other, when she was sufficiently free from suffering."
"That time is always now," returned Nat, a fullness of gratitude in his
His companion looked at him curiously. "I can't realize it."
"Come and see," was his reply.
"I will, I certainly will. I shall anticipate it with great pleasure."
A very convenient place to prepare a part of Eloise's trousseau, Mrs.
Evringham was considering, and the girl safely engaged, Nat's presence
would have no terrors. "You think you are really getting into a good
business arrangement now?" she asked aloud.
"Very. I wake up in the morning wondering at my own good fortune."
"I am so glad, my dear boy," responded the other sympathetically.
"Perhaps, after all, you will be able to wait for a little more chin
than Miss Caton has. Of course she's a very nice girl and all that."
Bonnell smiled at the carpet.
They talked on for half an hour of mutual friends over cups of tea, and
then he rose to go.
"Eloise will be sorry!" said Mrs. Evringham effusively. "It's such a
long way out here and so difficult for you to get the time. It isn't as
if you could come easily."
"Oh, I have several days here. I'm staying at the Reeves's. Do you know
"No," returned the lady, trying to conceal that this was a blow.
"It is Mr. Reeves with whom I am going into business, and we are doing
some preliminary work. I shall see Eloise soon. Remember me to her."
"Yes, certainly," replied Mrs. Evringham. She kept a stiff upper lip
until she was alone, and then a troubled line grew in her forehead.
"It will be all right, of course, if things are settled," she thought.
"I can scarcely wait for Eloise to come home."
Jewel had come from the barn straight to her room, where she thought
upon her problem with the aids she loved.
At last she went downstairs to a side door to watch for Zeke as he drove
from the barn on his way to the station to meet Mr. Evringham. As the
horse walked out of the barn she emerged and intercepted the coachman.
Mrs. Forbes at a window saw Zeke stop. She wondered what Jewel was
saying to him, wondered with a humble gratitude novel to her dominating
"Wait one minute, Zeke," said the child. "I've been wondering whether I
ought to say anything to grandpa."
"If you do I'll lose my place," returned the young fellow; "and I've
never done wrong by the horses yet."
"I know you haven't. God has taken care of you, hasn't he, Zeke? Do you
think it's right for me not to tell grandpa? I've decided that I'll do
whatever you say."
It was the wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove. Zeke,
nervously fingering the whip handle, looked down into the guileless face
and mentally vowed never to betray the trust he saw there.
"Then don't tell him, Jewel," he returned rather thickly, for the
fullness in his throat. "You come out to the barn the way you said you
would, and we'll talk over things. I don't care if the boys do laugh.
I've sworn off. I believe you helped Essex Maid the other night. I
believe you can help me."
Jewel's eyes were joyful. "If you know you want help, Zeke, then
you'll get it. Mother says that's the first thing. Mortal mind is so
"Mine ain't strutting much," returned Zeke as he drove on.
Jewel amused herself about the grounds until the phaeton should return
with her grandfather.
When she saw it coming she ran down to the gate and hopped and skipped
back beside it, Mr. Evringham watching her gyrations unsmilingly.
As he dismounted at the piazza she clung to his hand going up the steps.
"Which are you going to do, grandpa, go riding or play golf?"
"Which do you want me to do?" he asked.
"When you ride it's more fun for me," she replied.
He seated himself in one of the chairs and she leaned against its broad
"It's rather more fun for me, too. I'm growing lazy. I think I'll ride."
"What have you been doing to-day, Jewel?"
"Well,"--meditatively,--"cousin Eloise went to New York, so I had to get
my lesson alone. And I didn't braid my hair over."
Mr. Evringham looked startled. "She'll do it, I dare say, before
dinner," he replied.
"If she has time. She has gone riding with Dr. Ballard. They just
trotted away together. Oh, it was lovely!"
Mr. Evringham, leaning his head back, looked off under his heavy brows
as he responded:--
"Across the hills and far away,
Beyond their utmost purple rim,
And deep into the dying day
The happy princess followed him,
"and all that sort of business, I suppose."
"I don't know what you mean," said Jewel doubtfully.
"I should hope not. Well, what else have you done? Been treating any
rheumatism? I haven't had it since the sun shone."
"You never asked me to," returned the child.
Mr. Evringham smiled. "The sunshine is a pretty good treatment," he
"Sometimes your belief comes into my thought," said Jewel, "and of
course I always turn on it and think the truth."
"Much obliged, I'm sure. I'd like to turn on it myself at times."
"You can study with cousin Eloise and me, if you'd like to," said Jewel
"Oh, thank you, thank you," rejoined the broker hastily. "Don't disturb
yourself. There must be some sinners, you know, or the saints would have
to go out of business--nobody to practice on. Well, have you been to the
"Oh yes! Anna Belle and I, and we had more fun! We made a garden."
"Morning or afternoon?"
"Well I wish to know," said Mr. Evringham in a suddenly serious and
impressive tone, "I wish to know if you reached home in time for lunch."
Jewel felt somewhat startled under the daze of his piercing eyes, but
her conscience was clear. "Yes, I was here in plenty of time. I wanted
to surely not be late, so I was here too soon."
"That's what I was afraid of," returned Mr. Evringham gravely. "I
don't wish you to be unpunctual, but I object equally to your returning
unnecessarily early when you wish to stay."
"But I couldn't help it, grandpa," Jewel began earnestly, when he
"So I've brought you this," he added, and took from his pocket an oblong
package, sealed at each end.
The child laid her doll in the broker's lap,--he had become hardened to
this indignity,--and her fingers broke the seals and slipped the paper
from a morocco case.
"Push the spring in the end," said Mr. Evringham.
She obeyed. The lid flew up and disclosed a small silver chatelaine
watch. The pin was a cherub's head, its wings enameled in white, as
were the back and edges of the little timepiece whose hands were busily
pointing to blue figures.
Jewel gasped. "For me?"
Her grandfather smoothed his mustache. He had presented gifts to ladies
before, but never with such effect.
"Grandpa, grandpa!" she exclaimed, touching the little watch in
wondering delight. "See what Divine Love has sent me!"
Mr. Evringham raised his eyebrows and smiled, but he was soon assured
that Love's messenger was not forgotten. He was instantly enveloped in
a rapturous hug, and heroically endured the bitter of the watchcase
pressing into his jugular for the sweet of the rose-leaf kisses that
were assaulting his cheek like the quick reports of a tiny Gatling gun.
"See if you can wind it," he said at last.
Jewel lifted her treasure tenderly from its velvet bed, and he showed
her how to twist its stem, and then pinned it securely on the breast of
her light sailor suit, where she looked down upon it in rapt admiration.
"Now then, Jewel, you have no excuse!" he said severely.
She raised her happy eyes, while her hand pressed the satin surface of
her watch. "Grandpa, grandpa!" she said, sighing ecstatically, "you're
such a joker!"
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