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Mutual Surprises







From: Jewel

"I thought I knew Bel-Air Park," said Bonnell looking about him. "I
never suspected this."

"Jewel is the Columbus of this spot. She has named it the Ravine of
Happiness."

Nat looked at his speaker. "That's rather ambiguous. Does she mean where
happiness is buried or where it is found?"

Eloise smiled. "Jewel never buries any happiness. Well, how is
everybody, Nat? Your mother, first of all."

"Didn't Mrs. Evringham tell you?"

The girl's face clouded with apprehension at his surprised tone.
"No. You will think it very strange, but poor mamma was under such
excitement, you must pardon her. Everything went out of her head. Don't
tell me that dear Mrs. Bonnell"--she lowered her voice--"that you have
lost her!"

He shook his head. "No, I've gained her. She's well."

"Well!" repeated the girl amazed. "Why, what do you mean? How glorious!
How long since?"

"About three months."

"I am so glad! Tell me more good news. Tell me about your own frivoling,
and then I shall hear about the other people."

The young man shook his head. "I observed Lent this year scrupulously,
and I haven't changed my tactics since Easter. I've been keeping my nose
to the grindstone. Began to see things a little differently, Eloise. I
decided it was mother's innings--decided to drop the butterfly and do
the bee act."

"Is it possible!" The girl laughed. "Will wonders never cease! What was
the matter? Did the heiresses cut you?"

"I cut the whole thing, and I have my reward. I suppose your mother
didn't tell you that, either. I'm going into business with Mr. Reeves.
Do you know him? Jewel does." He smiled toward the child, who lifted an
interested face.

"Yes, I do," she said. "You remember about him, cousin Eloise."

"Certainly." The girl looked at her friend questioningly.

"I'm spending this week at his house."

"And you know about Jewel? He has told you?"

"Certainly. The one person of his acquaintance who hasn't to unlearn
anything."

"You mean he talked to you of Christian Science?"

Bonnell's hands were clasping his knees. His hat lay on the bank beside
him and the thick hair tossed away from his brow. He nodded slowly,
wondering at the sudden attentive interest of her look.

"Yes," he replied. "We talked on the tabooed subject."

"Tabooed with whom? You?" she asked disappointedly.

"No, with you I understand."

Color flew into Eloise's face. "Who told you that? Mother of course."

Bonnell nodded, giving a fleeting glance toward the child, who was again
busy at her excavation.

"Are congratulations in order, Eloise?" he asked quietly.

"Yes, congratulations." Her eyes grew full of light. "For I have come to
see the truth. That child has shown me."

The young man's lips remained apart for a second in his surprise at this
declaration, after Mrs. Evringham's detailed representations.

"Then I may tell you how my mother was healed," he said at last.

"Oh, was it really so?"

"Yes."

"And you, Nat?" Unconsciously Eloise leaned her whole body toward him,
supporting her hand on the ground. "You know about it yourself? You
understand?"

"Yes."

"And you believe in it?"

"With all my heart."

Her face shone. "Oh, Jewel, do you hear? Mr. Bonnell is a Scientist."
The girl's breathing was hastened. Her eyes were like stars.

The child sank back from her work and regarded the visitor, smiling. She
was glad, but she was not astonished. In her world a great many young
men had found the key to life, but to Eloise it was something wonderful.
She looked at her old friend as if she had never seen him before. She
reviewed all she knew of his gay life with its background of suffering.

"Do you study the lessons?" she asked incredulously. "You?"

"Every day. I am surprised beyond measure to find you interested, for
your mother told me--And the doctor--?"

"Is a very fine man," returned Eloise gravely, as he paused.

Bonnell's mental questions were answered by her manner. He put his hand
in the pocket of his sack coat and drew out a small, thin, black book.

Eloise took it. "'Unity of Good,'" she read on its cover. "I haven't
seen this one," she said eagerly.

"You will," he replied.

She looked up. "Do you know, I thought just now you were going to take
out your pipe?" she said naively. "That's where you used to keep it."

"My pipe doesn't like me any more," he rejoined quietly.

"Are you happy, Nat?" she asked, scrutinizing his face with childlike,
searching eyes.

"I was never a very solemn codger, was I?" he returned.

"But are you happier? Does the world look different? Of course it does,
with your mother well."

"Oh yes," he answered in a changed tone, tossing his head back, and
making a gesture as of throwing away something. "There was nothing in it
before, nothing in it."

"Yes, yes, I know," she returned comprehendingly.

Jewel had watched them, and now, as they paused, her voice broke the
silence in which the two friends looked into each other's faces.

"Cousin Eloise is going to church with me on Sunday," she announced.

"Oh, certainly." Bonnell smiled. "Wednesday evening meetings and all
now, Eloise. Haven't you attended yet?"

"No, I've only just learned. I've only just seen. I'm only beginning to
see, Nat. Your mother was healed. Oh, it is true, isn't it! It's so
wonderful to find that you, you, know more about it than I do, when I
supposed you would scorn it. I can't help expecting to wake up."

"That is just what you will do," returned Bonnell. "You will waken--to a
thousand things. So your mother objects."

"Poor little mother," returned Eloise, looking down with sudden sadness.

"My mother wants you and yours to make us a long visit at View Point
this summer."

The girl's lovely eyes raised hopefully. "The best thing that could
happen," she exclaimed.

"I think so," responded her companion.

When Mr. Evringham returned from golf that afternoon, only his
daughter-in-law was in sight. She inclined her head toward him with the
air of a Lady Macbeth.

"Have you seen anything of the girls?" she asked as he approached her.

"Nothing. Where are they?"

She slowly shrugged her shoulders. "I'm the last one to ask. They
wouldn't think of telling me," she returned.

"What's up now?" thought Mr. Evringham. "You don't look well, Madge," he
said aloud.

Once she would have welcomed the evidence of solicitude. Now nothing
mattered.

"I don't feel well," she replied, "and I can't even call the physician I
prefer."

Mr. Evringham stared down at her for a silent minute, and light broke
upon him.

"Is it all off with Ballard?" he asked bluntly.

"Yes; and that's what you have done, father, by allowing that child
Jewel to come here."

Mr. Evringham bit his lip. This amused him.

"Eloise has mounted the new hobby, and is riding for dear life away from
common sense, away from everything that promised such happiness."

"Do you mean Christian Science?"

"Of course I do."

"It's a strange thing, Madge. Do you know, it captures people with good
heads." Mr. Evringham seated himself near his daughter's chair. "I
came out on the train with my friend Reeves. He was talking about young
Bonnell, of whom you spoke last night. Said his mother was cured when
the doctors couldn't do anything. You know her, eh?"

"As well as if she were my own flesh and blood."

"Is it a fact, what they say?"

"She was considered incurable. I know nothing about the rest of it.
Nat was telling me yesterday. Now he is probably infatuated also, and,
sooner or later, Eloise is sure to meet him."

"H'm, h'm. An old flame, you said," remarked Mr. Evringham. "Indeed!
In--deed! I trust for your sake, Madge, that his is not objectionable to
you."

"He is," snapped Mrs. Evringham. "A poor fellow, with his way to make
in the world. He's been out of college a couple of years and hasn't done
anything worth speaking of yet."

"Reeves is going to take him into the business," returned Mr. Evringham.
"I don't know why or wherefore, but the mere fact is decidedly
promising."

"Oh, who can tell if that will last!" returned the other with scornful
pessimism. "Nat has let too many cotillions to do anything else well. I
can only pray that he will get away without seeing Eloise. Mrs. Bonnell
has invited us to make her a visit this summer. I certainly shall not go
one step!"

A sudden sound of laughter was heard on the quiet air. Mrs. Evringham
leaned forward. "There are the children now," she said, as
figures turned in at the gateway; "and who is that? It is"--with
desperation,--"he's here! Nat Bonnell is with them!"

She sat upright with disapproval, clasping the arm of her chair, while
her father-in-law looked curiously at the approaching group. His gaze
fixed on the young man with the well-set head who, swinging his hat in
his hand, was talking fast to Eloise of something that amused them both.
Jewel apparently interrupted him and he stooped with a quick motion,
and in a second she was sitting on his shoulder, shrieking in gleeful
surprise.

Thus they approached the piazza and came close before noting that it was
occupied.

"Grandpa, see me!" cried Jewel delightedly.

Bonnell met the unsmiling gaze of his host as Mr. Evringham rose, and
then caught sight of Mrs. Evringham stonily gazing from her chair.

"Ah, how do you do?" he called laughingly.

"Jove, he is a good looking chap!" thought the host, and Bonnell set
Jewel down at his feet with such velocity that Anna Belle was cast
heavily to earth.

"A thousand pardons!" exclaimed Nat, catching up the doll by the skirt
and restoring her.

Jewel gave him a bright look. "She knows there is no sensation in
matter," she said scornfully.

Poor Anna Belle! The topography of the ravine was full of hazards for
her, and her seasons there were always so adventurous and full of sudden
and unlooked-for bumps that her philosophy was well tested, and she
might reasonably have complained of this gratuitous blow; but she smiled
on, as Jewel hugged her. Her mental poise was marvelous, whatever might
be said of the physical.

Eloise introduced her friend and went to her mother's side, while
Bonnell shook hands with Mr. Evringham and exchanged some words
concerning Mr. Reeves and business matters.

"Wide awake," was the older man's mental comment. "Doesn't seem at all
the sort of person to be fooled about that healing business. Good eye.
Good manner. Perhaps this was Ballard's handicap all the time. I guess
you're in for it, Madge."

Nat moved to greet Mrs. Evringham, who gave him no welcoming smile. She
leaned back listlessly, not caring what effect she produced. He seemed
to her a part of the combination entered into by the Fates to thwart and
annoy.

Bonnell knew her nearly as well as Eloise did. "I'm sorry you're under
the weather," he said sympathetically, when he had discovered that, in
his own phrase, there was "nothing doing." "I received a letter from my
mother to-day, in which she impressed upon me that she expected you both
by the middle of June."

"My plans have changed since yesterday, Nat," returned Mrs. Evringham
dismally. "Yes. We shall not be able to go to your mother's, as I had
hoped. Some time during the season I shall try to look in on her of
course. You tell her so, Nat, when you write."

"Nonsense, nonsense, Mrs. Evringham. You don't in the least mean it," he
returned cheerfully, with the smile and manner which she could not and
would not endure.

"I do mean it, Nat. I tell you my plans are changed. Eloise and I may go
to Europe."

Naturally she had never thought of Europe until that moment, but that
laughing, caressing light in Nat Bonnell's eyes was insufferable.

"Ah, in that case, of course," he returned, "we couldn't say a word,"
and then he moved to go.

Mr. Evringham urged the visitor to stay to dinner, but he declined and
once more shook hands.

"Good-by, Jewel," he said to the child. "Sunday, you know."

"Yes indeed, I know," she returned, an irresistible tendency to hop
moving her feet. On nearer acquaintance she had found Mr. Bonnell
exhilarating.

"Good-by, Nat," said Eloise.

He looked into the face on which rested a cloud. "I think you might be a
degree more attentive," he suggested.

"How?"

"Oh--take me to the gate, for instance."

Eloise smiled and went with him. He turned with a slight bow that
included the group, and they strolled down the path.

"It's all up, Madge," remarked Mr. Evringham, half smiling. "No use
wriggling, no use staying away from the mother. Might as well yield
gracefully. I think Ballard might have been told, that's all."

"There was nothing to tell, father! How can you be so unkind? That's
just Nat's manner. He is used to everybody liking him, and always having
his own way; but Eloise never--she never"--the speaker saw that if she
continued, in a moment more she would be weeping, and she certainly was
not going to weep in this company. So she contented herself by
glaring toward the gate, where could be seen two figures in earnest
conversation.

"I had counted so much on Mrs. Bonnell's influence," Eloise was saying.
"What does mother mean? She knows my mind is made up as to Christian
Science. What is she afraid of?"

Bonnell caught his thumbs in his coat pockets and lifted himself
slightly on his toes. "She is afraid of me."

"Of you?" The girl lifted surprised eyes to his and let them fall again,
her grave face coloring.

"She has always been more or less afraid of me. I'm ineligible, you
know."

"Yes, you are, awfully, Nat," returned Eloise earnestly. "That's what
makes you so nice. Didn't we always have a good time together?"

"Yes, on those rare occasions when we had a chance, but Mrs. Evringham
always suspected me. She never felt certain that I wasn't waiting for
your skirts to be lengthened and your hair to go up in order to steal
you."

Eloise tried to look at him, but found it more comfortable to examine
the inexpressive gravel path. "But now you have something to think of
besides girls," she said gently.

"Yes. Do you know, Eloise, if I had been promised the granting of one
wish as I took the cars for Bel-Air, it would have been that I might
find you convinced of the truth of Christian Science."

She looked at him now brightly, gladly. "It is such a help to me to know
that you are in it," she returned. Their hands simultaneously went forth
and clasped. "What shall we do about mother?"

He smiled. "That will all come right," he returned confidently.

"There are classes, Nat," she said. "Have you been through one?"

"Not yet. Perhaps we could enter together."

"Do you think so?" she returned eagerly.

He was looking down at her still--calm, strong.

She started. "I mustn't be late to dinner. Good-by. Sunday, Nat."

"Not to-morrow? I want some golf."

"Yes, go. It's a fine links. I'm sorry, but I'd better not go there for
the present. Good-by."

She was gone, so he strolled on and out through the park, and as he
went he put two and two together, and suspected the cause of the girl's
objection to golf.





Next: On Wednesday Evening

Previous: The Ravine Garden



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