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The Ravine







From: Jewel

Outside the well-kept roads of Bel-Air Park, Nature had been encouraged
to work her sweet will. The drive wound along the edge of a picturesque
gorge, and it was not long before Jewel found the scene of her father's
favorite stories.

The sides of the ravine were studded with tall trees, and in its depths
flowed a brook, unusually full now from the spring rains.

The child lost no time in creeping beneath the slender wire fence at
the roadside, and scrambling down the incline. The brook whispered and
gurgled, wild flowers sprang amid the ferns in the shelter and moisture.
The child was enraptured.

"Oh, Anna Belle!" She exclaimed, hugging the doll for pure joy. "Castle
Discord is far away. There's nobody down here but God!"

For hours she played happily in the enchanting spot, all unconscious
of time. Anna Belle lay on a bed of moss, while Jewel became acquainted
with her wonderful new playmate, the brook. The only body of water with
which she had been familiar hitherto was Lake Michigan. Now she drew
stones out of the bank and made dams and waterfalls. She sailed boats of
chips and watched them shoot the tiny rapids. She lay down on the bank
beside Anna Belle and gazed up through the leafy treetops. Many times
this programme had been varied, when at last equipages began to pass on
the road above. She could see twinkling wheels and smart liveries.

With a start of recollection, she considered that she might have been a
long time in the ravine.

"I wish somebody would let me bring a watch the next time," she said
to her doll, as she took her up. "Haven't we had a beautiful afternoon,
Anna Belle? Let's call it the Ravine of Happiness, and we'll come here
every day--just every day; but perhaps it's time for grandpa to be home,
dearie, so we must go back to the castle." She sighed unconsciously as
she began climbing up the steep bank and crept under the wire. "I hope
we haven't stayed very long, because the giantess might not like it,"
she continued uneasily; but as she set her feet in the homeward road,
every sensation of anxiety fled before an approaching vision. She saw
a handsome man in riding dress mounted on a shining horse with arched
neck, that lifted its feet daintily as it pranced along the tree-lined
avenue.

"Grandpa!" ejaculated Jewel, stepping to the roadside and pausing, her
hands clasped beneath her chin and her eyes shining with admiration.

Mr. Evringham drew rein, not displeased by the encounter. The child
apparently could not speak. She eyed the horse rather than its rider, a
fact which the latter observed and enjoyed.

"Remind you of the horse show?" he inquired.

"It is the horse show," rejoined the child.

"This is Essex Maid, Jewel," said Mr. Evringham. He patted the mare's
shining neck. "You shall go out to the barn with me some time and visit
her." His eyes wandered over the ruffled hair, the hat on the back of
the child's head, and the wet spots on her dress. "Run home now," he
added. "I heard Mrs. Forbes asking for you as I came out."

He rode on, and Jewel, her face radiant, followed him with her eyes. In
a minute he turned, and she threw rapid kisses after him. He raised his
hat, and then a curve in the road hid him from view.

Jewel sighed rapturously and hurried along the road. The giantess had
asked for her. Ah, what a happy world it would be if there were nothing
at Bel-Air Park but grandpa, his horses, and the ravine!

Mrs. Forbes espied the child in the distance, and was at the door when
she came in.

"After this, Julia, you must never go away without telling me
where"--she began, when her eyes recognized the condition of the gingham
frock, and the child's feet. "Look at how you've drabbled your dress!"
she ejaculated.

"It's clean water," returned Julia.

"But your feet! Why, Julia Evringham, they are as wet as sop! Where have
you been?"

"Playing by the brook in the ravine."

Mrs. Forbes groaned. "Nothing will satisfy a child but finding the place
where they can get the dirtiest and make the most trouble. Why didn't
you wear your rubbers, you naughty girl?"

"Why--why--it wasn't raining."

"Raining! Those rubbers are to keep your feet dry. Haven't you got any
sense?"

Jewel looked a little pale. "I didn't know I should get wet in the
brook," she answered.

"Well, go right upstairs now, up the backstairs, and take off every one
of those wet things. Let me feel your petticoat. Yes, that's wet, too.
You undress and get into a hot bath, and then you put on your nightgown
and go right to bed."

"Go to bed!" echoed the child, bewildered.

"Yes, to bed. You won't come down to dinner. Perhaps that will teach you
to wear your rubbers next time and be more careful."

Jewel found the backstairs and ascended them, her little heart hot
within her.

"She's the impolitest woman in the whole world, Anna Belle!" she
whispered. "I'm going to not cry. Mother didn't know what impoliteness
there was at grandpa's or she wouldn't have let us come."

The child's eyes were bright as she found her room and began undressing.
"But you mustn't be angry, dearie," she continued excitedly to her doll.
"It's the worst error to be angry, because it means hating. You treat
me, Anna Belle, and I'll treat you," she went on, unfastening her
clothes with unsteady hands.

With many a pause to work at a refractory elastic or button, and many
interruptions from catches in her breath, she murmured aloud during the
process of her undressing: "Dear Father in Heaven, I seem to feel sorry
all over, and full of error. Help me to know that I'm not a mortal mind
little girl, hating and angry, but I am Thy child, and the only things I
know are good, happy things. Error has no power and Love has all power.
I love Mrs. Forbes, and she loves me. Thou art here even in this
house, and please help me to know that one of Thy children cannot hurt
another." Here Jewel slipped into the new wrapper her mother had made,
and hurried into the white tiled bathroom near by. While she let the
water run into the tub she put her hand into her pocket mechanically, in
search of a handkerchief, and when she felt the crisp touch of paper she
drew it out eagerly. It was covered, and she read the words written in
her mother's distinct hand.

"Love to my Jewel. Is she making a stepping-stone of every trial, and
learning to think less and less about herself, and more and more about
other people? And does she remember that little girls cannot always
understand the error that grown-up people have to meet, especially those
who have not Science to help them? They must be treated very gently, and
I hope my little Jewel will be always kind and patient, and make her new
friends glad she is there."

The child folded the paper and put it carefully back in her pocket.
Then she took her bath, and returning to her room undressed her doll in
silence. Finally, changing her wrapper for her nightdress, she climbed
into bed, where she lay thinking and looking at the sunlight on the
wall.

At dinner time the maid Sarah appeared with a tray. "Here's your dinner,
Miss Julia," she said, looking at the heavy-eyed little girl. "It's too
bad you're not well."

"I am well, thank you," replied Jewel. "I'm sorry you had to carry that
heavy tray up so many stairs."

"Oh, I don't mind that," returned the girl good-naturedly. "I'll set it
right here by the bed."

"Is grandpa down there?" asked Jewel wistfully.

"Yes, Miss Julia. They're all eating their dinner. I hope you'll enjoy
yours."

Sarah went away, and the little girl spread some bread and butter and
ate it slowly.

Meanwhile, when the family had gathered at the dinner table, Mr.
Evringham looked up at his housekeeper.

"Where is Jewel?" he asked shortly. "I object to her being unpunctual."

"Yes, sir. She is having dinner in her room. She was very naughty and
got wet in the brook."

"Ah, indeed!" Mr. Evringham frowned and looked down. He had been a
little disappointed that the bright face was not watching to see him
come home from his ride, but of course discipline must be maintained.
"I'm sorry to hear this," he added.

Mrs. Evringham and Eloise found him a shade less taciturn than usual
to-night. He felt vaguely that he now had an ally of his own flesh and
blood in the house, a spirit sufficiently kindred to prefer his society
to theirs, and this made him unusually lenient.

He meant to go upstairs after dinner, and warn Jewel to be more careful
in future to conform to all Mrs. Forbes's rules; but the meal was
scarcely over when a friend called to get him to attend some business
meeting held that evening in the interests of the town, and he became
interested in his statements and went away with him.

"Wasn't father quite agreeable this evening?" asked Mrs. Evringham of
Eloise. "What did I tell you? I could see that he felt relief because
that plain little creature was not in evidence. Father always was so
fastidious. Of course it is selfish in a way, but it is no use to blame
men for caring for beauty. They will do it."

"It was a shame to make that little girl stay upstairs," returned
Eloise. "I judge she managed to amuse herself this afternoon, and so she
gets punished for it. I should like to go up and sit with her."

"It would not be worth while," returned Mrs. Evringham quickly. "I'm
sure Dr. Ballard will be here soon. You would have to come right down
again."

"That is not the reason I don't go," returned the girl. "It is because
I am not an Evringham, and I have determined not to arrive at friendly
relations with any one of the name. When I once escape from here, they
will have seen the last of me."

"The way of escape lies open," returned her mother soothingly. "I'm glad
you have on that gown. If a man cares for a woman, he always loves to
see her in white."

As soon as dinner was over, Mrs. Forbes ascended the stairs to see
her prisoner. Jewel was lying quietly in bed, the tray, apparently
untouched, beside her. The latter circumstance Mrs. Forbes observed at
once.

"Why haven't you eaten your dinner, Julia?" she asked. "I hope you are
not sulking."

"No'm. I don't believe I am. I don't know what that means."

"You don't know what sulky means?" suspiciously. "It is very naughty for
a little girl to refuse to eat her dinner because she is angry at being
punished for her own good."

"Did you send me to bed because you loved me?" asked Jewel. Her cheeks
were very red, but even the disconcerted housekeeper could see that she
was not excited or angry.

"Everybody loves good little girls," returned Mrs. Forbes. "Now eat your
dinner, Julia, so I can carry down the tray."

"I did eat the bread. It was all I wanted. It was very nice."

The polite addition made the housekeeper uncertain. While she paused
Jewel added, "I wish I could see grandpa."

"He's gone out on business. He won't be back until after you are asleep.
And if you were thinking of complaining to him, Julia, I tell you it
won't do any good. He will trust everything to me."

"Do you think I would trouble grandpa?" returned the child.

The housekeeper looked at her in silent perplexity. The blue eyes were
direct and innocent, but there was a heaviness about them that stirred
Mrs. Forbes uncomfortably.

"You must have got too tired playing this afternoon, Julia," she said
decisively, "or you would be hungry for your dinner. You took that hot
bath I told you to?"

"Yes'm."

"Where have you put your wet things? Oh, I see, you've spread them out
very nicely; but those shoes--I shall have to have them cleaned and
polished for you. Now go to sleep as quick as you can and have a
long night's rest. I'm sure the next time you go out you won't be so
careless."

Jewel's eyes followed the speaker as she bustled about and at last took
up the tray.

"Will you kiss me good-night, Mrs. Forbes?" asked the child.

The surprised housekeeper set down her burden, stooped over the bed and
kissed her.

"There now, I see you're sorry," she said, somewhat touched.

Jewel gave her a little smile. "No'm, I've stopped being sorry," she
replied.

"She'd puzzle a Philadelphia lawyer," soliloquized the housekeeper
as she descended the stairs with the tray. "I suppose her mother is
uneducated and uses queer English. As the old ones croak, the young ones
learn. The child uses words nobody ever heard of, and is ignorant of the
commonest ones. I'm glad she's so fond of me if I've got to take care of
her."





Next: Dr Ballard

Previous: A Shopping Expedition



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