“And if her hair frightens the birds it’s your fault,” smiled Julia, smoothing with both hands the little flaxen head.
“The birds have seen me look a great deal worse than this, a great deal worse,” said Jewel cheerfully.
“Perhaps they’ll think her hair is a nest and sit down in it,” suggested her father, as they moved away, the happy child between them, holding a hand of each.
The little girl drew in her chin as she looked up at him.
“Oh, father, you’re such a joker!”
THE DIE IS CAST
“Oh, grandpa, we’ve had the most, fun!” cried Jewel that afternoon as she ran down the veranda steps to meet the broker, getting out of the brougham.
Harry and Julia were standing near the wicker chairs watching the welcome. They saw Mr. Evringham stoop to receive the child’s embrace, and noted the attention he paid to her chatter as, after lifting his hat to them, he slowly advanced.
“Father and I played in the ravine the longest while. Wasn’t it a nice time, father?”
“It certainly was a nice, wet time. I am one pair of shoes short, and shall have to travel to Chicago in patent leathers.”
As Julia rose she regarded her father-in-law with new eyes. All sense of responsibility had vanished, and her present passive role seemed delightful.
“I know more about this beautiful place than when you went away,” she said. “I feel as if I were at some picturesque resort. It doesn’t seem at all as if work-a-day people might live here all the time.”
“I’m glad you like it,” returned the broker, and his quick, curt manner of speech no longer startled her. “Have you been driving?”
“No, we preferred to have Jewel plan our campaign, and she seemed to think that the driving part had better wait for you.”
The broker turned and looked down at the smooth head with billowy ribbon bows behind the ears. Noting his expression, or lack of it, Julia wondered, momentarily, if she might have dreamed the episode of kissing into the telephone.
“What is your plan, Jewel?” he asked.
She balanced herself springily on her toes. “I thought two of us in the phaeton and two on horseback,” she replied, with relish.
“H’m. You in the phaeton and I on Star, perhaps.”
“Oh, grandpa, and your feet dragging in the road!” The child’s laugh was a gush of merriment.
The broker looked back at his daughter-in-law and handed her the large white package he was carrying. “With my compliments, madam.”
Julia flushed prettily as she unwrapped the box. “Oh, Huyler’s!” she exclaimed. “How delicious. Thank you so much, father.”
Jewel’s eyes were big with admiration. “That’s just the kind Dr. Ballard used to give cousin Eloise,” she said, sighing. “Sometime I’ll be grown up!”