“Oh, tell me, mother, I can’t wait.”
Mrs. Evringham put the little girl down from her lap and going to the trunk took from it the only article it still contained. It was a long, flat book with pasteboard covers tied at the back with little ribbons. As she again took her seat in the big chair, Jewel leaned against its arm.
“It’s a scrap-book full of pictures,” she said, with interest.
For answer her mother turned the cover toward her so she could read the words lettered distinctly upon it.
JEWEL’S STORY BOOK
Then Mrs. Evringham ran her finger along the edges of the volume and let the type-written pages flutter before its owner’s delighted eyes.
“You’ve made me some stories, mother!” cried Jewel. One of the great pleasures and treats of her life had been those rare half hours when her busy mother had time to tell her a story.
Her eyes danced with delight. “Oh, you’re the kindest mother!” she went on, “and you’ll have time to read them to me now! Anna Belle, won’t it be the most fun? Oh, mother, we’ll go to the ravine to read, won’t we?”
Mrs. Evringham’s cheeks flushed and she laughed at the child’s joy. “I hope they won’t disappoint you,” she said.
“But you wrote them out of love. How can they?” returned the little girl quickly.
“That’s so, Jewel; that’s so, dear.”
THE QUEST FLOWER
The garden in the ravine had been put into fine order to exhibit to Jewel’s father and mother. Fresh ferns had been planted around the still pond where Anna Belle’s china dolls went swimming, and fresh moss banks had been constructed for their repose. The brook was beginning to lose the impetuosity of spring and now gurgled more quietly between its verdant banks. It delighted Jewel that the place held as much charm for her mother as for herself, and that she listened with as hushed pleasure to the songs of birds in the treetops too high to be disturbed by the presence of dwellers on the ground. It was an ideal spot wherein to read aloud, and the early hours of that sunshiny afternoon found the three seated there by the brookside ready to begin the Story Book.
“Now I’ll read the titles and you shall choose what one we will take first,” said Mrs. Evringham.
Jewel’s attention was as unwinking as Anna Belle’s, as she listened to the names.
“Anna Belle ought to have first choice because she’s the youngest. Then I’ll have next, and you next. Anna Belle chooses The Quest Flower; because she loves flowers so and she can’t imagine what that means.”
“Very well,” returned Mrs. Evringham, smiling and settling herself more comfortably against a tree trunk. “The little girl in this story loved them too;” and so saying, Jewel’s mother began to read aloud:—