“Don’t be any foolisher than you can help,” returned Mrs. Forbes, “and hurry.”
On ’Zekiel’s return to the barn he saw that his mother’s face was portentous. “Lawrence was at least handsome like his father,” she began without preamble, looking over Zeke’s shoulder, “but Harry was as homely as he was no account. I should think that man had enough of his sons’ belongings hanging on him already. What do you think, ’Zekiel Forbes? Mr. Evringham’s youngest son Harry has turned up again!”
“I should think it was the old Harry by your tone,” rejoined Zeke equably.
“He and his wife, poor as church mice, are getting their expenses paid to Europe on business, and they have the nerve—yes, the cheek—to ask Mr. Evringham to let them leave their young one, a girl eight years old, with him while they’re gone.”
“I hope it’s a real courageous youngster,” remarked Zeke.
“A child! A wild Western dressmaker’s young one in Mr. Evringham’s elegant house!”
“Is the old Harry a dressmaker?” asked Zeke mildly.
“No, his wife is. His Julia! They’ve named this girl for her, and I suppose they called her Jule, and then twisted it around to Jewel. Jewel!”
“When is she coming?” asked Zeke, seeing that he was expected to say something.
“Coming? She isn’t coming,” cried his mother irefully. “Not while Mr. Evringham has his wits. They haven’t a particle of right to ask him. Harry has worried him to distraction already. The child would be sure to torment him.”
“He’d devour her the second day, then,” returned Zeke calmly. “It would be soon over.”
MOTHER AND DAUGHTER
Dr. Ballard had gone, and his hostesses were awaiting the summons to dinner. Mrs. Evringham regarded her daughter critically as the girl sat at the piano, idly running her fingers over the keys.
The listlessness expressed in the fresh face and rounded figure brought a look of disapproval into the mother’s eyes.
“You must practice that nocturne,” she said. “You played it badly just now, and there is no excuse for it, Eloise.”
“If you will let me give lessons I will,” responded the girl promptly, without turning her graceful, drooping head.
The unexpected reply was startling.
“What are you talking about?” asked Mrs. Evringham.
“Oh, I’m so tired of it all,” replied the girl wearily.
A frown contracted her mother’s forehead. “Tired of what? Turn around here!” She rose and put her hands on the pretty shoulders and turned her child until the clear gray eyes met hers. “Now then, tired of what?”
Eloise smiled slightly, and sighed. “Of playing nocturnes to Dr. Ballard.”
“And he is quite as tired of hearing you, I dare say,” was the retort. “It seems to me you always stumble when you play to the doctor, and he adores Chopin.”