“Perhaps my knife will do.” He took it out and opened the largest blade. “What do you think of that?”
“Do you suppose I should break it?” asked the child doubtfully.
“You’re welcome to try,” he replied.
She leaned forward and accepted it from his outstretched hand.
“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.