Jewel’s admiration went out to her on the instant and she started up.
The lady swept toward her, and bending, a delicate perfume wafted about Jewel as she felt a light touch of lips on her cheek.
“So this is Julia Evringham,” said the newcomer.
“And you are aunt Madge,” returned the child gladly, clinging to the gloved hand, which endured for a moment, and then firmly disengaged itself.
“Your father and mother got off all right I hope?” went on the airy voice. “I’m always afraid of winds at this season myself, but they may not have them. Your cousin Eloise and I are hurrying away to a luncheon, but we shall see you at dinner. You’re very comfortable here? That’s right. Good-bye.”
She swept away, and the light again faded from Jewel’s face as she went slowly back to her seat.
“Aunt Madge is afraid, too,” she said to the doll. “We know there won’t be winds, don’t we, dearie? God will take care of father and mother.”
An uncomfortable lump rose towards the child’s throat.
Mrs. Evringham followed Eloise into the brougham, smiling.
“It couldn’t be better,” she announced with much satisfaction as they drove away.
“She is plain—oh, plain as possible. Small eyes, large mouth, insignificant nose. She will never get on with father. He never could endure ugliness in a girl or woman. I have heard him say it was unpardonable. If it hadn’t been that we were what we are, Eloise, I should never have dreamed of doing as I have done. Now if only some good fairy would open your eyes to see which side your bread is buttered on! You could do marvels with such a foil for contrast.”
THE FIRST EVENING
In the excitement of the early morning start, Jewel had eaten little breakfast, but the soft resonance of the Japanese gong, when it sounded in the hall below, found her unready for food.
However, she judged the mellow sound to be her summons and obediently left her seat by the window. As she went down she looked askance at the tall dark clock which, even as she passed, chimed the half hour melodiously. Certainly her important grandfather lived in a wonderful house. She paused to hear the last notes of the bells, but catching sight of the figure of Mrs. Forbes waiting below, she started and moved on.
“That’s right. Come along,” said the housekeeper. “Mr. Evringham likes everybody to be punctual in his house.”
“Oh, has grandpa come home?” inquired Jewel eagerly.
“No, he won’t be home for hours yet. Come this way.”
The little girl followed to the dining-room, which she thought quite as wonderful as the clock; but her admiration of all she saw was no longer unmixed. Mrs. Forbes seemed to cast a shadow.
One place was laid at the table, one handsome chair was drawn up to it. Jewel longed to call Anna Belle’s attention to the glittering array on the sideboard and behind the crystal doors of cabinets, but something withheld her.