THE FIRST LESSON
Jewel looked up as she heard a knock. Sarah had made the bed and gone. Who could this be?
At her “Come in,” Eloise entered the room. The child’s face brightened questioningly. She rose and gazed at the enchanted maiden, very lovely in the wrapper of white silk, open at the throat, and with little billows of lace cascading down to the toes of her white Turkish slippers.
“Good-morning, cousin Eloise,” said the child, waiting for the message or order which she supposed to be forthcoming.
“Good-morning.” The girl cast a comprehensive glance around the rather bare room. Her eyes bore no traces of the tears so recently shed, but her face was sad. “I heard you singing,” she said.
“Yes. Did I disturb anybody?” asked the child quickly.
“No. It is nice to be like the birds that sing in the rain.”
“Like the robin out there,” returned Jewel, relieved. “Did you hear him?” She ran to the window and threw it open, listening a minute. “No, he has gone.”
“You said you would show me your doll,” went on Eloise when the window was closed again.
“Oh,” returned Jewel pleased, “did you come to see Anna Belle? She’s right here. We were just going to have the lesson.” She took the doll from the depths of a big chair and held her up with motherly pride. “Would you—won’t you sit down a minute?”
To her great satisfaction, her beautiful visitor condescended to take the chair Anna Belle had vacated, and held out her white, ringless hands for the doll.
“How neatly her clothes are made,” said the girl, examining Anna Belle’s garments.
“Yes, my mother made her all new ones when she knew she was going to Europe, so that she would be neat and not mortify me. Would you like to see her clothes?” eagerly.
“Yes, I should.”
Jewel brought them, her quick little fingers turning them back and forth, exhibiting the tiny buttonholes and buttons, and chattering explanations of their good points.
“It was a great deal for your mother to do all this, when she is such a busy woman,” said Eloise.
“Yes, she did it evenings, and then surprised me just when we were coming away. Wasn’t it lovely?”
“I love prettiness,” said the child. As she spoke she regarded the grave face beside her. “When I first noticed that my nose wasn’t nice, and neither were my eyes, I almost cried.”
Eloise looked up at her, at a loss for a reply.
“But then I remembered that of course God never made anything that wasn’t perfectly beautiful, so I knew that it would come right some time, and I asked mother when she thought it would.”
“What did she say?” returned Eloise, wondering at this original optimism.
“She said we could never tell how soon anything would come right to our sense, but so long as we knew that Creation was perfect and beautiful, we could be patient about everything—big things and little things; and then I remember how she talked to me about being careful never to pity myself.” Jewel gave her head a little serious shake. “You know it’s very bad error to pity yourself, no matter what kind of a nose you have.”