Author: Clara Louise Burnham

Chapter XXIII Mrs. Evringham’s Caller

Mrs. Evringham was busily chewing the cud of sweet fancies only, that afternoon. Following the equestrians in their leafy woodland path, she pictured them as talking of their future, and herself built many castles in the air. "Ah," she thought sentimentally, leaning back in her reclining chair, "how charming is youth—with plenty of money!"

She was roused from these luxurious meditations by the appearance of Sarah, bearing a card on a salver.

"A man!" she exclaimed with annoyance. "I’m not dressed."

Lifting the card, she read it with a start.

"Mr. Nathan Wycliffe Bonnell."

"Tell him I’ll be down soon," was all she said; but her thoughts ran swiftly as she hurriedly slipped into her gown. "How in the world comes the boy out here? Just as well that Eloise is away. It would only be painful to her, all the old associations." But old associations cropped up more and more enticingly for Mrs. Evringham as she made her swift toilet, and by the time she reached the drawingroom her eagerness lent her cordiality a very genuine tone.

"Nat, dear boy, how are you?"

The young man who rose eagerly to meet her would have been noticeable in any crowd. She gazed up into his smooth-shaven, frank face, with its alert eyes and strong chin, and felt a yearning affection for all which he represented to her. "What are you doing out here?"

"Visiting you and Eloise," he answered, with the hearty relish which always characterized his manner when circumstances were agreeable. "Where is she?"

"Riding. I don’t know when they will come home, either. It’s such a charming day, isn’t it? So good of you to hunt us up, Nat. We’ve been out of the world so long. I can’t tell you what a rush of memories comes over me at sight of you, you nice, big boy. I do believe you’ve been growing." She gave a glance of approval at the young man’s stalwart proportions.

"Oh, don’t humiliate me," he laughed, as she drew him to a divan, where they seated themselves.

"How could you get away at this hour?"

"I’m changing my business, and get a week’s vacation thereby. Great luck, isn’t it?"

"I hope so. Are you going to do better?"

"Much better. It’s only a little matter of time now, Mrs. Evringham— automobiles, steam yachts, and all the rest of it."

"Ah, the optimism of youth!" she sighed, gazing at the dancing lights in his eyes. "It’s very beautiful, and usually entirely unfounded. You look so radiant, my dear. Perhaps you have come out here to let us congratulate you. Have you found that desirable girl? I certainly should be the first to be told, for I always talked to you very plainly, didn’t I?"

"Indeed you did, Mrs. Evringham. You always kept my ineligibility before me strenuously."

"A certain /sort/ of ineligibility, dear boy," returned the lady with a flattering cadence. "Your capital did not happen to consist of money. Tell me all, Nat. Who is she?"

He shook his head. "She’s still not impossible, but improbable," he returned.

"Oh, you are too difficult, my dear. Really, I thought at the time our misfortunes fell upon us that it was going to be Miss Caton. She would have been a great assistance to you, Nat. It isn’t as if you could even afford to be a bachelor. In these days so much is expected of them. How is your mother?" Mrs. Evringham made the addition in that tone of fixed sympathy which one employs when only a depressing answer can be expected.

"Very well, thank you."

"You mean as well as usual, I suppose."

"No, I mean well. Wonderful, isn’t it?"

"Really, Nat?" Mrs. Evringham straightened up in her interest. "Who did it?"

"She was healed by Christian Science."

"You don’t mean it!"

"Indeed I do."

Mrs. Evringham thanked her holy stars that Eloise was absent.

"Well! I never for one moment classed your mother as a /malade imaginaire/!" exclaimed the lady.

Her companion raised his eyebrows. "I fancy no one did who knew her."

"You believe it, then?"

"I should be an idiot if I didn’t."

"Do you mean to say she is out of her wheeled chair?"

"No chairs for her now. When she wishes to walk she walks."

"Then she always could!" declared Mrs. Evringham.

"I think you know better than that," returned the other calmly.

"How long since?" asked Mrs. Evringham.

"Three months."


"Aren’t you glad for her?" asked Bonnell with a slight smile of curiosity into the disturbed face. "I ought to have told you at first that osteopathy did it; then after your joy had subsided, break the truth gently."

"Of course I’m glad," returned the other stiffly, "but I’d rather Eloise did not hear of it at once."

"May I know why?"

"Certainly. We have a very dear friend who is a physician. It looks very much as if he might be something nearer than a friend. It is he with whom Eloise is riding this afternoon. It is very distasteful, naturally, to have these alleged cures discussed in our family. We have had some annoyance in that line already. You can understand how doctors must feel."

"Yes, so long as they believe a cure to be only alleged; but where one is convinced that previously hopeless conditions have been healed, and it does happen once in a while, they are glad of it, I’m confident. We haven’t a finer, broader minded class of men in our country than our physicians."

"I think so," agreed Mrs. Evringham, drawing herself up with a fleeting vision of the Ballard place on Mountain Avenue.

"But they are not the wealthiest at the start," said Nat. "Is it possible that you are allowing Eloise to ride unchaperoned with a young physician?"

Mrs. Evringham did not remark the threatening curves at the corners of the speaker’s lips.

"Oh, this one is different," she returned seriously; "very fine connections, and substantial in /every/ way."

Her companion threw back his head and laughed frankly.

"We have to smile at each other once in a while, don’t we, Mrs. Evringham?" he said, in the light, caressing manner which had for a few years been one of her chief worries; "but all the same, you’re fond of me just as long as I don’t forget my place, eh? You’re glad to see me?"

"You know I am." Mrs. Evringham pressed her hand against the laces over her heart. "Such a bittersweet feeling comes over me at the very tones of your voice. Oh, the happy past, Nat! Gone forever!" She touched a dainty handkerchief to her eyes. "I suppose your mother is still in her apartment?"

"She has taken a place at View Point for the summer, and has set her heart on a long visit from you."

"How very kind of her," responded Mrs. Evringham with genuine gratitude. "I don’t know what father means to do in the hot weather or whether he—or whether I should wish to go with him. Your mother and I always enjoyed each other, when she was sufficiently free from suffering."

"That time is always now," returned Nat, a fullness of gratitude in his voice.

His companion looked at him curiously. "I can’t realize it."

"Come and see," was his reply.

"I will, I certainly will. I shall anticipate it with great pleasure."

A very convenient place to prepare a part of Eloise’s trousseau, Mrs. Evringham was considering, and the girl safely engaged, Nat’s presence would have no terrors. "You think you are really getting into a good business arrangement now?" she asked aloud.

"Very. I wake up in the morning wondering at my own good fortune."

"I am so glad, my dear boy," responded the other sympathetically. "Perhaps, after all, you will be able to wait for a little more chin than Miss Caton has. Of course she’s a very /nice/ girl and all that."

Bonnell smiled at the carpet.

They talked on for half an hour of mutual friends over cups of tea, and then he rose to go.

"Eloise will be sorry!" said Mrs. Evringham effusively. "It’s such a long way out here and so difficult for you to get the time. It isn’t as if you could come easily."

"Oh, I have several days here. I’m staying at the Reeves’s. Do you know them?"

"No," returned the lady, trying to conceal that this was a blow.

"It is Mr. Reeves with whom I am going into business, and we are doing some preliminary work. I shall see Eloise soon. Remember me to her."

"Yes, certainly," replied Mrs. Evringham. She kept a stiff upper lip until she was alone, and then a troubled line grew in her forehead.

"It will be all right, of course, if things are settled," she thought. "I can scarcely wait for Eloise to come home."

Jewel had come from the barn straight to her room, where she thought upon her problem with the aids she loved.

At last she went downstairs to a side door to watch for Zeke as he drove from the barn on his way to the station to meet Mr. Evringham. As the horse walked out of the barn she emerged and intercepted the coachman.

Mrs. Forbes at a window saw Zeke stop. She wondered what Jewel was saying to him, wondered with a humble gratitude novel to her dominating nature.

"Wait one minute, Zeke," said the child. "I’ve been wondering whether I ought to say anything to grandpa."

"If you do I’ll lose my place," returned the young fellow; "and I’ve never done wrong by the horses yet."

"I know you haven’t. God has taken care of you, hasn’t he, Zeke? Do you think it’s right for me not to tell grandpa? I’ve decided that I’ll do whatever you say."

It was the wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove. Zeke, nervously fingering the whip handle, looked down into the guileless face and mentally vowed never to betray the trust he saw there.

"Then don’t tell him, Jewel," he returned rather thickly, for the fullness in his throat. "You come out to the barn the way you said you would, and we’ll talk over things. I don’t care if the boys do laugh. I’ve sworn off. I believe you helped Essex Maid the other night. I believe you can help me."

Jewel’s eyes were joyful. "If you know you /want/ help, Zeke, then you’ll get it. Mother says that’s the first thing. Mortal mind is so proud."

"Mine ain’t strutting much," returned Zeke as he drove on.

Jewel amused herself about the grounds until the phaeton should return with her grandfather.

When she saw it coming she ran down to the gate and hopped and skipped back beside it, Mr. Evringham watching her gyrations unsmilingly.

As he dismounted at the piazza she clung to his hand going up the steps. "Which are you going to do, grandpa, go riding or play golf?"

"Which do you want me to do?" he asked.

"When you ride it’s more fun for me," she replied.

He seated himself in one of the chairs and she leaned against its broad arm.

"It’s rather more fun for me, too. I’m growing lazy. I think I’ll ride."


"What have you been doing to-day, Jewel?"

"Well,"—meditatively,—"cousin Eloise went to New York, so I had to get my lesson alone. And I didn’t braid my hair over."

Mr. Evringham looked startled. "She’ll do it, I dare say, before dinner," he replied.

"If she has time. She has gone riding with Dr. Ballard. They just trotted away together. Oh, it was lovely!"

Mr. Evringham, leaning his head back, looked off under his heavy brows as he responded:—

"Across the hills and far away,
Beyond their utmost purple rim,
And deep into the dying day
The happy princess followed him,

"and all that sort of business, I suppose."

"I don’t know what you mean," said Jewel doubtfully.

"I should hope not. Well, what else have you done? Been treating any rheumatism? I haven’t had it since the sun shone."

"You never asked me to," returned the child.

Mr. Evringham smiled. "The sunshine is a pretty good treatment," he observed.

"Sometimes your belief comes into my thought," said Jewel, "and of course I always turn on it and think the truth."

"Much obliged, I’m sure. I’d like to turn on it myself at times."

"You can study with cousin Eloise and me, if you’d like to," said Jewel eagerly.

"Oh, thank you, thank you," rejoined the broker hastily. "Don’t disturb yourself. There must be some sinners, you know, or the saints would have to go out of business—nobody to practice on. Well, have you been to the ravine?"

"Oh yes! Anna Belle and I, and we had more /fun/! We made a garden."

"Morning or afternoon?"


"Well I wish to know," said Mr. Evringham in a suddenly serious and impressive tone, "I wish to know if you reached home in time for lunch."

Jewel felt somewhat startled under the daze of his piercing eyes, but her conscience was clear. "Yes, I was here in plenty of time. I wanted to surely not be late, so I was here too soon."

"That’s what I was afraid of," returned Mr. Evringham gravely. "I don’t wish you to be unpunctual, but I object equally to your returning unnecessarily early when you wish to stay."

"But I couldn’t help it, grandpa," Jewel began earnestly, when he interrupted her.

"So I’ve brought you this," he added, and took from his pocket an oblong package, sealed at each end.

The child laid her doll in the broker’s lap,—he had become hardened to this indignity,—and her fingers broke the seals and slipped the paper from a morocco case.

"Push the spring in the end," said Mr. Evringham.

She obeyed. The lid flew up and disclosed a small silver chatelaine watch. The pin was a cherub’s head, its wings enameled in white, as were the back and edges of the little timepiece whose hands were busily pointing to blue figures.

Jewel gasped. "For me?"

Her grandfather smoothed his mustache. He had presented gifts to ladies before, but never with such effect.

"Grandpa, grandpa!" she exclaimed, touching the little watch in wondering delight. "See what Divine Love has sent me!"

Mr. Evringham raised his eyebrows and smiled, but he was soon assured that Love’s messenger was not forgotten. He was instantly enveloped in a rapturous hug, and heroically endured the bitter of the watchcase pressing into his jugular for the sweet of the rose-leaf kisses that were assaulting his cheek like the quick reports of a tiny Gatling gun.

"See if you can wind it," he said at last.

Jewel lifted her treasure tenderly from its velvet bed, and he showed her how to twist its stem, and then pinned it securely on the breast of her light sailor suit, where she looked down upon it in rapt admiration.

"Now then, Jewel, you have no excuse!" he said severely.

She raised her happy eyes, while her hand pressed the satin surface of her watch. "Grandpa, grandpa!" she said, sighing ecstatically, "you’re such a joker!"


Related Resources

Children's Literature

Download Options

Title: Jewel

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: Jewel

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Clara Louise Burnham, "Chapter XXIII Mrs. Evringham’s Caller," Jewel in Jewel (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1903), Original Sources, accessed March 21, 2019,

MLA: Burnham, Clara Louise. "Chapter XXIII Mrs. Evringham’s Caller." Jewel, in Jewel, New York, Grosset & Dunlap, 1903, Original Sources. 21 Mar. 2019.

Harvard: Burnham, CL, 'Chapter XXIII Mrs. Evringham’s Caller' in Jewel. cited in 1903, Jewel, Grosset & Dunlap, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 21 March 2019, from