Cloudy Jewel (Chapter 2, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 2

Leslie and Allison!

Julia Cloud stood gazing out into the west, while the whole sky lightened and sank away into dusk with a burning ruby on its breast. The gloom of her spirit glowed into brightness, and joy flooded her soul.

Leslie and Allison! What round little warm bodies they had, and what delicate, refined faces! They had not seemed like Ellen's blowsy, obstreperous youngsters, practical and grasping to the last extreme after the model of their father. They had starry eyes and hair like tangled sunbeams. Their laughter rippled like brooks in summer, and their hands were like bands that bound the heart. Cookies and stories and long walks and picnics! Those had made up the beautiful days that they spent with her, roaming the woods and meadows, picking dandelions and violets, and playing fairy stories. It had been like a brief return of her old childish days with her boy comrade. She remembered the heartache and the empty days after they had gone back to their Western home, and the little printed childish letters that came for a few months till she was forgotten.

But not really forgotten, after all. For some link of tenderness must still remain that they should think of her now after all these years of separation, and want to visit her. They remembered the cookies! She smiled reminiscently. What a batch of delectable cookies she would make in the morning! Why, to-morrow would be Wednesday! They would be here to-morrow night! And there was a great deal to be done!

She turned from the belated sunset unregretting, and hastened to begin her preparations. There were the two front rooms up-stairs to be prepared. She would open the windows at once, and let the air sweep through all night. They had been shut up a long time, for she had brought the invalid down-stairs to the little sitting-room the last few months to save steps and be always within hearing. The second story had been practically unused except when Ellen or the children were over for a day or two.

She hurried up-stairs, and lit the gas in the two rooms, throwing wide the windows, hunting out fresh sheets and counterpanes. She could dust and run the carpet-sweeper over the rooms right away, and have them in order; and that would save time for to-morrow. Oh, it was good to have something cheerful to do once more. Just supposing she had yielded--as once that afternoon she almost had--to Ellen's persistent urgings, and had gone home with her to-night! Why, the telegram might not have reached her till after the children had come, and found the house empty, and gone again!

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