Cloudy Jewel (Chapter 5, page 2 of 8)


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Chapter 5

Ellen Robinson bustled frowning into the hall, whetting her sharp tongue for an encounter. She had seen the big blue car turn in at the gate, and knew from Mrs. Perkins's description who it must be. Julia Cloud had well judged her state of mind, for her four children could not have been caught in a worse plight so far as untidiness was concerned, and there had barely been time to marshal them all up the back stairs with orders to scrub and dress or not to come down till the visitors were gone. They were even now creeping shufflingly about overhead on their bare feet, hunting for their respective best shoes and stockings and other garments, and scrapping in loud whispers.

But Leslie, little diplomat that she was, wasted no time in taking stock of her aunt. She flung her arms joyously around that astonished woman, and fairly took her by storm, talking volubly and continuously until they were all in the house and seated in Ellen's best satin brocatelle parlor chairs, surrounded by crayon portraits of Herbert Robinson's ancestors and descendants. Allison too caught on to his sister's game, and talked a good deal about how nice it was to get East again after all the years, and how glad they were to have some relatives of their own. Julia Cloud sat quietly and proudly listening; and Ellen forgot her anger, and ceased to frown. After all, it was something to have such good-looking relatives. For the first few minutes the well-prepared speech wherewith she had intended to dress down poor Julia lay idle on her lips, and a few sentences of grudging welcome even, managed to slip by. Then suddenly she turned to her sister, and the sight of the adoration for the visitors in Julia's transparent face kindled her anger. Never had such a look as this glowed in Julia Cloud's face for any little Robinson, save perhaps in the first few days of their tiny lives before the Robinson had begun to crop out in them.

"Where were you this morning, Jule? It certainly seems queer for you to be gadding around having a good time so soon after poor mother's death. And the dishes not washed, either! Upon my word, you have lost your head! You weren't brought up that way. I stood up-stairs and looked around on those unmade beds, and thought what poor mother would have said if she could see them. Such goings-on! I certainly was ashamed to have Mrs. Perkins see it."

Two rosy spots bloomed out on Julia Cloud's cheeks, and a tremble came in her lips, though one could see she was making a great effort to control herself; and the two long breaths that Leslie and Allison drew simultaneously were heavily threatening, much like the distant rumble of thunder.

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