Cloudy Jewel (Chapter 1, page 1 of 7)

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Chapter 1

"Well, all I've got to say, then, is, you're a very foolish woman!"

Ellen Robinson buttoned her long cloak forcefully, and arose with a haughty air from the rocking-chair where she had pointed her remarks for the last half-hour by swaying noisily back and forth and touching the toes of her new high-heeled shoes with a click each time to the floor.

Julia Cloud said nothing. She stood at the front window, looking out across the sodden lawn to the road and the gray sky in the distance. She did not turn around to face her arrogant sister.

"What I'd like to know is what you do propose to do, then, if you don't accept our offer and come to live with us? Were you expecting to keep on living in this great barn of a house?" Ellen Robinson's voice was loud and strident with a crude kind of pain. She could not understand her sister, in fact, never had. She had thought her proposition that Julia come to live in her home and earn her board by looking after the four children and being useful about the house was most generous. She had admired the open-handedness of Herbert, her husband, for suggesting it. Some husbands wouldn't have wanted a poor relative about. Of course Julia always had been a hard worker; and it would relieve Ellen, and make it possible for her to go around with her husband more. It would save the wages of a servant, too, for Julia had always been a wonder at economy. It certainly was vexing to have Julia act in this way, calmly putting aside the proposition as if it were nothing and saying she hadn't decided what she was going to do yet, for all the world as if she were a millionaire!

"I don't know, Ellen. I haven't had time to think. There have been so many things to think about since the funeral I haven't got used yet to the idea that mother's really gone." Julia's voice was quiet and controlled, in sharp contrast with Ellen's high-pitched, nervous tones.

"That's it!" snapped Ellen. "When you do, you'll go all to pieces, staying here alone in this great barn. That's why I want you to decide now. I think you ought to lock up and come home with me to-night. I've spent just as much time away from home as I can spare the last three weeks, and I've got to get back to my house. I can't stay with you any more."

"Of course not, Ellen. I quite understand that," said Julia, turning around pleasantly. "I hadn't expected you to stay. It isn't in the least necessary. You know I'm not at all afraid."

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