Cloudy Jewel (Chapter 3, page 1 of 7)

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Chapter 3

"You haven't asked us what we came for," opened up Allison as soon as everybody was served with chicken, mashed potato, succotash, stewed tomatoes, biscuits, pickles, and apple-sauce.

"I thought you came for cookies," said Julia Cloud, with a mischievous twinkle in her gray eyes.

"Hung one on me, didn't you?" said Allison, laughing. "But that wasn't all. Guess again."

"Perhaps you came to see me," she suggested shyly.

"Right you are! But that's not all, either. That wouldn't last much longer than the cookies. Guess again."

"Oh, I couldn't!" said Julia Cloud, growing suddenly stricken with the thought of their going. "I give it up."

"Well, then I'll tell you. You see we've come East to college, both of us. Of course I've had my freshman year, but the Kid's just entering. We haven't decided which college it's to be yet, but it's to be co-ed, we know that much, because we're tired of being separated. When one hasn't but two in the family and has been apart for five years, one appreciates a home, I tell you that. And so we've decided we want a home. We're not just going to college to live there in the usual way; we're going to take a house, live like real folks, and go to school every day. We want a fireplace and a cooky-jar of our own; a place to bring our friends and have good times. But most of all we want a mother, and we've come all this way to coax you to come and live with us, play house, you know, as you used to do down on the mossy rocks with broken bits of china for dishes and acorns for cups and saucers. Play house and you be mother. Will you do it, Cloudy Jewel? It means a whole lot to us, and we'll try to play fair and make you have a good time."

Julia Cloud put her hand on her heart, and lifted her bewildered eyes to the boy's eager face.

"Me!" she said wonderingly. "You want me!"

"We sure do!" said Allison.

"Indeed we do, Cloudy, dear! That's just what we do want!" cried Leslie, jumping up and running around to her aunt's chair to embrace her excitedly. "And you promised, you know, that you would do what we wanted if you possibly, possibly could."

"You see, we put it up to our guardian about the house," went on Allison, "and he said the difficulty would be to get the right kind of a housekeeper that he could trust us with. Of course he's way off in California, and he has to be fussy. He's built that way. But we told him we didn't want any housekeeper at all, we wanted a mother. He said you couldn't pick mothers off trees, but we told him we knew where there was one if we could only get her. So he let us come and ask; and, if you say you'll do it, he's coming down to see you and fix it up about the money part. He said you'd have to have a regular salary or he wouldn't consider it, because there were things he'd have to insist upon that he had promised mother; and, if there wasn't a business arrangement about it, he wouldn't know what to do. Besides, he said it was worth a lot to run a couple of rough-necks like Les and me, and he'd make the salary all right so you could afford to leave whatever you were doing and just give your time to mothering us. Now it's up to you, Cloudy Jewel, to help us out with our proposition or spoil everything, because we simply won't have a housekeeper, and we don't know another real mother in the whole world that hasn't a family of her own."

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