Cloudy Jewel (Chapter 5, page 1 of 8)

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Chapter 5

The air was fine; the sky was clear without a cloud; and the spice of autumn flavored everything. Along the roadside blackberry vines were turning scarlet, and here and there in the distance a flaming branch proclaimed the approach of a frosty wooing. One could not ask anything better on such a day than to be speeding along this white velvet road in the great blue car with two beloved children.

But all too soon Herbert Robinson's ornate house loomed up, stark and green, with very white trimmings, and regular flower-beds each side of the gravel walk. It was the home of a prosperous man, and as such asserted itself. There had never been anything attractive about it to Julia Cloud. She preferred the ugly old house in which she had always lived, with its scaling gray paint and no pretensions to fineness. At least it was softened by age, and had a look of experience which saved its ugliness from being crude, and gave it the dignity of time.

And now Julia Cloud's heart began to beat rapidly. All at once she felt that she had done a most foolish thing in allowing the children to overrule her and bring her here. Ellen would not be dressed up nor have the children ready for inspection, and she would be angry at her sister for not having given warning of their coming. She leaned forward breathlessly to suggest turning back; but Allison, perhaps anticipating her feeling, said: "Now don't you get cold feet, Cloudy Jewel. If Aunt Ellen is sore, just you talk up to her, and smile a lot, and we'll back you up. Remember everything's, going fine, and the whole thing's settled. It's too late to change it now. Is this the place? We'll turn right in, shall we?" And with the words he swept up under the elaborate wooden porte-cochère, and, swinging down, flung the door open for Julia Cloud to alight.

Leslie gave a quick, disdainful glance about, fluttered out beside her aunt, and, catching the look of apprehension on her face, tripped up the steps and rang the bell, poising bird-like on the threshold and calling in a sweet, flute-like voice: "Aunt Ellen! O Aunt Ellen! Where are you? Don't you know you've got company all the way from California?"

It was just like taking the bull by the horns, and Julia Cloud paused on the upper step in wonder. How winning a child she was! and how she had known by intuition just how to mollify her unpleasant relative!

What would Ellen say? How would she take it?

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