Cloudy Jewel (Chapter 9, page 1 of 8)

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Chapter 9

The next two days were busy ones. There were a great many last little things to be done, and Julia Cloud would have worked herself out, had not the children interfered and carried her off for a ride every little while. The intervening Sabbath was spent at Ellen Robinson's. The handsome hand-bag and wallet served to keep Ellen from being very disagreeable. In fact, at the last, when she began to realize that Julia was really going away, and would not be down at the old house any more for her to burden and torment, she really revealed a gleam of affection for her, and quite worried poor Julia with thinking that perhaps, after all, she ought not to go away so far from her only sister. When Ellen sat down on the bare stairs in the old hall Monday morning, and gave vent to a real sob at parting, Julia had a swift vision of her little sister years ago sitting on that same stair weeping from a fall, and herself comforting her; and she put her arms around Ellen, and kissed her for the first time in many reticent years.

But at last they were off, having handed over the keys to the new tenant, and Julia Cloud leaned back on the luxurious cushions and laughed. Not from mirth, for there were tears in her eyes; and not from nervousness, for she was never subject to hysteria; but just from sheer excitement and joy to think that she was really going out in the world at last to see things and live a life of her own.

The two young people felt it, and laughed with her, until the blackbirds, swirling in a rustling chorus overhead on their way south, seemed to be joining in, and a little squirrel whisked across the road and sat up inquiringly on a log framed in scarlet leaves.

They went straight to the city, for Mr. Luddington had promised to meet them there and confer with them further about their plans. But, when they reached the hotel, they found only a telegram from him saying that business had held him longer than he expected and that he should have to arrange to meet them farther along in their journey. He suggested three colleges, either one of which he should favor, and outlined their journey to take in a stop at each. He promised to communicate with them later, and gave his own address in case they decided to remain at either the first or the second place visited.

"Now," said Julia Cloud after the telegram was disposed of, "I want to get a new dress and a few things before we go any farther. I know you children don't like these old black things, and we might as well start out right. It won't take me long, and I shall be ready to go on my way right after lunch."

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