Edgar Jepson.

Pollyooly; a romance of long felt wants and the red haired girl who filled them online

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At breakfast she recommended Mrs. Brown to
the Honorable John Ruffin; and on that recom-
mendation he accepted her.

227



228 POLLYOOLY

But he shook his head and said sadly, "She will
do her best, I've no doubt. But I dare not think of
my bacon. I shall buy a calendar and mark off the
days till your return."

After breakfast he said, "And now I'll go and
break the news of your departure to Mr. Gedge-
Tomkins. I hope he will not weep, for I have read
in many books that a strong man's tears are ter-
rible."

"I don't think that Mr. Gedge-Tomkins will cry,
sir," said Pollyooly hopefully. "I shouldn't think
he ever cried."

"Let us hope not," said the Honorable John
Ruffin gloomily. "But I shall cry. I shall cry on
my bacon at breakfast to-morrow morning. I
shall salt it with my tears."

"I've told Mrs. Brown how you like it done, sir,"
said Pollyooly.

"What is telling?" said the Honorable John
Ruffin sternly. "Bacon-grillers are like poets
nascuntur non fiunt."

"It's only for a fortnight, sir," said Pollyooly.

"Only ha, ha ! Only !" said the Honorable John
Ruffin in a deep, tragical voice.



POLLYOOLY PLAYS CHANGELING 229

He went into the chambers of Mr. Gedge-Tom-
kins and knocked at his sitting-room door. Mr.
Gedge-Tomkins, in a gruff voice, bade him enter,
and surveyed him, on his entrance, with cold, disap-
proving eyes.

"Good morning," said the Honorable John Ruffin
in his most amiable tone. "I've arranged for Mary
Bride to get away into the country for a fortnight.
She's looking pale; and fresh air will do her good.
I hope you don't mind. It was all arranged on the
spur of the moment, and there was no time to con-
sult you."

"M'm: what am I to do for a laundress?" said
Mr. Gedge-Tomkins not at all ungraciously.

"Well, I have a very respectable woman coming
in to look after me. She could do for you, too, if
you like."

"Does she drink?" said Mr. Gedge-Tomkins
quickly, as a vision of Mrs. Meeken rose before the
eyes of his mind.

"Certainly not. She's the wife of a policeman,"
said the Honorable John Ruffin with decision.

"Is she? Then if you get a chance you might
hint to her that I do not mind her drinking my



230 POLLYOOLY

whisky in moderation but I do object to her
watering it," said Mr. Gedge-Tomkins cynically.

"Certainly certainly I'll make it quite clear to
her," said the Honorable John Ruffin readily.

"Right. And I'll pay half Pollyooly's trip," said
Mr. Gedge-Tomkins gruffly.

"Oh, a lady's paying all that," said the Honorable
John Ruffin cheerfully. "It's very good of you not
to put any obstacle in the way of her going."

"Not at all not at all," said Mr. Gedge-Tomkins
gruffly.

The Honorable John Ruffin returned to his cham-
bers and informed Pollyooly of his colleague's
urbanity ; and when she brought in his breakfast to
Mr. Gedge-Tomkins, she thanked him herself. He
said that he hoped that the change would do her
good; and as he was starting for the Law Courts,
he gave her five shillings and gruffly bade her buy
something useful with it.

Pollyooly was touched by this mark of his appre-
ciation, for he had always been silent with her. She
thought it well to take the money with her in case
she should in some emergency need it.

At three o'clock that afternoon she took the Lump



POLLYOOLY PLAYS CHANGELING 231

to Mrs. Brown and left him with her. It was
indeed a wrench parting with him, for they had
never before been separated for as long as four
hours at a time since the day he was born. Though
she knew that Mrs. Brown would look after him
as the apple of her eye and she had no fears for his
well-being, she came away from him with a very
sad heart, hating the need to earn twenty pounds,
which severed them. The shining vision of El-
dorado was blurred.

At a quarter to six the Honorable John Ruffin
set out to Waterloo Station. At five minutes to
six the duchess arrived at his chambers, very anx-
ious, nervous, excited. She walked up and down
the room and at intervals she said, "Oh, I do hope
he won't make a mess of it ! . . . I hope nothing's
going wrong ! . . . That clock in the tower there
moves slower than any clock I ever saw!"

Pollyooly, confident of the wisdom and resource
of the Honorable John Ruffin, stood at the window,
unruffled and serene.

She was very patient with the excited duchess,
and at intervals she said, "Mr. Ruffin is^ure to bring
her."



232 POLLYOOLY

In her heart of hearts she was wishing that he
might make a mess of it. She would lose the twenty
pounds indeed; but she would not be parted from
the Lump.

Then at a quarter past six a taxicab came fast
along Paper Buildings; and in it she saw the Hon-
orable John Ruffin and a little girl.

"Here they are, ma'am," she said in a tone of
resignation.

The duchess rushed to the window, saw the Hon-
orable John Ruffin and Lady Marion descend from
the taxicab, and ran half-way down the stairs to
meet them.

Then Pollyooly's double came into the sitting-
room, and the two children stared at each other seri-
ously, with the keenest curiosity.

At once the Honorable John Ruffin set them side
by side to assure himself of the likeness.

"By Jove, it's wonderful!" he cried. "Wonder-
ful!"

The likeness was wonderful. By some curious
freak of nature, Marion was Pollyooly's double.
She was the same length, breadth, and thickness;
she carried herself in the same fashion; she had



POLLYOOLY PLAYS CHANGELING 233

Pollyooly's red hair to a shade; she had her white
skin and blue eyes; she had her delicate features.
It was only when you looked at her closely that you
perceived that she was but an inferior copy of Polly-
ooly. Her hair lacked the luster of Pollyooly's;
it was duller and less abundant. Her skin was not
of so fine a texture as Pollyooly's, and lacked its
translucence. Her eyes were blue, but not of the
intense deep blue of Pollyooly's. Her features were
like, but Nature had molded them with a clumsier
hand, and she lacked wholly Pollyooly's angelic ex-
pression. But you could only see these differences
by a close scrutiny of the children together. Take
either of them apart, and she was Pollyooly, or
Lady Marion Ricksborough, according as you found
her in the King's Bench Walk or at Ricksborough
Court.

Having once satisfied themselves of the likeness,
the Honorable John Ruffin and the duchess lost no
time. With the duchess as maid, the children had
exchanged every stitch of their clothing in less than
five minutes. Then Pollyooly was truly Lady
Marion Deeping, and Marion was Pollyooly; there
was no doubt about it. The duchess kissed Polly-



234 POLLYOOLY

ooly, and wished her good luck. The Honorable
John Ruffin hurried her down the stairs, out of the
Temple into Fleet Street, into a taxicab, and they
drove off to Waterloo.

As the cab started he said, "Everything has gone
right so far. All you've got to do at the station is
to stand still, and a policeman will recognize you
and take you to Mrs. Hutton. Mrs. Hutton's your
maid you'll call her 'Hutton.' Then you under-
stand what you've got to do is to sit tight, and let
the other people do the talking."

"Yes, sir," said Pollyooly.

"Marion's a fairly silent child, I believe, so no
one will notice any change," he said thoughtfully.
"And if she isn't there, as a test, they'll hardly see
that she has suddenly very suddenly grown much
better looking."

"No, sir," said Pollyooly.

"But of course you won't be able to keep silent
all the time; and when you do have to speak, give
yourself airs plenty of airs. Remember that
you're no longer my housekeeper, but Lady Marion
Ricksborough," he said earnestly.



POLLYOOLY PLAYS CHANGELING 235

''Yes, sir," said Pollyooly firmly.

"In fact be what you are a red Deeping. Be a
scarlet Deeping, if you can."

"Yes, sir; I will. I I should like to," said
Pollyooly with a resolute smile.

"That's the right spirit," he said in a tone of
warm approval. "And about getting away. I'll
meet you at half-past two at the top of Ricksbor-
ough home-wood. You'll easily find out where
that is. I shall wait till half-past four. If you're
not there that day, I shall come the day after that
and the day after that."

"I shall be there the first day, sir," said Pollyooly
with a resolute air, thinking of the Lump.

"I think you will. But don't take any risks," he
said, smiling at her. "And one last word : make the
best of the country and the fresh air, and put on
weight."

"Yes, sir," said Pollyooly.

Half-way between Waterloo Bridge and the sta-
tion he stopped the cab, and they got out of it. She
walked on, and he followed her, keeping twenty
yards behind.



236 POLLYOOLY

In this order they came into the station; and
near the booking-office she stopped

She had stood there barely three minutes, when
one of the railway policemen gazed at her earnestly,
bounded up to her and cried, "Are you Lady Ricks-
borough Lady Marion Ricksborough ?"

"What business is it of yours?" said Pollyooly
truculently. "Where's my maid Hutton?"

"I beg pardon, your ladyship, but we've been
'untin' everywhere for your ladyship. If your lady-
ship will come to the superintendent's hoffices, you'll
find your maid," said the policeman.

Pollyooly followed him haughtily.

As he entered the superintendent's office, he cried
triumphantly, "I've found 'er! 'Ere she is!"

Clerks sprang from their desks and gathered
round her. The superintendent himself leaped
lithely out of an inner office and asked her where
she had been.

"Looking at London," said Pollyooly curtly.

Seeing that for a long while she had not set eyes
on any portion of the earth's surface, this was
literally true.

The policeman was despatched to the north sta-



POLLYOOLY PLAYS CHANGELING 237

tion, whither Mrs. Hutton had repaired in the
course of her search. The clerks gloated over Polly-
ooly with respectful admiration induced in them
by her rank, then, they went back to their work.
Pollyooly sat down and waited for her maid.

In a few minutes Mrs. Hutton, a buxom, round-
faced woman of fifty summers, arrived, purple, flus-
tered and vociferous. She enlarged on her terrors
and exertions, on the fact that they had missed their
train, on her ignorance of what his grace would say
when he heard of his daughter's escapade. Then
she inquired what Pollyooly had been doing during
the half-hour that she had been missing.

"Looking at London," said Pollyooly with cold
curtness.

They had not long to wait for a train, and Polly-
ooly enjoyed the journey through the country ex-
ceedingly. She had not known how much she had
been missing it during the two years she had lived
in London. Once or twice, indeed, the prettier
pieces of scenery were a little blurred by the tears
which rose to her eyes. If only the Lump were with
her.

Half-way to Ricksborough, Mrs. Hutton, who



238 POLLYOOLY

seemed to have at last recovered from the shock,
told the entirely indifferent Pollyooly that if she
behaved very nicely during the next three days, she
would not tell the duke of her escapade at Waterloo.
But had Pollyooly behaved like a Borgia during
those three days, Mrs. Hutton would not have told
of it, for she would have got into serious trouble
herself for letting her charge give her the slip. In-
deed, she would certainly have been discharged.

In this way it came about that neither the Duke
of Osterley nor Lady Salkeld, the widowed sister
who kept house for him, knew that there had been
any break in the continuity of their possession of
Marion; and Miss Marlow, Marion's governess,
enjoyed an equal ignorance.

Pollyooly enjoyed the drive in the motor-car from
the station to the court even more than the railway
journey. But for all her wonted courage, she went
up the broad steps and into the great hall on falter-
ing feet.

Only a butler and footman were in it; and they
looked at her with careless eyes. If they had been
men of any observation, they would have been
surprised by the behavior of the half-dozen dogs of



POLLYOOLY PLAYS CHANGELING 239

different sizes which were in the hall. They all
came forward to greet Pollyooly, but they greeted
her with the cautious sniffs of investigators, rather
than with the tail-waggings of intimate friends.
Fortunately, neither the butler, nor the footman, nor
Mrs. Hutton, were observant persons.

Pollyooly seemed in no hurry to go to her own
suite of rooms, and that \vas hardly to be wondered
at, since she did not know that she had a suite of
rooms to go to, much less where it was. She lin-
gered till Mrs. Hutton had given the butler her im-
pressions of the condition of London that day, then
she followed her up-stairs, and without knowing it,
that good woman acted as guide to that suite.

There, in her sitting-room, Pollyooly found Miss
Marlow, her governess a mild and sentimental-,
looking lady of thirty-five who greeted her tepidly,
and enlarged on the discomfort of a journey to Lon-
don on such a hot day. Mindful of the advice of
the Honorable John Ruffin, Pollyooly let her talk, an
exercise to which she seemed not at all disinclined.

Pollyooly escaped from her presently, and went
out into the gardens, where she would have been
entirely happy but for the thought that the Lump



240 POLLYOOLY

was not there to share her pleasure. She wandered
about them, full of delight and admiration. Three
dogs, of shapes strange to her, joined her and ac-
companied her on her wanderings.

Later, a footman summoned her in to her supper,
and at the summons she realized that she had al-
ready derived a very keen appetite from the country
air. The three dogs, who had been growing more
and more respectful and friendly, accompanied her
to her suite of rooms.

Miss Marlow was awaiting her, and at the sight
of her following she said in some surprise, "Why,
I thought you didn't like dogs, Marion."

Pollyooly hesitated a moment, then she said, "I've
changed my mind."

Miss Marlow graced the meal with a gentle flow
of conversation, in which she did not seem to expect
Pollyooly to take any active part. Pollyooly con-
fined herself to saying "yes," or "no," when Miss
Marlow paused.

It seemed to her, indeed, that conversation at such
an excellent meal, with foods so varying and so
appetizing to tax her powers of appreciation, was
somewhat superfluous.



POLLYOOLY PLAYS CHANGELING 241

She went to bed soon after supper and was up and
out betimes. She left the trim gardens for the home-
wood, and was happier than ever exploring it. Five
dogs accompanied her, and fortunately the keepers
had gone home to breakfast. Hunger informed her
of her own breakfast-hour; she breakfasted with
Miss Marlow, and made a hearty and delicious meal.
Never before had it fallen to her lot to spread jam
on her bread and butter, as much jam as ever she
wanted and such jam. Miss Marlow had indeed
reason to remark on the excellence of her appetite.

At ten o'clock lessons began, and there Pollyooly
made her first slip. She had passed all seven stand-
ards at the Muttle-Deeping school, and it never oc-
curred to her that the daughter of a duke would
not possess the learning she had acquired. She as-
tonished Miss Marlow by a display of knowledge
for which there was really no accounting. For-
tunately, Miss Marlow was not intelligent, and she
set down this sudden advance to some unexpected
and, indeed, uncommon development of her charge's
intellect. But her astonishment warned Pollyooly
of her mistake, and she proceeded to move along the
path of learning at a much slower pace.



242 POLLYOOLY

After lessons she went for a walk with Miss
Marlow and six dogs. The dogs relieved the dull-
ness of Miss Mario w's vapid, but unceasing, talk.
Pollyooly lunched with Lady Salkeld, who greeted
her with a tepidness like Miss Marlow's, and since
some friends had motored over to lunch, paid no
more attention to her. Pollyooly was relieved by
this lack of attention; it enabled her to devote all
her mind to the food and her table manners, which,
thanks to her Aunt Hannah's acquaintance with
customs of the great, were good enough to pass
muster. Tea and supper she took with the unob-
servant Miss Marlow in her own sitting-room. She
went to bed that night with an easy mind; so far,
she was sure, no suspicion whatever that she was a
changeling had entered any one's mind.

The next day, also, nothing occurred to disquiet
her. It was not unnatural, for the last thing that
would occur to any one was that nature had been
peculiarly prolific of Lady Marion Ricksborough.
Besides, no one had been greatly interested in
Marion. It was not as if she had been a boy and heir
to the dukedom. Pollyooly began to understand
that her double had led a somewhat lonely life.



POLLYOOLY PLAYS CHANGELING 243

This general lack of interest in her made her
task much easier: none the less, it was a difficult
one for a child of twelve. There were so many
things to learn the names of the dogs and the serv-
ants, of Lady Salkeld's cats; her way about the
court; the places in which Marion kept her posses-
sions. She had to learn them without letting any
one of the family or the servants perceive that she
was learning them. The need for perpetual wari-
ness was trying.

Now and again, of course, in spite of the faith-
fulness with which she followed the instructions of
the Honorable John Ruffin to let other people do
the talking, she did make a slip, displaying an
ignorance of some familiar fact which should have
astounded those about her. It was fortunate, in-
deed, that she had to do with unobservant persons.
The servants were her chief danger; and she felt it.
By the circumstances of their life they had to be
more observant. But with them the Honorable John
Ruffin's other injunction to be a red Deeping and
give herself airs, stood her in good stead. They,
too, were not interested in Marion, and though they
noticed this change, it was not of a kind to awake



244 POLLYOOLY

their suspicions. With them Pollyooly was at times
almost truculent.

More than once, in the secrecy of the house-
keeper's room, Mrs. Hutton said gloomily: "I
don't know what's come to that there Marion. She's
taken to giving herself such airs that there's no do-
ing anything with her. The way she orders me
about, she might be twenty."

"Lady Marion's a red Deeping; and they're like
that. And, what's more, she's getting to the age
when it comes out," said the housekeeper sagely.

In spite of the trying need for continuous wari-
ness, Pollyooly was enjoying her stay in the country
beyond all words. Her pleasure was only marred
by the frequent thought that the Lump was not with
her to share it; the desire for him was persistent.
She would have liked also a companion of her own
age ; but the dogs proved fairly efficient substitutes.
They attached themselves to her to a dog. Firmly
and with devotion, big dogs and little dogs, they ac-
companied her on all her excursions.

They were not, indeed, welcome in the woods,
and were the occasion of her displaying her best
red Deeping manner to an under-keeper, who had



POLLYOOLY PLAYS CHANGELING 245

the fond idea that so much noise was not good for
his sacred, but nesting, pheasants.

Pollyooly felt very strongly that it was the in-
alienable right of a daughter of a duke to disturb
nesting pheasants if she wanted to; and before she
had done with him, the keeper felt it too. The feel-
ing that she was the daughter of a duke was grow-
ing on her and changing her. Before coming to
Ricksborough Court she had always been able, with-
out an effort, to assume a most truculent air ; but for
the most part, she had looked a gentle, angel child.
Now though she remained the angel child, under the
influence of the excellent food and fresh air, she
was growing the angel child with an air of serene
confidence in herself and her destiny.

It was on the fifth day of her stay that a new
disquieting figure, the first real menace to her se-
curity, came to the court. The duke was to arrive
at four o'clock ; and Mrs. Hutton dressed Pollyooly
in a somewhat too elaborate frock of amber silk
to have tea with him and Lady Salkeld.

When Pollyooly came into the drawing-room,
she found not only the duke, but also his nephew
and heir, Lord Ronald Ricksborough, a dark, good-



246 POLLYOOLY

looking boy of fourteen, of an almost girlish deli-
cacy of complexion. The duke, a dapper little thin-
lipped man of thirty-five with a small, unhappy
drab mustache with which he for ever fidgeted,
gave her an indifferent glance and protruded two
limp fingers. Pollyooly shook them gingerly. Ron-
ald shook hands with her in a somewhat perfunc-
tory and condescending fashion.

Then another new-comer, a fox-terrier, came for-
ward and sniffed at her skirts with an air of in-
quiring doubt.

: Their elders, who were talking to one another,
did not observe it; but Ronald said in a tone of
great astonishment, "Why, what's the matter with
.Wiggs? He's pretending he doesn't know Marion."

It seemed to Pollyooly that now, if ever, was
the time for airs; she drew herself up and said
scornfully: "He's a silly dog."

"That he isn't! He's one of the most intelligent
dogs in the world ; and you know it as well as I do,"
said Ronald hotly.

"He's not intelligent now, anyhow," said Polly-
ooly coldly.

"He must be kidding," said Ronald; but he



POLLYOOLY PLAYS CHANGELING 247

looked with a puzzled air from Wiggs to Pollyooly
and from Pollyooly to Wiggs.

Pollyooly felt that she would have to be very
careful indeed in his presence, and she made up her
mind to have as little to do with him as possible.
At tea she only gave the shortest answers to his
questions, and seemed to be sulking. After tea she
changed her frock and slipped away to the home-
wood.

But she soon learned that it would be difficult to
avoid him, for he took his breakfast, tea and supper
with her and Miss Marlow ; and at lunch he sat be-
side Pollyooly.

To remain silent was foreign to his nature, and
she found his talk awkward to deal with, for it was
full of allusions to events which had happened dur-
ing his last holidays in which they had both taken
part. Sometimes she extricated herself successfully
from her difficulties ; sometimes she did not. He fell
into the way of regarding her with a puzzled air
which sometimes disquieted her exceedingly.

One morning at breakfast, after one of her fail-
ures, he said to Miss Marlow : "Marion's memory's
getting jolly bad."



248 POLLYOOLY

"Then it's like your manners," said Pollyooly, ex-
ercising the somewhat dangerous gift of retort she
had acquired during her two years' residence in Al-
satia.

"Now last holidays you'd never have said a thing
like that. You weren't a bit cheeky," said Ronald ;
and he looked at her with the disquieting, puzzled
air.

"Cheeky yourself," said Pollyoofy with some
heat.

"I think you've changed tremendously," said Ron-
ald. "Don't you think she's changed, Miss Mar-
low?"

"I think her intelligence is improving," said Miss
Marlow.

"I don't think it's only that," said Ronald doubt-
fully. "She looks different. Her skin is clearer and
her eyes are bluer."

"We all change," said Miss Marlow sapiently.

Pollyooly said nothing.

She grew more and more alive to her danger, and
she found him more and more difficult to avoid.
The fancy took him, in default of other companion-
ship, to spend more and more of his time with her;



POLLYOOLY PLAYS CHANGELING 249

and the fancy was much strengthened by her plain
desire that he should do nothing of the kind. That
desire also surprised him, for he had been used to
regard Marion as a respectful admirer. Pollyooly
could not indeed make it as clear as she would have
liked, that she did not desire his companionship ; her
natural politeness forbade it.

It was not only the danger that made her shun
him, it was also her deeply ingrained distrust of
boys in general. To her they were a savage tribe,
who pulled your hair when you were not looking, or
when you were: a tribe which rudely called you
"Ginger."

As she came to see more of Ronald she was great-
ly surprised to find that he lacked the barbarous
hair-pulling habit. To her even greater surprise,
he was most of the time courteous. She was the
less surprised therefore to find herself, at the end of
a couple of days of his society, regarding an indubi-
table boy with approval, even with liking. She
began to find the task of deceiving him not only
trying but also somewhat ungrateful.

For his part, he was most agreeably surprised
by the changes in his cousin. She had acquired an


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Online LibraryEdgar JepsonPollyooly; a romance of long felt wants and the red haired girl who filled them → online text (page 11 of 16)