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right; it's gone up to the rooms - all except the portmanteau, and
Francis will go down to the station and straighten that out."

"I'm not in the least troubled in regard to the luggage, Jasper,"
replied his father, testily; "it's something much more important than
the luggage question about which I wish to speak to you."

Jasper stared, well knowing his father's views in regard to the luggage
question. "The first thing that you must unpack - the very first," old
Mr. King was saying, "is your music. Don't wait a minute, Jasper, but
go and get it. And then call Polly, and - "

"Why, father," exclaimed Jasper, "there isn't a single place to play
in. You don't know how people stare if we touch the piano. We can't
here, father; there's such a crowd in this hotel."

"You do just as I say, Jasper," commanded his father. "And tell Polly
to get her music; and then do you two go to the little room out of the
big parlour, and play to your hearts' content." And he burst into a
hearty laugh at Jasper's face, as he dangled a key at the end of a
string, before him.

"Now I do believe, father, that you've got Polly a piano and a little
room to play in," cried Jasper, joyfully, and pouncing on the key.

"You go along and do as I tell you," said Mr. King, mightily pleased at
the success of his little plan. "And don't you tell Polly Pepper one
word until she has taken her music down in the little room," as Jasper
bounded off on the wings of the wind.

And in that very hotel was the big fat man with the dreadful black
beard, resting after a long season of hard work.

But Polly and Jasper wouldn't have cared had they known it, as long as
they had their own delightful little music room to themselves - as they
played over and over all the dear old pieces, and Polly revelled in
everything that she was so afraid she had forgotten.

"I really haven't lost it, Jasper!" she would exclaim radiantly, after
finishing a concerto, and dropping her hands idly on the keys. "And I
was _so_ afraid I'd forgotten it entirely. Just think, I haven't played
that for three months, Jasper King."

"Well, you haven't forgotten a bit of it," declared Jasper, just as
glad as she was. "You didn't make any mistakes, hardly, Polly."

"Oh, yes, I made some," said Polly, honestly, whirling around on the
piano stool to look at him.

"Oh, well, only little bits of ones," said Jasper; "those don't
signify. I wish father could have heard that concerto. What a pity he
went out just before you began it."

But somebody else, on the other side of the partition between the
little music room and the big parlour, had heard, and he pulled his
black beard thoughtfully with his long fingers, then pricked up his
ears to hear more. And it was funny how, almost every day, whenever the
first notes on the piano struck up in Mr. King's little music room, the
big fat man, who was so tired with his season of hard work, never
seemed to think that he could rest as well as in that particular corner
up against that partition. And no matter what book or paper he had in
his hand, he always dropped it and fell to pulling his black beard with
his long fingers, before the music was finished.

And then, "Oh, Polly, come child, you have played long enough," from
Mother Fisher on the other side of the partition; or old Mr. King would
say, "No more practising to-day, Miss Polly;" or Phronsie would pipe
out, "Polly, Grandpapa is going to take us out on the lake; do come,
Polly." And then it was funnier yet to see how suddenly the big fat man
with the dreadful black beard seemed to find that particular corner by
that partition a very tiresome place. And as the piano clicked down its
cover, he would yawn, and get up and say something in very rapid German
to himself, and off he would go, forgetting all about his book or
newspaper, which, very likely, would tumble to the floor, and flap away
by itself till somebody came and picked it up and set it on the sofa.

One morning old Mr. King, hurrying along with his batch of English mail
to enjoy opening it in the little music room where Jasper and Polly
were playing a duet, ran up suddenly against a fat heavy body coming
around an opposite angle.

"Oh, I beg your pardon, sir," exclaimed Mr. King in great distress, the
more so as he saw that the stranger's glasses were knocked off his nose
by the collision. "I do trust they are not broken," he added, in a
concerned tone, endeavouring to pick them up.

But the big man was before him. "Not a beet, not a beet," he declared,
adjusting them on his nose again. Then he suddenly grasped old Mr.
King's hand. "And I be very glad, sir, _very_ glad indeed, dat I haf
roon into you."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Mr. King, releasing his hand instantly, and all the
concern dropping out of his face.

"_Very_ glad indeed!" repeated the big man, heartily; then he pulled
his black beard, and stood quite still a moment.

"If you have nothing more to remark, sir," said Mr. King, haughtily,
"perhaps you will be kind enough to stand out of my way, and allow me
to pass. And it would be as well for you to observe more care in the
future, sir, both in regard to your feet, and your tongue, sir."

"Yes, I am _very_ glad," began the big man again, who hadn't even heard
Mr. King's tirade, "for now - " and he gave his black beard a final
twitch, and his eyes suddenly lightened with a smile that ran all over
his face, "I can speak to you of dis ting dat is in my mind. Your - "

"I want to hear nothing of what is on your mind," declared old Mr.
King, now thoroughly angry. "Stand aside, fellow, and let me pass," he
commanded, in a towering passion.

The big man stared in astonishment into the angry face, the smile
dropping out of his own. "I beg to _ex_cuse myself," he said, with a
deep bow, and a wave of his long fingers. "Will you pass?" and he moved
up as tightly as possible to the wall.

Old Mr. King went into the little music room in a furious rage, and
half an hour afterward Polly and Jasper, pausing to look around, saw
him tossing and tumbling his letters and newspapers about on the table,
fuming to himself all the while.

"Father has had bad news!" exclaimed Jasper, turning pale; "something
about his agents, probably."

"O dear me! and here we have been playing," cried Polly in remorse,
every vestige of colour flying from her cheek.

"Well, we didn't know," said Jasper, quickly. "But what can we do now,
Polly?" he turned to her appealingly.

"I don't know," she was just going to say helplessly, but Jasper's face
made her see that something must be done. "Let's go and tell him we are
sorry," she said; "that's what Mamsie always liked best if she felt

So the two crept up behind old Mr. King's chair: "Father, I'm _so_
sorry," and "Dear Grandpapa, I'm _so_ sorry," and Polly put both arms
around his neck suddenly.

"Eh - what?" cried Mr. King, sitting bolt upright in astonishment. "Oh,
bless me, children, I thought you were playing on the piano."

"We were," said Polly, hurrying around to the side of the table, her
face quite rosy now, "but we didn't know - " and she stopped short,
unable to find another word.

" - that you felt badly," finished Jasper. "Oh, father, we didn't know
that you'd got bad news." He laid his hand as he spoke on the pile of
tumbled-up letters.

"Bad news!" ejaculated old Mr. King, in perplexity, and looking from
one to the other.

"No, we didn't," repeated Polly, clasping her hands. "Dear Grandpapa,
we truly didn't, or we wouldn't have kept on playing all this time."

Mr. King put back his head and laughed long and loud, as he hadn't done
for many a day, his ill humour dropping off in the midst of it. "The
letters are all right," he said, wiping his eyes, "never had better
news. It was an impertinent fellow I met out there, that's all."

"Father, who has dared - " began Jasper, with flashing eyes.

"Don't you worry, my boy; it's all right, the fellow got his quietus;
besides, he wasn't worth minding," said Mr. King, carelessly. "Why,
here is your mother," turning to Polly. "Now then, Mrs. Fisher, what is
it; for I see by your eye some plan is on the carpet."

"Yes, there is," said Mrs. Fisher, coming in with a smile, "the doctor
is going to take a day off."

"Is that really so?" cried Mr. King, with a little laugh. "What! not
even going to visit one of his beloved hospitals?" while Polly
exclaimed, radiantly, "Oh, how perfectly elegant! Now we'll have
Papa-Doctor for a whole long day!"

Phronsie, who had been close to her mother's gown during the delivery
of this important news, clasped her hands in a quiet rapture, while
Polly exclaimed, "Now, Grandpapa, can it be the Rigi?" Jasper echoing
the cry heartily.

"I suppose it is to be the Rigi," assented old Mr. King, leaning back
in his chair to survey them all, "that is, if Mrs. Fisher approves.
We'll let you pick out the jaunting place," turning to her, "seeing
that it is the doctor's holiday."

"I know that Dr. Fisher wants very much to go up the Rigi," said his
wife, in great satisfaction at the turn the plans were taking.

"And we'll stay over night, father," cried Jasper, "won't we?"

"Stay over night?" repeated his father, "I should say so. Why, what
would be the good of our going up at all, pray tell, if we didn't
devote that much time to it and have a try for a sunrise?"

"We're to go up the Rigi!" exclaimed Polly, giving a little whirl, and
beginning to dance around the room, repeating, "We're to go up the
Rigi," exactly as if nobody knew it, and she was telling perfectly
fresh news.

"Here - that dance looks awfully good - wait for me," cried Jasper. And
seizing her hands, they spun round and round, Phronsie scuttling after
them, crying, "Take me, too. I want to dance, Polly."

"So you shall," cried Polly and Jasper together; so they made a little
ring of three, and away they went, Polly this time crying, "Just think,
we're going to have the most beautiful sunrise in all this world."

And on the other side of the partition, in his accustomed nook in the
big parlour, the big fat man with the black beard sat. He pulled this
same black beard thoughtfully a bit, when Mr. King was telling about
the impertinent fellow. Then he smiled and jabbered away to himself
very hard in German; and it wasn't till the King party hurried off to
get ready for the Rigi trip, that he got up and sauntered off.

And almost the first person that old Mr. King saw on getting his party
into a car on the funicular railway, was the "impertinent fellow," also
bound for the top of the Rigi.

"Oh, Grandpapa!" Polly got out of her seat and hurried to him with
cheeks aflame, when midway up.

"I know - isn't it wonderful!" cried Grandpapa, happy in her pleasure,
and finding it all just as marvellous as if he hadn't made the ascent
several times.

"Yes, yes!" cried Polly. "It is all perfectly splendid, Grandpapa; but
oh, I mean, _did_ you hear what that lady said?" and she dropped her
voice, and put her mouth close to Grandpapa's ear.

"I'm sure I didn't," said old Mr. King, carelessly, "and I'm free to
confess I'm honestly glad of it. For if there is one thing I detest
more than another, Polly, my girl, it is to hear people, especially
women, rave and gush over the scenery."

"Oh, she didn't rave and gush," cried Polly, in a whisper, afraid that
the lady heard. "She said, Grandpapa, that Herr Bauricke is at Lucerne;
just think, Grandpapa, the great Herr Bauricke!"

She took her mouth away from the old gentleman's ear in order to look
in his face.

"Polly, Polly," called Jasper from his seat on the farther end, "you
are losing all this," as the train rounded a curve. "Do come back."

"Now, I'm glad of that," exclaimed Grandpapa, in a tone of the greatest
satisfaction, "for I can ask him about the music masters in Dresden and
get his advice, and be all prepared before we go there for the winter
to secure the very best."

"And I can see him, and perhaps hear him play," breathed Polly, in an
awestruck tone, quite lost to scenery and everything else. Jasper
leaned forward and stared at her in amazement. Then he slipped out of
his seat, and made his way up to them to find out what it was all about.

"How did she know?" he asked, as Polly told all she knew; "I'm just
going to ask her." But the lady, who had caught snatches of the
conversation, though she hadn't heard Mr. King's part of it, very
obligingly leaned forward in her seat and told all she knew.

And by the time this was done, they all knew that the information was
in the American paper printed in Paris, and circulated all over the
Continent, and that the lady had read it that very morning just before
setting out.

"The only time I missed reading that paper," observed old Mr. King,

"And he is staying at our very hotel," finished the lady, "for I have
seen you, sir, with your party there."

"Another stroke of good luck," thought old Mr. King, "and quite easy to
obtain the information I want as to a master for Polly and Jasper."

"Now then, children," he said to the two hanging on the conversation,
"run back to your seats and enjoy the view. This news of ours will

So Polly and Jasper ran back obediently, but every step of the toilsome
ascent by which the car pushed its way to the wonderful heights above,
Polly saw everything with the words, "Herr Bauricke is at _our_ hotel,"
ringing through her ears; and she sat as in a maze. Jasper was nearly
as bad.

And then everybody was pouring out of the cars and rushing for the
hotel on the summit; all but Mr. King's party and a few others, who had
their rooms engaged by telegraphing up. When they reached the big
central hall there was a knot of Germans all talking together, and on
the outside fringe of this knot, people were standing around and
staring at the central figure. Suddenly some one darted away from this
outer circle and dashed up to them. It was the lady from their hotel.

"I knew you'd want to know," she exclaimed breathlessly; "that's Herr
Bauricke himself - he came up on our train - just think of it! - the big
man in the middle with the black beard." She pointed an excited finger
at the knot of Germans.

Old Mr. King followed the course of the finger, and saw his
"impertinent fellow who wasn't worth minding."



Polly got Jasper away into a side corridor by a beseeching little pull
on his sleeve. "Oh, just to think," she mourned, "I called that great
man such unpleasant things - that he was big and fat, and - oh, oh!"

"Well, he _is_ big and fat," declared Jasper. "We can't say he isn't,

"But I meant it all against him," said Polly, shaking her head. "You
know I did, Jasper," she added remorsefully.

"Yes, we neither of us liked him," said Jasper, "and that's the honest
truth, Polly."

"And to think it was that _great_ Herr Bauricke!" exclaimed Polly. Then
her feelings overcame her, and she sank down on the cushioned seat in
the angle.

Jasper sat down beside her. "I suppose it won't do to say anything
about people after this until we know them. Will it, Polly?"

"Jasper," declared Polly, clasping her hands, while the rosy colour
flew over her cheek, "I'm never going to say a single - "

Just then the big form of Herr Bauricke loomed up before them, as he
turned into the corridor.

Polly shrank up in her corner as small as she could, wishing she was as
little as Phronsie, and could hop up and run away.

Herr Bauricke turned his sharp eyes on them for a moment, hesitated,
then came directly up, and stopped in front of them. "I meant - I
_in_tended to speak to your grandfader first. Dat not seem best _now_."
The great man was really talking to them, and Polly held her breath,
not daring to look into his face, but keeping her gaze on his wonderful
fingers. "My child," those wonderful fingers seized her own, and
clasped them tightly, "you have great promise, mind you, you know only
a leedle now, and you must work - _work - work_." He brought it out so
sharply, that the last word was fairly shrill. "But I tink you will,"
he added kindly, dropping his tone. Then he laid her fingers gently in
her lap.

"Oh, she does, sir," exclaimed Jasper, finding his tongue first, for
Polly was beyond speaking. "Polly works all the time she can."

"Dat is right." Herr Bauricke bobbed his head in approval, so that his
spectacles almost fell off. "I hear dat, in de music she play. No
leedle girl play like dat, who doesn't work. I will hear you sometime
at de hotel," he added abruptly, "and tell you some tings dat will help
you. To-morrow, maybe, when we go down from dis place, eh?"

"Oh, sir," exclaimed Polly, springing off from her cushion before
Jasper could stop her. "You are _so_ good - but - but - I cannot," then
her breath gave out, and she stood quite still.

"Eh?" exclaimed Herr Bauricke, and pushing up his spectacles to stare
into her flushed and troubled face. "Perhaps I not make my meaning
clear; I mean I _geef_ you of my time and my best _ad_vice. Now you
understand - eh?" He included Jasper in his puzzled glance.

"Yes, sir," Jasper made haste to say. "We do understand; and it is so
very good of you, and Polly will accept it, sir." "For father will make
it all right with him as to the payment," he reflected easily.

"Ah, now," exclaimed Herr Bauricke, joyfully, a light beaming all over
his fat face, "dat is someting like - to-morrow, den, we - "

"But, oh, sir," Polly interrupted, "I cannot," and she twisted her
hands in distress. "I - I - didn't like you, and I said so." Then she
turned very pale, and her head drooped.

Jasper leaned over, and took her hand. "Neither did I, sir," he said.
"I was just as bad as Polly."

"You not tink me nice looking - so?" said Herr Bauricke. "Well, I not
tink so myself, eeder. And I scare you maybe, wid dis," and he twisted
his black beard with his long fingers. "Ah, so; well, we will forget
all dis, leedle girl," and he bent down and took Polly's other fingers
that hung by her side. "And eef you not let me come to-morrow to your
leedle music room, and tell you sometings to help you learn better, I
shall know dat you no like me _now_ - eh?"

"Oh, sir," Polly lifted her face, flooded with rosy colour up to her
brown hair, "if you only will forgive me?"

"I no forgeef; I not remember at all," said Herr Bauricke, waving his
long fingers in the air. "And I go to-morrow to help you, leedle girl,"
and he strode down the corridor.

Polly and Jasper rushed off, they scarcely knew how, to Grandpapa, to
tell him the wonderful news, - to find him in a truly dreadful state of
mind. When they had told their story, he was as much worse as could
well be imagined.

"Impossible, impossible!" was all he could say, but he brought his hand
down on the table before him with so much force that Jasper felt a
strange sinking of heart. What could be the matter?

"Why, children, and you all" (for his whole party was before him),
exclaimed Mr. King, "Herr Bauricke is that impertinent person who
annoyed me this morning, and I called him 'fellow' to his face!"

It was so very much worse than Jasper had dreamed, that he collapsed
into the first chair, all Polly's prospects melting off like dew before
the sun.

"Hum!" Little Dr. Fisher was the first to speak. He took off his big
spectacles and wiped them; then put them on his nose and adjusted them
carefully, and glared around the group, his gaze resting on old Mr.
King's face.

Polly, who had never seen Jasper give way like this, forgot her own
distress, and rushed up to him. "Oh, don't, Jasper," she begged.

"You see I can't allow Herr Bauricke to give any lessons or advice to
Polly after this," went on Mr. King, hastily. "Of course he would be
paid; but, under the circumstances, it wouldn't do, not in the least.
It is quite out of the question," he went on, as if some one had been
contradicting him. But no one said a word.

"Why don't some of you speak?" he asked, breaking the pause. "Dr.
Fisher, you don't generally keep us waiting for your opinion. Speak out
now, man, and let us have it."

"It is an awkward affair, surely," began the little doctor, slowly.

"Awkward? I should say so," frowned Mr. King; "it's awkward to the last
degree. Here's a man who bumps into me in a hotel passage, - though, for
that matter, I suppose it's really my fault as much as his, - and I
offer to pick up his spectacles that were dropped in the encounter. And
he tells me that he is glad that we ran up against each other, for it
gives him a chance to tell me what is on his mind. As if I cared what
was on his mind, or on the mind of any one else, for that matter," he
declared, in extreme irritation. "And I told him to his face that he
was an impertinent fellow, and to get out of my way. Yes, I did!"

A light began to break on little Dr. Fisher's face, that presently
shone through his big spectacles, fairly beaming on them all. Then he
burst into a laugh, hearty and long.

"Why, Adoniram!" exclaimed Mother Fisher, in surprise. Polly turned a
distressed face at him; and to say that old Mr. King stared would be
stating the case very mildly indeed.

"Can't you see, oh, can't you see," exploded the little doctor, mopping
up his face with his big handkerchief, "that your big German was trying
to tell you of Polly's playing, and to say something, probably pretty
much the same that he has said to her and to Jasper? O dear me, I
should like to have been there to see you both," ended Dr. Fisher,
faintly. Then he went off into another laugh.

"I don't see much cause for amusement," said old Mr. King, grimly, when
this idea broke into his mind, "for it's a certain fact that I called
him a fellow, and told him to get out of the way."

"Well, he doesn't bear you any malice, apparently," said the little
doctor, who, having been requested to speak, saw no reason for
withholding any opinion he might chance to have, "for, if he did, he
wouldn't have made that handsome offer to Polly."

"That may be; the offer is handsome enough," answered Mr. King, "that
is the trouble, it's too handsome. I cannot possibly accept it under
the awkward circumstances. No, children," he turned to Polly and
Jasper, as if they had been beseeching him all the while, "you needn't
ask it, or expect it," and he got out of his chair, and stalked from
the room.

Jasper buried his face in his hands, and a deep gloom settled over the
whole party, on all but little Dr. Fisher. He pranced over to Polly and
Jasper just as merrily as if nothing dreadful had happened. "Don't you
be afraid, my boy," he said; "your father is a dreadfully sensible man,
and there's no manner of doubt but that he will fix this thing up."

"Oh, you don't know father," groaned Jasper, his head in his hands,
"when he thinks the right thing hasn't been done or said. And now Polly
will miss it all!" And his head sank lower yet.

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Dr. Fisher. Yet he had a dreadful feeling coming
over him, and he turned to Polly imploringly.

"Oh, I do believe it, Jasper," cried Polly, "what Papa-Doctor says. And
just look at Mamsie!" she cried, beneath her breath.

And truly Mother Fisher was having a hard time to control herself. That
Jasper could see as he lifted his head. And the little doctor also saw,
and skipped back across the room to her side. And Phronsie, feeling
plunged into the deepest woe by all this dreadful state of affairs,
that had come too bewilderingly for her to rally to Grandpapa's side,
first began to cry. And then, thinking better of it, went softly out of
the door, and no one noticed her when she went - with the tears running
down her cheeks.

Down the long corridor she hurried, not knowing which way Grandpapa
went, but turning into the little reading room, she spied him sitting
by the table. The apartment was otherwise empty. He wasn't reading, not
even looking at a paper, but sitting bolt upright, and lost in thought.

"Grandpapa," she said, laying a soft little hand on his arm. "Oh, I'm
so glad I found you." And she nestled up to his side.

"Eh? Oh, Phronsie, child." Old Mr. King put his arm around her, and
drew her closely to him. "So you came after your old Grand-daddy, did

"Yes, I did," said Phronsie, with a glad little cry, snuggling up
tighter to him, while the tears trailed off down his waistcoat, but not
before he had seen them.

"Now, Phronsie, you are not to cry any more," he said, with a pang at
the sight. "You won't, dear; promise me that."

So Phronsie promised; and he held her hands, and, clearing his throat,
he began, "Well, now I suppose they felt pretty badly, back there in

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Online LibraryMargaret SidneyFive Little Peppers Abroad → online text (page 12 of 19)