Margaret Sidney.

Five Little Peppers Abroad online

. (page 14 of 19)
Online LibraryMargaret SidneyFive Little Peppers Abroad → online text (page 14 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


"O dear me," cried Polly, in distress, "I'd rather stay, Mamsie, and
have you go."

"No," said Mrs. Fisher, firmly, "I shall stay, so that is all there is
about it, Polly. Now run along, child, and tell Matilda to hurry out
too, for she wants to see the sunrise."

Polly still lingered, until her mother looked up in surprise. "Why,
Polly," she said, reprovingly.

"O dear me!" exclaimed Polly, "I didn't mean to disobey, Mamsie, I
really didn't; I'll go." And setting a kiss on Mother Fisher's black
hair, she ran out on unsteady feet, and with all her comfort gone.

When she joined her group it would have been rather hard to distinguish
any of them, as everybody was wrapped up in shawls and rugs, if Jasper
hadn't been a sort of scout in waiting for her and Mrs. Fisher and
Phronsie. And Tom could easily be picked out, for he hung around in
Jasper's wake, and besides, he was so very big.

"Where are they?" asked Jasper, looking down the corridor back of her.

"Oh, Mamsie isn't coming, nor Phronsie either, for she's asleep. And
Mamsie made me come," finished Polly, dismally.

"O dear me," said Jasper, quite gone in sympathy. Tom Selwyn poked his
head forward to hear, but, as it was something quite beyond his powers
to help, he thrust his hands into his pockets, and kicked aimlessly on
the floor.

"Well, come on, Polly," said Jasper, wishing he could lift the gloom
from Polly's face, and feeling quite dismal himself.

Little Dr. Fisher, muffled up in a big plaid shawl so that only his
spectacles gleamed in between the folds and his cap, suddenly edged up
back of Polly, and dropped the folds away from his ears so that he
could hear what was going on. And when the group hurried out of the
door, into the cold gray dawn, he was skipping down to his wife's room,
in the liveliest way imaginable.

Old Mr. King had gone on ahead with the parson, as he couldn't scramble
so fast. And now he met them with, "Well, are you all here - where's
Phronsie?"

"Oh, Jasper, I can't tell him," gasped Polly, up on the tiptop bunch of
rocks, and trying to be glad of the promise of the beautiful sunrise to
come, for everybody agreed that it was apparently to be the best one
that had gladdened the hearts of travellers for years. Then she whirled
around and stared with all her might, "If there isn't Mamsie coming!"

"As true as you live it is!" cried Jasper, with a good look, and
springing down the rocks to help her up. Tom Selwyn plunged after him,
getting there first. So in the bustle, nobody answered Mr. King. And
he, supposing from the merry chatter that Phronsie was in the midst of
it, concluded it best not to interrupt their fun, even if he could make
them hear.

"Your father made me come, Polly," said Mrs. Fisher, coming up between
the two boys. "But I'd so much rather that he saw it." And her downcast
face looked so very much like Polly, that Jasper thought matters hadn't
bettered themselves any.

"But, Mamsie," said Polly, creeping up to her with all the comfort she
could, "it makes him happy, just as it made you happy to have me go."

"I know it," said Mother Fisher, with a sigh, "but he has so few
pleasures, Polly, and he works so hard." And her gaze wandered off to
the distant clouds, slowly beginning to break away.

Polly held her breath as they waited and looked, although her heart was
sad when the wee little streak of light began to come over in the east.

"Isn't that just beautiful!" exclaimed Jasper, trying to enjoy it as
much as he had expected; "see, Polly, the stars seem going
out - daylight's coming!"

"I know," said Polly, "so it is." Sure enough, a little strip of gold
touched up the leaden sky, and spread slowly.

"See, it's turning pink." Mrs. Selwyn's plain, quiet face glowed. "See,
Polly, look at that peak bathed in colour."

Just then a little voice said, "Oh, isn't that beautiful!" And whirling
around on her rock, Polly saw little Dr. Fisher staggering along with a
big bundle in his arms, out of which was peering Phronsie's face.

Mother Fisher had turned too. "Oh, Adoniram!" was all she said, as
Polly sprang off to meet them.

"Give her to me," cried Tom Selwyn, of course reaching there first,
before either Polly or Jasper; and before Dr. Fisher quite knew how,
Phronsie was perched on the broad shoulder, and Tom was prancing up the
rocky path as easily as if a bird had lighted on his arm.

"She woke up, luckily," said little Dr. Fisher, "and she's bundled up
so there isn't a chance of her taking cold. Wife, this is grand!" He
gained her side, and drew her hand under the big shawl.

"You've come just in time," cried Polly, skipping around on her rock to
the imminent danger of falling on her nose, and varying the exercises
by cuddling Phronsie's toes, done up in a big bundle.

"I declare if Papa Fisher hasn't tied them up in one of the blankets,"
she announced merrily.

"A blanket is just as good as anything when the sunrise is waiting for
you," said the little doctor, coolly.

"Isn't it!" cried Polly, back at him, happily. "Oh - oh!"

Everybody echoed, "Oh-oh!" then stood hushed to silence. A rosy blush
spread from peak to peak, and all the shadows fell away. Everything
below, towns, villages, lakes, and forests, stood out in the clear cold
dawn, and at last the sun burst forth in all his glory.

"I'm so glad that people don't chatter," said Polly, when at last they
turned away, for the swift clouds had shut it all out. "Did you see
Phronsie's face, Jasper, when that light burst out?"

"Yes, and father's," answered Jasper. "I expect he'd been looking for
her; everybody is so bundled up you can hardly find your best friend.
And then he saw her."

"Yes, and she saw him and called him," said Polly, "didn't you hear
her?"

"Didn't I, though?" said Jasper; "who could help it? Wasn't father
pleased when he got up to us, Tom, to think you had Phronsie in such
good shape? Phronsie, you're in luck," pinching as much of her toes as
the bundle of blanket would allow; "you've got the best place of any of
us, up on that perch."

"I like it," said Phronsie, in grave delight, "very much, indeed,"
surveying them out of the depths of the shawl, "and I wish it needn't
stop."

"Well, it must," said Polly, with a sigh. "Dear me, see those people
run."

"Well, it's cold," said Jasper; "let's you and I race to the hotel,
Polly."

"And the show is over," said Tom, "why shouldn't they run?" as Jasper
and Polly set off, and he strode after, getting there nearly as soon.

An hour later, Polly, who couldn't get to sleep again, for a nap before
breakfast, went out to the little balcony window just outside her door,
where she might sit and write in her journal, and meantime catch any
chance view that the grey scudding clouds might afford. In this way she
strove to work off the impatience possessing her for the beautiful hour
to come after breakfast. "I can hardly believe it now," she thought,
and she gave herself a little pinch to see if she were really awake;
"it seems too good to be true to think that the great Professor
Bauricke is actually going to tell me how to learn to play well!"

"Say," a voice struck upon her ear, "oh, I'm in the most awful
distress."

Polly clapped her book to, and looked up.

"O dear, dear!" It was a tall, spare woman with a face that had
something about it like Grandma Bascom's. It must have been the
cap-frills flapping around her cheeks.

"What can I do for you?" asked Polly, springing up. "Oh, do take my
chair and sit down and tell me about it."

"Oh, will you help me? The land! I couldn't set when I'm in such
trouble," declared the old woman. "My senses, I should fly off the
handle!" Polly, feeling that she was in the presence of some dreadful
calamity, stood quite still. "You see, me and my sister - she's in
highstrikes now in there." The old woman tossed her head to indicate a
room further down the hall, whereat the cap-frills flapped wilder than
ever. "Bein' as it belonged to both of us, she feels as bad as I do,
but as I was the one that lost it, why it stands to reason I've got to
shake around and get it again. Say, will you help me? You've got a pair
of bright eyes as ever I see in a head; and what's the good of 'em if
you can't help in trouble like this?"

Polly, feeling that her eyes would never forgive her if she didn't let
them help on such an occasion, promised.

"What is it you have lost?" she asked.

"Don't you know?" cried the old woman, impatiently. "Mercy me! how many
times shall I tell you? My buzzom pin; it was took of Pa when he was a
young man and awful handsome, and I didn't want to leave it in the room
when we went out, cause somebody might get in, and they'd be sure to
want it, so I pinned it on my nightcap strings and it's gone, and I
a-gallivanting round on them rocks, a-looking at the sunrise, and I can
see that to home all I want to. I must have been crazy."

"Oh, I see; and you want me to go out and help you look for it," said
Polly, her brow clearing.

"Of course," assented the old woman, impatiently. "Land, your
intellects ain't as bright as your eyes. My sakes! - how many times do
you expect me to tell you? I've been a-looking and a-peeking
everywhere, but my eyes are old, and I don't dare to tell any one to
help me, for like enough they'd pick it up when I warn't seein', and
slip Pa in their pocket, and I never'd see him again."

Polly, feeling, if Pa were slipped in a pocket and carried off, it
would be a calamity indeed, said heartily, "I'll get my jacket and cap
and come right out."

"She looks honest; I guess I hain't done no harm to tell her about our
buzzom pin," said the old woman to herself as Polly disappeared. Mamsie
being asleep, Polly could say nothing to her, but feeling that she
would allow it if she knew, she threw on her things and ran out to meet
the old woman, with a shawl tied over her nightcap and a big long cape
on.

"I tell you she's in highstrikes," said the old woman, going down the
hall. "That's our room, 37, an' I've seen you an' your folks goin' by,
so I feel in some ways acquainted. An' if I don't find Pa, I'll be
flabbergasted myself."

"Do let us hurry," said Polly, her mind now only on Pa. So they went
down the stairs and out by the door and up the rocky path just where
the old woman said she and sister Car'line took when they went out to
see the sunrise.

"An' I wish we'd kept in bed," ejaculated Polly's companion. "I most
lost my teeth out, they chattered so; and so did Car'line hers. But
that wouldn't 'a' been nothin' to losin' Pa, cause we could 'a' got
more teeth; but how could we 'a' got him took when he was nineteen and
so handsome? There! here we stopped, just at this identical spot!"

"Well, I think we shall find it," said Polly, consolingly. "How did the
pin look?" she asked, for the first time remembering to ask, and
beginning to poke around in the crevices.

"My land sakes! I never see such a girl for wanting to be told over and
over," exclaimed the old woman, irritably, picking up first one ample
gaiter and then another to warm her cold toes in her hands. "Haven't I
told you he was awful handsome? Well, he had on his blue coat and big
brass buttons for one thing, an' his shirt front was ruffled. And - "

"Was it gold around it?" asked Polly, poking away busily.

"Gold? I guess it was; and there was dents in it, where Car'line an' I
bit into it when we were babies, 'cause mother give it to us when our
teeth was comin' - 'twas better'n a chicken bone, she said."

"Oh," said Polly.

"Well, now you know," said Car'line's sister, "an' don't for mercy's
sakes ask any more useless questions. I'm most sorry I brung you."

"I might go down and get the boys, Jasper and Tom - they'd love to
help," said Polly, feeling that she was very much out of place, and
there was no hope of finding Pa under the circumstances.

The old woman clutched her arm and held her fast. "Don't you say a
single word about any boys," she commanded. "I hate boys," she
exploded, "they're the worry of our lives, Car'line and mine, - they get
into our garden, and steal all our fruit, and they hang on behind our
chaise when we ride out, and keep me a-lookin' round an' slashin' the
whip at 'em the whole livelong time; O my - _boys!_"

"What in the world is Polly Pepper doing up on those rocks?" cried
Jasper, just spying her. "Come on, Tom, and let's see." And they seized
their caps, and buttoned their jackets against the wind which had just
sprung up, and dashed off to see for themselves.

"Ugh - you go right away!" screamed Car'line's sister, as their heads
appeared over the point of rocks, and shaking both hands fiercely at
them.

"Whew!" whistled Jasper, with his eyes in surprise on Polly.

"And what old party are you?" demanded Tom, finding it easy to talk to
her, as she was by no means a girl. "And do you own this mountain,
anyway?"

"Oh, don't," begged Polly. "And Jasper, if you would go away, please,
and not ask any questions."

"All right," said Jasper, swallowing his disappointment not to know.
"Come on, Tom, Polly doesn't want us here."

"An' I won't have you here," screamed the old woman, harder than ever.
"So get away as soon as you can. Why, you are boys!"

"I know it." Tom bobbed his head at her. "We've always been, ma'am."

"An' boys are good for nothing, an' lazy, an' thieves - yes, I wouldn't
trust 'em." So she kept on as they hurried back over the rocky path.

"That's a tiger for you!" ejaculated Tom. Then he stopped and looked
back a little anxiously. "Aren't you afraid to leave Polly with her?"

"No," said Jasper; "it would trouble Polly to have us stay." Yet he
stopped and looked anxious too. "We will wait here."

And after a while, down came the two searchers - the old woman quite
beside herself now, and scolding every bit of the way, - "that she
didn't see what bright eyes were for when they couldn't find
anything - an' now that Pa'd gone sliding down that mountain, they might
as well give up, she an' Car'line" - when a sudden turn in the path
brought the boys into view waiting behind the rocks. Then all her fury
burst upon them.

"See here, now," cried Tom, suddenly squaring up to her and looking at
the face between the nodding cap-frills, "we are ready to take a
certain amount of abuse, my friend and I, but we won't stand more, I
can tell you."

"Oh, don't," began Polly, clasping her hands. "Oh, Tom, _please_ keep
still. She doesn't know what she's saying, for she's lost her pin with
her father on."

"Hey?" cried Jasper. "Say it again, Polly," while Tom shouted and
roared all through Polly's recital.

"Was it an old fright with a long nose in a blue coat and ruffles, and
as big as a turnip?" he asked between the shouts. While Polly tried to
say, "Yes, I guess so," and Miss Car'line's sister so far overcame her
aversion to boys as to seize him by the arm, Tom shook her off like a
feather. "See here, old party," he cried, "that ancient pin of yours is
reposing in the hotel office at this blessed moment. Jasper and I,"
indicating his friend, "ran across it on the rocks up there more than
an hour ago, and - "

"Oh, Pa's found!" exclaimed the old woman, in a shrill scream of
delight, beginning to trot down to the hotel office.

"Yes, it would have been impossible for Pa to have got off this
mountain without making a landslide," said Tom, after her.




XXIII

IN THE SHADOW OF THE MATTERHORN


They had been days at dear Interlaken, walking up and down the
_Hoheweg_, of which they never tired, or resting on the benches under
the plane and walnut trees opposite their hotel, just sitting still to
gaze their fill upon the _Jungfrau_. This was best of all - so Polly and
Jasper thought; and Phronsie was content to pass hour after hour there,
by Grandpapa's side, and imagine all sorts of pretty pictures and
stories in and about the snow-clad heights of the majestic mountain.

And the throng of gaily dressed people sojourning in the big hotels,
and the stream of tourists, passed and repassed, with many a curious
glance at the stately, white-haired old gentleman and the little
yellow-haired girl by his side.

"A perfect beauty!" exclaimed more than one matron, with a sigh for her
ugly girls by her side or left at home.

"She's stunning, and no mistake!" Many a connoisseur in feminine
loveliness turned for a last look, or passed again for the same purpose.

"Grandpapa," Phronsie prattled on, "that looks just like a little tent
up there - a little white tent; doesn't it, Grandpapa dear?"

"Yes, Phronsie," said Grandpapa, happily, just as he would have said
"Yes, Phronsie," if she had pointed out any other object in the snowy
outline.

"And there's a cunning little place where you and I could creep into
the tent," said Phronsie, bending her neck like a meditative bird. "And
I very much wish we could, Grandpapa dear."

"We'd find it pretty cold in there," said Grandpapa, "and wish we were
back here on this nice seat, Phronsie."

"What makes it so cold up there, Grandpapa, when the sun shines?" asked
Phronsie, suddenly. "Say, Grandpapa, what makes it?"

"Oh, it's so far up in the air," answered old Mr. King. "Don't you
remember how cold it was up on the Rigi, and that was about nine
thousand feet lower?"

"Oh, Grandpapa!" exclaimed Phronsie, in gentle surprise, unable to
compass such figures.

Mr. King's party had made one or two pleasant little journeys to the
Lauterbrunnen Valley, staying there and at MГјrren, and to Grindelwald
as well; but they came back to sit on the benches by the walnut and the
plane trees, in front of the matchless Jungfrau. "And this is best of
all," said Polly.

And so the days slipped by, till one morning, at the breakfast table,
Mrs. Selwyn said, "Tomorrow we must say good-by - my boy and I."

"Hey - what?" exclaimed Mr. King, setting his coffee-cup down, not very
gently.

"Our vacation cannot be a very long one," said Tom's mother, with a
little smile; "there are my father and my two daughters and my other
boys in England."

Tom's face was all awry as Mr. King said, "And you mean to say, Mrs.
Selwyn, that you really must move on to-morrow?"

"Yes; we really must," she said decidedly. "But oh," and her plain,
quiet face changed swiftly, "you cannot know how sorry we shall be to
leave your party."

"In that case, Mrs. Fisher," - old Mr. King looked down the table-length
to Mamsie, - "we must go too; for I don't intend to lose sight of these
nice travelling companions until I am obliged to." Tom's face was one
big smile. "Oh, goody!" exclaimed Polly, as if she were no older than
Phronsie.

Jasper clapped Tom's back, instead of wasting words.

"So we will all proceed to pack up without more ado after breakfast.
After all, it is wiser to make the move now, for we are getting so that
we want to take root in each place."

"You just wait till you get to Zermatt," whispered Polly to Phronsie,
who, under cover of the talk buzzing around the table, had confided to
her that she didn't want to leave her beautiful mountain. "Grandpapa is
going to take us up to the Gorner Grat, and there you can see another
mountain, - oh, so near! he says it seems almost as if you could touch
it. And it's all covered with snow, Phronsie, too!"

"Is it as big as my mountain here?" asked Phronsie.

"Yes, bigger, a thousand feet or more," answered Polly, glad that she
had looked it up.

"Is it?" said Phronsie. "Every mountain is bigger, isn't it, Polly?"

"It seems to be," said Polly, with a little laugh.

"And has it a little white tent on the side, just like my mountain
here?" asked Phronsie, holding Polly's arm as she turned off to catch
the chatter of the others.

"Oh, I suppose so," answered Polly, carelessly. Then she looked up and
caught Mamsie's eye, and turned back quickly. "At any rate, Phronsie,
it's all peaked on the top - oh, almost as sharp as a needle - and it
seems to stick right into the blue sky, and there are lots and lots of
other mountains - oh, awfully high, - and the sun shines up there a good
deal, and it's too perfectly lovely for anything, Phronsie Pepper."

"Then I want to go," decided Phronsie. "I do so want to see that white
needle, Polly."

"Well, eat your breakfast," said Polly, "because you know we all have
ever so much to do to-day to get off."

"Yes, I will," declared Phronsie, attacking her cold chicken and roll
with great vigour.

"It seems as if the whole world were at Zermatt," said the parson,
looking out from the big piazza crowded with the hotel people, out to
the road in front, with every imaginable tourist passing and repassing.
Donkeys were being driven up, either loaded down to their utmost with
heavy bags and trunks, or else waiting to receive on their patient
backs the heavier people. Phronsie never could see the poor animals,
without such distress coming in her face that every one in the party
considered it his or her bounden duty to comfort and reassure her. So
this time it was Tom's turn to do so.

"Oh, don't you worry," he said, looking down into her troubled little
face where he sat on the piazza railing swinging his long legs, "they
like it, those donkeys do!"

"Do they?" asked Phronsie, doubtfully.

"Yes, indeed," said Tom, with a gusto, as if he wished he were a
donkey, and in just that very spot, "it gives them a chance to see
things, and to hear things, too, don't you know?" went on Tom, at his
wits' end to know how he was going to come out of his sentences.

"Oh," said Phronsie, yet she sighed as she saw the extremely fat person
just being hauled up to a position on a very small donkey's back.

"You see, if they don't like it," said Tom, digging his knife savagely
into the railing, "they have a chance to kick up their heels and
unsettle that heavy party."

"O dear me!" exclaimed Phronsie, in great distress, "that would hurt
the poor woman, Tom."

"Well, it shows that the donkey likes it," said Tom, with a laugh,
"because he doesn't kick up his heels."

"And so," ran on Tom, "why, we mustn't worry, you and I, if the donkey
doesn't. Just think," - he made a fine diversion by pointing with his
knife-blade up to the slender spire of the Matterhorn - "we're going up
on a little jaunt to-morrow, to look into that fellow's face."

Phronsie got out of her chair to come and stand by his side. "I like
that white needle," she said, with a gleeful smile. "Polly said it was
nice, and I like it."

"I should say it was," declared Tom, with a bob of his head. "Phronsie,
I'd give, I don't know what, if I could climb up there." He thrust his
knife once more into the railing, where it stuck fast.

"Don't." begged Phronsie, her hand on his sleeve, "go up that big white
needle, Tom."

"No, I won't; it's safe to promise that," he said grimly, with a little
laugh. "Good reason why; because I can't. The little mother wouldn't
sleep nights just to think of it, and I promised the granddaddy that I
wouldn't so much as think of it, and here I am breaking my word; but I
can't help it." He twitched his knife out suddenly, sprawled off from
the railing, and took several hasty strides up and down the piazza.

"Well, that's all right, Phronsie," he said, coming back to get astride
the railing again; this time he turned a cold shoulder on Phronsie's
"white needle." "Now, to-morrow, we'll have no end of fun." And he
launched forth on so many and so varied delights, that Phronsie's
pleased little laugh rang out again and again, bringing rest to many a
wearied traveller, tired with the sights, sounds, and scenes of a
European journey.

"I wish we could stay at this nice place," said Phronsie, the next
morning, poking her head out over the side of the car, as it climbed
off from the Riffelalp station.

"Take care, child," said Grandpapa, with a restraining hand.

"You would want to stop at every place," said Polly, from the seat in
front, with a gay little laugh. "And we never should get on at that
rate. But then I am just as bad," she confessed.

"So am I," chimed in Jasper. "Dear me, how I wanted to get a chance to
sketch some of those magnificent curves and rapids and falls in the
Visp River coming up."

"Oh, that dear, delicious Visp River!" echoed Polly, while Adela began
to bemoan that it was the best thing they had seen, and the car whizzed
them by so fast, she couldn't do a thing - O dear!

"I got some snap-shots, but I don't believe they are good for
anything," said Jasper, "just from the pure perversity of the thing."

"Take my advice," said Tom, lazily leaning forward, "and don't bother
with a camera anyway."

"As if you expected any one to take up with such a piece of advice,"


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryMargaret SidneyFive Little Peppers Abroad → online text (page 14 of 19)