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with a little laugh, "Oh, isn't this too lovely for anything!" she
cried, with sparkling eyes.

"Well, don't let him," cried Adela, huddling up on her donkey, and
pulling at the rein to make him creep closer to the protecting earth
wall.

"Na - na," one of the guides ran up to her, shaking his head. Adela,
fresh from her Paris school had all her French, of the best kind too,
at her tongue's end, but she seemed to get on no better than Mr. King.

"My French is just bad enough to be useful," laughed Jasper. So he
untangled the trouble again, and made Adela see that she really must
not pull at her bridle, but allow the donkey to go his own gait, for
they were all trained to it.

"Your French is just beautiful," cried Polly. "Oh, Jasper, you know
Monsieur always says - "

"Don't, Polly," begged Jasper, in great distress.

"No, I won't," promised Polly, "and I didn't mean to. But I couldn't
help it, Jasper, when you spoke against your beautiful French."

"We've all heard you talk French, Jasper, so you needn't feel so cut up
if Polly should quote your Monsieur," cried Tom, who, strange to say,
no matter how far he chanced to ride in the rear, always managed to
hear everything.

"That's because we are everlastingly turning a corner," he explained,
when they twitted him for it, "and as I'm near the end of the line I
get the benefit of the doubling and twisting, for the front is always
just above me. So don't say anything you don't want me to hear, old
fellow," he sang out to Jasper on the bridle path "just above," as Tom
had said.

"Now, don't you want to get off?" cried Jasper, deserting his donkey,
and running up to Phronsie, as they reached the summit and drew up
before the hotel.

"Oh, somebody take that child off," groaned old Mr. King, accepting the
arm of the guide to help him dismount, "for I can't. Every separate and
distinct bone in my body protests against donkeys from this time forth
and forevermore. And yet I've got to go down on one," he added ruefully.

"No, I don't want to get down," declared Phronsie, still holding fast
to the reins; "can't I sit on my donkey, Jasper, while you all walk
over on the frozen water?"

"Oh, my goodness, no!" gasped Jasper. "Why, Phronsie, you'd be tired to
death - the very idea, child!"

"No," said Phronsie, shaking her yellow hair obstinately, "I wouldn't
be tired one single bit, Jasper. And I don't want to get down from my
donkey."

"Well, if you didn't go over the _Mer de Glace_, why, we couldn't any
of us go," said Jasper, at his wits' end how to manage it without
worrying his father, already extremely tired, he could see, "and that's
what we've come up for - "

Phronsie dropped the reins. "Take me down, please, Jasper," she said,
putting out her arms.

"How are you now, father?" cried Jasper, running over to him when he
had set Phronsie on the ground.

"It's astonishing," said old Mr. King, stretching his shapely limbs,
"but all that dreadful sensation I always have after riding on one of
those atrocious animals is disappearing fast."

"That's good," cried Jasper, in delight. "Well, I suppose we are all
going to wait a bit?" he asked, and longing to begin the tramp over the
_Mer de Glace_.

"Wait? Yes, indeed, every blessed one of us," declared his father.
"Goodness me, Jasper, what are you thinking of to ask such a question,
after this pull up here? Why, we sha'n't stir from this place for an
hour."

"I supposed we'd have to wait," said Jasper, rushing off over the
rocks, feeling how good it was to get down on one's feet again, and run
and race. And getting Polly and Tom and Adela, they ran down where the
donkeys were tethered and saw them fed, and did a lot of exploring; and
it didn't seem any time before an Alpine horn sounded above their
heads, and there was Grandpapa, tooting away and calling them to come
up and buy their woollen socks; for they were going to start.

So they scrambled up, and picked out their socks, and, each seizing a
pair in one hand and an alpenstock with a long, sharp spike on the end
in the other, they ran off down the zigzag path to the glacier, two or
three guides helping the others along. At the foot of the rocky path
the four drew up.

"O dear, it's time to put on these horrible old stockings," grumbled
Adela, shaking hers discontentedly.

"'Good old stockings,' you'd much better say," broke in Jasper.

"They're better than a broken neck," observed Tom, just meaning to ask
Polly if he could put hers on for her. But he was too slow in getting
at it, and Jasper was already kneeling on the rocks and doing that very
thing.

"Now I'm all ready," announced Polly, stamping her feet, arrayed in
marvellous red-and-white striped affairs. "Thank you, Jasper. Oh, how
funny they feel!"

"Shall I help you?" asked Tom, awkwardly enough, of Adela.

"Oh, I don't want them on, and I don't mean to wear them," said Adela,
with a sudden twist. "I'm going to throw them away."

"Then you'll just have to stay back," said Jasper, decidedly, "for no
one is to be allowed on that glacier who doesn't put on a pair."

"I won't slip - the idea!" grumbled Adela. Yet she stuck out her foot,
and Tom, getting down on his knees, suppressed a whistle as he securely
tied them on. Then the boys flew into theirs instanter.

"Mine are blue," said Phronsie, as the others filed slowly down the
winding path between the rocks, and she pointed to the pair dangling
across her arm. "I am so very glad they are blue, Grandpapa."

"So am I, Pet," he cried, delighted to find that he was apparently as
agile as the parson. No one could hope to equal little Dr. Fisher, who
was here, there, and everywhere, skipping about among the rocks like a
boy let loose from school.

"Well, well, the children are all ready," exclaimed old Mr. King,
coming upon the four, impatient to begin their icy walk.

"Didn't you expect it?" cried little Dr. Fisher, skipping up.

"Well, to say the truth, I did," answered old Mr. King, with a laugh.
"Now, Phronsie, sit down on that rock, and let the guide tie on your
stockings." So Phronsie's little blue stockings were tied on, and after
Grandpapa had gallantly seen that everybody else was served, he had his
pulled on over his boots and fastened securely, and the line of march
was taken up.

"You go ahead, father," begged Jasper, "and we'll all follow."

So old Mr. King, with Phronsie and a guide on her farther side, led the
way, and the red stockings and the brown and the black, and some of
indescribable hue, moved off upon the _Mer de Glace_.

"It's dreadfully dirty," said Adela, turning up her nose. "I thought a
glacier was white when you got up to it."

"Oh, I think it is lovely!" cried Polly; "and that green down in the
crevasse - look, Adela!"

"It's a dirty green," persisted Adela, whose artistic sense wouldn't be
satisfied. "O dear me!" as her foot slipped and she clutched Mrs.
Henderson, who happened to be next.

"Now, how about the woollen stockings?" asked Tom, while Polly and
Jasper both sang out, "Take care," and "Go slowly."

Adela didn't answer, but stuck the sharp end of her alpenstock smartly
into the ice.

"Something is the matter with my stocking," at last said the parson's
wife, stopping and holding out her right foot.

The guide nearest her stopped, too, and kneeling down on the ice, he
pulled it into place, for it had slipped half off.

"Now be very careful," warned Grandpapa, "and don't venture too near
the edge," as he paused with Phronsie and the guide. The others, coming
up, looked down into a round, green pool of water that seemed to stare
up at them, as if to say, "I am of unknown depth, so beware of me."

"That gives me the 'creeps,' Polly, as you say," Mrs. Henderson
observed. "Dear me, I shall never forget how that green water looks;"
and she shivered and edged off farther yet. "Supposing any one _should_
fall in!"

"Well, he'd go down right straight through the globe, seems to me,"
said Tom, with a last look at the pool as they turned off, "It looks as
if it had no end, till one would fetch up on the other side."

"I love to hop over these little crevasses," said Polly, and suiting
the action to the word.

"Something is the matter with my stocking again," announced Mrs.
Henderson to the guide, presently. "I am sorry to trouble you, but it
needs to be fixed."

He didn't understand the words, but there was no mistaking the foot
thrust out with the woollen sock, now wet and sodden, half off again.
So he kneeled down and pulled it on once more.

Before they reached the other side, the parson's wife had had that
stocking pulled on six times, until at last, the guide, finding no more
pleasure in a repetition of the performance, took a string from his
pocket, and bunching up in his fist a good portion of the stocking
heel, he wound the string around it and tied it fast, cut off the
string, and returned the rest to his pocket.

"Why do you tie up the heel?" queried Mrs. Henderson. "I should think
it much better to secure it in front." But he didn't understand, and
the rest were quite a good bit in advance, and hating to give trouble,
she went on, the stocking heel sticking out a few inches. But she kept
it on her foot, so that might be called a success.

The little Widow Gray was not going over the _Mauvais Pas_, neither was
Mrs. Selwyn, as she had traversed it twice before. So, on reaching the
other side, they were just about bidding good-by to the others, when,
without a bit of warning, the parson's wife, in turning around, fell
flat, and disappeared to the view of some of them behind a boulder of
ice.

All was confusion in an instant. The guides rushed - everybody
rushed - pellmell to the rescue; Tom's long legs, as usual, getting him
there first. There she was in a heap, in a depression of ice and snow
and water.

"I'm all right, except" - and she couldn't help a grimace of pain - "my
foot."

The little doctor swept them all to one side, as they seated her on one
of the boulders of ice. "Humph! I should think likely," at sight of the
tied-up stocking heel. "You stepped on that, and it flung you straight
as a die and turned your foot completely over."

"Yes," said Mrs. Henderson. Then she saw the guide who had tied the
stocking looking on with a face of great concern. "Oh, don't say
anything, it makes him feel badly," she mumbled, wishing her foot
wouldn't ache so.

Little Dr. Fisher was rapidly untying the unlucky stocking; and,
whipping off the boot, he soon made sure that no ligaments were broken.
Then he put on the boot and the woollen sock, being careful to tie it
in front over the instep, and whipping out his big handkerchief he
proceeded to bandage the ankle in a truly scientific way. "Now, then,
Mrs. Henderson, you are all right to take the walk slowly back to the
hotel."

Parson Henderson took his wife's hand. "Come, Sarah," he said, gently
helping her up.

"Oh, you are going over the _Mauvais Pas_," she cried in distress at
the thought of his missing it.

"Come, Sarah," he said gently, keeping her hand in his.

"I'll go back with her too," said little Dr. Fisher.

"Oh, Adoniram!" exclaimed his wife, but it was under her breath, and no
one heard the exclamation.

"I think Dr. Fisher ought to go with the other party; he will be needed
there," Mrs. Selwyn was saying, in her quiet way. "And I will bathe
Mrs. Henderson's foot just as he says it should be done, so good-by,"
and any one looking down with a field glass from the Montanvert hotel,
could have seen at this point, two parties, one proceeding to the
_Mauvais Pas_ and the _Chapeau_, and the other of three ladies, the
parson and a guide, wending their way slowly on the return across the
crevasses.




XXVI

"WELL, HERE WE ARE IN PARIS!"


Notwithstanding all the glory of the shops, and the tempting array of
the jewellery and trinkets of every description therein displayed,
after a few days of sailing on the exquisite lake, and some walks and
drives, Polly, down deep in her heart, was quite ready to move on from
Geneva. And, although she didn't say anything, old Mr. King guessed as
much, and broke out suddenly, "Well, are you ready to start, Polly?"

"Yes, Grandpapa," she answered. "I have the presents for the girls. I'm
all ready."

"Why, Polly, you haven't anything for yourself," Mother Fisher
exclaimed, as Polly ran into her room and told the news - how Grandpapa
said they were to pack up and leave in the morning. "You haven't bought
a single thing."

"Oh, I don't want anything," said Polly. "I've so many things at home
that Grandpapa has given me. Mamsie, isn't this pin for Alexia just too
lovely for anything?"

She curled up on the end of the bed, and drew it out of its little box.
"I think she'll like it," with anxious eyes on Mother Fisher's face.

"Like it?" repeated her mother. "How can she help it, Polly?"

"I think so too," said Polly, happily, replacing it on the bed of
cotton, and putting on the cover to look over another gift.

Mrs. Fisher regarded her keenly. "Well, now, Polly," she said,
decidedly, "I shall go down and get that chain we were looking at. For
you do need that, and your father and I are going to give it to you."

"Oh, Mamsie," protested Polly, "I don't need it; really, I don't."

"Well, we shall give it to you," said Mother Fisher. Then she went over
to the bed and dropped a kiss on Polly's brown hair.

"Mamsie," exclaimed Polly, springing off the bed, and throwing her arms
around her mother's neck, "I shall love that chain, and I shall wear it
just all the time because you and Papa-Doctor gave it to me."

When they neared Paris, Adela drew herself up in her corner of the
compartment. "I expect you'll stare some when you get to Paris, Polly
Pepper."

"I've been staring all the time since we started on our journey, Adela,
as hard as I could," said Polly, laughing.

"Well, you'll stare worse than ever now," said Adela, in an important
way. "There isn't anything in all this world that isn't in Paris," she
brought up, not very elegantly.

"I don't like Paris." Tom let the words out before he thought.

"That's just because you are a boy," sniffed Adela. "Oh, Polly, you
ought to see the shops! When Mademoiselle has taken us into some, I
declare I could stay all day in one. Such dreams of clothes and
bonnets! You never saw such bonnets, Polly Pepper, in all your life!"
She lifted her hands, unable to find words enough.

"And the parks and gardens, I suppose, are perfectly lovely," cried
Polly, feeling as if she must get away from the bonnets and clothes.

"Yes, and the Bois de Boulogne to drive in, that's elegant. Only
Mademoiselle won't take us there very often. I wish I was rich, and I'd
have a span of long-tailed, grey horses, and drive up and down there
every day."

Polly laughed. "Well, I should like the tram-ways and the stages," said
Polly.

"Oh, those don't go into the Bois de Boulogne," cried Adela, in a tone
of horror. "Why, Polly Pepper, what are you thinking of?" she exclaimed.

This nettled Tom. "Of something besides clothes and bonnets," he broke
out. Then he was sorry he had spoken.

"Well, there's the Louvre," said Polly, after an uncomfortable little
pause.

"Yes," said Adela, "that's best of all, and it doesn't cost anything;
so Mademoiselle takes us there very often."

"I should think it would be," cried Polly, beaming at her, and
answering the first part of Adela's sentence. "Oh, Adela, I do so long
to see it."

"And you can't go there too often, Polly," said Jasper.

"It's the only decent thing in Paris," said Tom, "that I like, I mean;
that, and to sail up and down on the Seine."

"We'll go there the first day, Polly," said Jasper, "the Louvre, I
mean. Well, here we are in Paris!" And then it was all confusion, for
the guards were throwing open the doors to the compartments, and
streams of people were meeting on the platform, in what seemed to be
inextricable confusion amid a babel of sounds. And it wasn't until
Polly was driving up in the big cab with her part of Mr. King's
"family," as he called it, through the broad avenues and boulevards,
interspersed with occasional squares and gardens, and the beautiful
bridges here and there across the Seine, gleaming in the sunshine, that
she could realise that they were actually in Paris.

And the next day they did go to the Louvre. And Adela, who was to stay
a day or two at the hotel with them before going back into her school,
was very important, indeed. And she piloted them about, the parson and
Mrs. Henderson joining their group; the others, with the exception of
the little Widow Gray, who stayed at home to look over Adela's clothes,
and take any last stitches, going off by themselves.

"I do want to see the Venus de Milo," said Polly, quite gone with
impatience. "Oh, Adela, these paintings will wait."

"Well, that old statue will wait, too," cried Adela, pulling her off
into another gallery. "Now, Polly, Mademoiselle says, in point of art,
the pictures in here are quite important."

"Are they?" said poor Polly, listlessly.

"Yes, they are," said Adela, twitching her sleeve, "and Mademoiselle
brings us in this room every single time we come to the Louvre."

"It's the early French school, you know," she brought up glibly.

"Well, it's too early for us to take it in," said Tom. "Come, I'm for
the Venus de Milo. It's this way;" and Adela was forced to follow,
which she did in a discontented fashion.

"Oh!" cried Polly, catching her breath, and standing quite still as she
caught sight of the wonderful marble, instinct with life, at the end of
the long corridor below stairs. "Why, she's smiling at us," as the
afternoon sunshine streamed across the lovely face, to lose itself in
the folds of the crimson curtain in the background.

The parson folded his arms and drew in long breaths of delight. "It's
worth fifty journeys over the ocean to once see that, Sarah," he said.

"Do come back and look at the pictures," begged Adela, pulling Polly's
arm again after a minute or two.

"Oh, don't!" exclaimed Polly, under her breath. "Oh, she's _so_
beautiful, Adela!"

"Well, it's much better to see the pictures," said Adela. "And then we
can come here again to-morrow."

"Oh, I haven't seen this half enough," began Polly, "and I've wanted to
for so long." Then she glanced at Adela's face. "Well, all right," she
said, and turned off, to come directly into the path of Grandpapa, with
Phronsie clinging to his hand, and the rest of his part of the "family"
standing in silent admiration.

"We thought we'd come here first," said old Mr. King. "I don't mean to
see anything else to-day. The Venus de Milo is quite enough for me.
To-morrow, now, we'll drop in again, and look at some of the pictures."

"There is beauty enough in that statue," said a lady, who just passed
them, to the gentleman with her, "to satisfy any one; but living beauty
after all is most appealing. Just look at that child's face, Edward."

They were guilty of standing in a niche at a little remove, and
studying Phronsie with keen, critical eyes.

"It's a wonderful type of beauty," said Edward; "yellow hair and brown
eyes, - and such features."

"I don't care about the features," said the lady, "it's the expression;
the child hasn't a thought of herself, and that's wonderful to begin
with."

"That's about it," replied Edward, "and I suppose that's largely where
the beauty lies, Evelyn."

"Let us walk slowly down the corridor again," said Evelyn, "and then
come up; otherwise we shall attract attention to be standing here and
gazing at them."

"And I'd like to see that little beauty again," remarked Edward, "I'll
confess, Evelyn."

So Evelyn and Edward continued to gaze at intervals at the living
beauty, and Mr. King and his party were absorbed in the marble beauty;
and Adela was running over in her mind how she meant to have Polly
Pepper all to herself at the visit to the Louvre the next afternoon,
when she would show her the pictures she specially liked.

But they didn't any of them go to the Louvre that next day, as it
happened. It was so beautifully bright and sunshiny, that Grandpapa
said it would be wicked to pass the day indoors; so they had all the
morning in a walk, and a sail on the Seine, - and that pleased Tom, - and
all the afternoon, or nearly all, sitting up in state in carriages,
driving up and down the Bois de Boulogne. And _that_ pleased Adela.

And when they tired of driving, old Mr. King gave orders for the
drivers to rest their horses. And then they all got out of the
carriages, and walked about among the beautiful trees, and on the
winding, sheltered paths.

"It's perfectly lovely off there," said Polly, "and almost like the
country," with a longing glance off into the green, cool shade beyond.
So they strolled off there, separating into little groups; Polly and
Jasper in front, and wishing for nothing so much as a race.

"I should think we might try it," said Jasper; "there is no one near to
see. Come on, Polly, do."

"I suppose we ought not to," said Polly, with a sigh, as Adela overtook
them.

"Ought not to what?" she asked eagerly.

"Jasper and I were wanting to run a race," said Polly.

"Why, Polly Pepper! You are in Paris!" exclaimed Adela, quite shocked.

"I know it," said Polly, "and I wish we weren't. O dear! this seems
just like the country, and - "

Just then a child screamed. "That's Phronsie!" exclaimed Polly, her
cheek turning quite white. And she sped back over the path.

"Oh, no, Polly," Jasper tried to reassure her, as he ran after her.
They were having their race, after all, but in a different way from
what they had planned.

"Dear me! you are running!" said Adela, who hadn't got it into her head
what for, as she didn't connect the scream with any of their party. And
she walked just as fast as she could to catch up with them. As that was
impossible, she gave a hasty glance around the shrubbery, and seeing no
one to notice her, she broke out into a lively run.

"Yes, Phronsie," Grandpapa was saying, as the young people had left
them, and the others had wandered off to enjoy the quiet, shady paths,
"this place was the old F√іret de Rouvray. It wasn't a very pretty place
to come to in those days, what with the robbers and other bad people
who infested it. And now let us go and find a seat, child, and I'll
show you one or two little pictures I picked up in the shop this
morning; and you can send them in your next letter, to Joel and David,
if you like."

Old Mr. King took out his pocket-book, and had just opened it, when a
man darted out from the thick shrubbery behind him, cast a long,
searching glance around, and quick as lightning, threw himself against
the stately old gentleman, and seized the pocket-book.

It was then that Phronsie screamed long and loud.

"What ho!" exclaimed Mr. King, starting around to do battle; but the
man was just disappearing around the clump of shrubbery.

"Which way?" Tom Selwyn dashed up. It didn't seem as if Phronsie's cry
had died on her lips.

Old Mr. King pointed without a word. And Polly and Jasper were close at
hand. Polly flew to Phronsie, who was clinging to Grandpapa's hand, and
wailing bitterly. "What is it? Oh! what is it?" cried Polly.

"My pocket-book," said Grandpapa; "some fellow has seized it, and
frightened this poor child almost to death." He seemed to care a great
deal more about that than any loss of the money.

"Which way?" cried Jasper, in his turn, and was off like a shot on
getting his answer.

Tom saw the fellow slink with the manner of one who knew the ins and
outs of the place well, - now gliding, and ducking low in the sparser
growth, now making a bold run around some exposed curve, now dashing
into a dense part of the wood.

"I'll have you yet!" said Tom, through set teeth; "I haven't trained at
school for nothing!"

A thud of fast-flying feet in his rear didn't divert him an instant
from his game, although it might be a rescue party for the thief, in
the shape of a partner, - who could tell? And realising, if he caught
the man at all, he must do one of his sprints, he covered the ground by
a series of flying leaps, - dashed in where he saw his prey rush; one
more leap with all his might, and - "I have you!" cried Tom.

The man under him, thrown to the ground by the suddenness of Tom's leap
on him, was wriggling and squirming with all the desperation of a
trapped creature, when the individual with the flying footsteps hove in
sight. It was Jasper. And they had just persuaded the robber that it
would be useless to struggle longer against his fate, when the parson,


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Online LibraryMargaret SidneyFive Little Peppers Abroad → online text (page 17 of 19)