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their luggage, and everything was in confusion at once on the platforms.

"Indeed, you won't, Miss Polly," declared Mr. King, overhearing it, as
they waited till all was ready for them to get into the hotel
coach, - "we are all going to spend this day at the hotel - first, in
getting a good breakfast, and then, dear me, I shall sleep pretty much
all of the morning, and I'd advise the rest of you to jump into your
beds and get good naps after the experience on that atrocious steamboat
last night."

"Oh, Grandpapa, must we really go to bed?" cried Polly, in horror at
the mere thought.

"Well, not exactly into your beds," laughed Mr. King, as Jasper,
announcing that all was ready, piloted them into the coach, "but you've
got to rest like sensible beings. Make up your mind to that. As for
Phronsie," and he gallantly lifted her up to the step, "she's half
asleep already. She's got to have a splendid nap, and no mistake."

"I'm not sleepy," declared Phronsie, stumbling into the high coach to
sit down next to Mother Fisher. "No, Grandpapa dear, not a bit." And
before anybody knew it, and as soon as the coach wheels spun round, she
rolled over into Mamsie's lap. There she was as fast asleep as could be!




VIII

"WE WILL COME AGAIN AND STAY A WEEK"


They had been several days at The Hague, running about in a restful way
in the morning, and driving all the long golden afternoons. "Don't you
dare to go into a picture-gallery or a museum until I give the word,"
Grandpapa had laid down the law. "I'm not going to begin by being all
tired out." So Polly and Jasper had gone sometimes with Mr. King and
Phronsie, who had a habit of wandering off by themselves; or, as the
case might be, Mr. Henderson would pilot them about till they learnt
the ways of the old town. And Mrs. Fisher and Mrs. Henderson would
confess now and then that they would much rather take a few stitches
and overlook the travelling clothes than do any more sight-seeing. And
then again, they would all come together and go about in a big party.
All but Dr. Fisher - he was for hospitals every time.

"That's what I've come for, wife," he would reply to all remonstrance,
"and don't ask me to put my head into a cathedral or a museum." To Mr.
King, "Land alive, man, I've got to find out how to take care of living
bodies before I stare at bones and relics," and Mr. King would laugh
and let him alone. "He's incorrigible, that husband of yours, Mrs.
Fisher," he would add, "and we must just let him have his way." And
Mamsie would smile, and every night the little doctor would tome from
his tramps and medical study, tired but radiant.

At last one morning Grandpapa said, "Now for Scheveningen to-day!"

"Oh, goody!" cried Polly, clapping her hands; then blushed as red as a
rose. They were at breakfast, and everybody in the vicinity turned and
stared at their table.

"Don't mind it, Polly," said Jasper, her next neighbour, "I want to do
the same thing. And it will do some of those starched and prim people
good to hear a little enthusiasm." Polly knew whom he meant, - some
young Englishmen. One of them immediately put up his monocle and
regarded her as if she had been a new kind of creature displayed for
his benefit. Jasper glared back at him.

"Yes, we'll go to Scheveningen this morning," repeated Mr. King,
smiling approvingly at poor Polly, which caused her to lift her head;
"the carriages are ordered, so as soon as we are through breakfast we
will be off."

"Oh, father," exclaimed Jasper, in dismay, "must we go in carriages?"

"How else would you go, Jasper?" asked his father.

"Oh, by the tramway; oh, by all means," cried Jasper, perfectly
delighted that he could get his father even to listen to any other plan.

"The dirty tram-cars," ejaculated Mr. King, in disgust. "How can you
ask it, Jasper? No, indeed, we must go in carriages, or not at all."

"But, father," and Jasper's face fell, "don't you see the upper deck of
the tram-car is so high and there are fine seats there, and we can see
so much better than driving in a stupid carriage?"

Polly's face had drooped, too. Mr. King, in looking from one to the
other, was dismayed and a good bit annoyed to find that his plan wasn't
productive of much happiness after all. He had just opened his mouth to
say authoritatively, "No use, Jasper, either you will go in the way I
have provided, or stay at home," when Phronsie slipped out of her chair
where she happened this morning to be sitting next to Mother Fisher,
and running around to his chair, piped out, "Oh, Grandpapa, if you
please, do let us sit up top."

"We'll do it now, Polly," whispered Jasper, in a transport, "when
Phronsie looks like that. See her face!"

"Do you really want to go in a dirty old tram-car, Phronsie, instead of
in a carriage?" Old Mr. King pushed back his chair and looked steadily
at her.

"Oh, yes, yes, Grandpapa, please" - Phronsie beat her hands softly
together - "to ride on top; may we, _dear_ Grandpapa?" That "dear
Grandpapa" settled it. Jasper never heard such a welcome command as
that Mr. King was just issuing. "Go to the office and countermand the
order for the carriages, my son; tell them to put the amount on my
bill, the same as if I'd used them, unless they get a chance to let
them to some one else. They needn't be the losers. Now then," as Jasper
bounded off to execute the command, "get on your bonnets and hats, all
of you, and we'll try this wonderful tram-car. I suppose you won't come
with us, but will stay behind for the pleasures of some hospital here,"
he added to Dr. Fisher.

"On the contrary," said the little doctor, throwing down his napkin and
getting out of his chair. "I am going, for there is a marine hospital
for children there, that I wouldn't miss for the world."

"I warrant you would find one on a desert island," retorted old Mr.
King. "Well, hurry now, all of you - and we will be off."

"Now, then, all scramble up here. Phronsie, you go with me," cried old
Mr. King, as they stood in _plein_, and the tram-car halted before
them. He was surprised to find that he liked this sort of thing, mixing
with a crowd and hurrying for seats just like common ordinary
individuals. And as he toiled up the winding stairs, Phronsie in front
of him, he had an exhilaration already that made him feel almost as
young as Polly and Jasper, scampering up the circular stairway at the
other end. "Well, bless me, we are up, aren't we?" he exclaimed,
sitting down and casting a glance around.

"Did you ever see anything so fascinating?" cried Polly Pepper,
clasping her hands in delight, and not stopping to sit down, but
looking all around.

"You had better sit down," advised Mother Fisher, "else when the car
starts you may go over the railing."

"Oh, I can't fall, Mamsie," said Polly, carelessly, yet she sat down,
while Jasper got out of his seat and ran up to old Mr. King.

"Now, father, don't you like it?" he cried. "And isn't it better than a
stuffy old carriage?"

"Yes, I do, my boy," answered his father, frankly. "Now run off with
you, you've planned it well." So Jasper, made happy for the day, rushed
back to his seat. A hand not over clean was laid on it, and a tall
individual, who was pouring out very bad provincial French at a fearful
rate, was just about to worm himself into it. Polly, who sat next, had
turned around to view the scenery from the other side, and hadn't seen
his advance.

"Excuse me," said Jasper, in another torrent of the same language, only
of a better quality, "this is my seat - I only left it to speak to my
father."

But the Frenchman being there, thought that he could get still further
into the seat. So he twisted and edged, but Jasper slipped neatly in,
and looked calmly up at him. The Frenchman, unable to get his balance,
sat down in Jasper's lap. But he bounded up again, blue with rage.

"What's all this?" demanded Mr. King, who never could speak French in a
hurry, being very elegant at it, and exceedingly careful as to his
accent. Phronsie turned pale and clung to his hand.

"Nothing," said Jasper, in English, "only this person chose to try to
take my seat, and I chose to have it myself."

"You take yourself off," commanded Mr. King, in an irate voice to the
French individual, "or I'll see that some one attends to your case."

Not understanding the language, all might have gone well, but the
French person could interpret the expression of the face under the
white hair, and he accordingly left a position in front of Jasper to
sidle up toward Mr. King's seat in a threatening attitude. At that
Jasper got out of his seat again and went to his father's side. Little
Dr. Fisher also skipped up.

"See here you, Frenchy, stop your parley vousing, and march down those
stairs double quick," cried the little doctor, standing on his tiptoes
and bristling with indignation. His big spectacles had slipped to the
end of his nose, his sharp little eyes blazing above them.

"Frenchy" stared at him in amazement, unable to find his tongue. And
then he saw another gentleman in the person of the parson, who was just
as big as the doctor was small. With one look he glanced around to see
if there were any more such specimens. At any rate, it was time to be
going, so he took a bee-line for the nearest stairway and plunged down.
But he gave the little doctor the compliment of his parting regard.

"Well," ejaculated Mr. King, when his party had regained their seats
and the car started off, "if this is to be the style of our companions,
I think my plan of carriages might be best after all. Eh, my boy?" with
a sly look at Jasper.

"But anything like this might not happen again in a hundred times,
father," said Jasper.

"I suppose I must say 'yes, I know it' to that," said his father. And
as everybody had regained composure, he was beginning to feel very
happy himself as the car rumbled off.

"This is fine," he kept saying to himself, "the boy knew what was
best," and he smiled more than once over at Jasper, who was pointing
out this and that to Polly. Jasper nodded back again.

"Don't let him bother you to see everything, Polly," called Grandpapa.
"Take my advice - it's a nuisance to try to compass the whole place on
the first visit." But Polly laughed back, and the advice went over her
head, as he very well knew it would.

"Was anything ever more beautiful?" exclaimed Mother Fisher, drawing in
long breaths of delight. The little doctor leaned back in his seat, and
beamed at her over his big glasses. She began to look rested and young
already. "This journey is the very thing," he declared to himself, and
his hard-worked hand slipped itself over her toil-worn one as it lay on
her lap. She turned to him with a smile.

"Adoniram, I never imagined anything like this," she said simply.

"No more did I," he answered. "That's the good of our coming, wife."

"Just see those beautiful green trees, so soft and trembling," she
exclaimed, as enthusiastically as Polly herself. "And what a perfect
arch!" And she bent forward to glance down the shaded avenue. "Oh,
Adoniram!"

"What makes the trunks look so green?" Polly was crying as they rumbled
along. "See, Jasper, there isn't a brown branch, even. Everything is
green."

"That's what makes it so pretty," said Jasper. "I don't wonder these
oaks in the _Scheveningsche Boschjes_ - O dear me, I don't know how to
pronounce it in the least - are so celebrated."

"Don't try," said Polly, "to pronounce it, Jasper. I just mark things
in my Baedeker and let it go."

"Our Baedekers will be a sight when we get home, won't they, Polly?"
remarked Jasper, in a pause, when eyes had been busy to their utmost
capacity.

"I rather think they will," laughed Polly. "Mine is a sight now,
Jasper, for I mark all round the edges - and just everywhere."

"But you are always copying off the things into your journal," said
Jasper, "afterward. So do I mark my Baedeker; it's the only way to jot
things down in any sort of order. One can't be whipping out a note-book
every minute. Halloo, here we are at the ch√Ґteau of the Grand Duke of
Saxe-Weimar. Look, Polly! look!"

As they looked back in the distance to the receding ducal estate, Polly
said: "It isn't one-half as beautiful as this delicious old wood is,
Jasper. Just see that perfectly beautiful walk down there and that
cunning little trail. Oh, I do so wish we could stay here."

"Some day, let us ask Dr. Fisher to come out with us, and we will tramp
it. Oh, I forgot; he won't leave the hospitals."

"Mr. Henderson might like to," said Polly, in a glow, "let's ask him
sometime, anyway, Jasper. And then, just think, we can go all in and
out this lovely wood. How fine!"

"Father will come over to Scheveningen again and stay a few days,
maybe," said Jasper, "if he takes a fancy to the idea. How would you
like that, Polly?"

"I don't know," said Polly, "because I haven't seen it yet, Jasper."

"I know - I forgot - 'twas silly in me to ask such a question," said
Jasper, with a laugh. "Well, anyway, I think it more than likely that
he will."

"I just love The Hague," declared Polly, with a backward glance down
the green avenue. "I hope we are going to stay there ever so long,
Jasper."

"Then we sha'n't get on to all the other places," said Jasper. "We
shall feel just as badly to leave every other one, I suppose, Polly."

"I suppose so," said Polly, with a sigh.

When they left the tram-car at the beginning of the village of
Scheveningen they set off on a walk down to the _Curhaus_ and the
beach. Old Mr. King, as young as any one, started out on the promenade
on the undulating terrace at the top of the Dunes, followed by the rest
of his party.

Down below ran a level road. "There is the Boulevard," said Grandpapa.
"See, child," pointing to it; but Phronsie had no eyes for anything but
the hundreds and hundreds of Bath chairs dotting the sands.

"Oh, Grandpapa, what are they?" she cried, pulling his hand and
pointing to them.

"Those are chairs," answered Mr. King, "and by and by we will go down
and get into some of them."

"They look just like the big sunbonnets that Grandma Bascom always wore
when she went out to feed her hens, don't they, Jasper?"

"Precisely," he said, bursting into a laugh. "How you always do see
funny things, Polly."

"And see what queer patches there are all up and down the sides of some
of them," cried Polly. "Whatever can they be, Jasper?"

"Oh, those are the advertisements," said Jasper. "You'll find that
everything is plastered up in that way abroad."

"Just as the omnibuses in London are all covered over with posters,"
said Polly; "weren't they funny, Jasper?"

"Yes, indeed, - 'Lipton Teas,' - I got so tired of that. And
these, - cocoa or chocolate. You know Holland is full of manufactories
of it."

"And isn't it good?" cried Polly, smacking her lips, as she had feasted
on it since their arrival in Holland, Grandpapa considering it
especially good and pure.

"I should say so," echoed Jasper, smacking his lips, too.

"Dr. Fisher - " The parson turned to address his neighbour, but there
was no little doctor.

"Oh, he is off long ago," said his wife, "to his beloved hospital. What
is it, Samuel?"

"I was only going to remark that I don't believe I ever saw so many
people together before. Just look!" he pointed down to the Boulevard
and off to the sands along the beach.

"It is a swarm, isn't it?" said his wife. "Well, we must go, for Mr.
King is going down to the Boulevard."

Polly and Jasper, running in and out of the fascinating shops by the
Concert terrace, had minds divided by the desire to stay on the sands,
and to explore further the tempting interiors. "We must get something
for the boys," she declared, jingling her little silver purse; "just
let us go in this one now, then we'll run after Grandpapa; he's going
down on the sands."

"He's going to sit with Phronsie in some of those big sunbonnets of
yours, Polly," said Jasper. "There they are," pointing to them. "Well,
we'll go in this shop. I want to get a pair of those wooden shoes for
Joel." And they hurried in.

"Oh, how fine!" exclaimed Polly. "Well, I saw a carved bear I think
Davie would like, and - " the rest was lost in the confusing array of
tempting things spread out for their choice by deft shopkeepers.

When they emerged, Polly had a china windmill, and an inkstand of Delft
ware, and several other things, and Jasper carried all the big bundles.
"O dear me," said Polly, "now we must run, or we sha'n't have much time
to stay on the beach; and besides, Grandpapa will worry over us if
we're not there."

"We can't run much, loaded down with this," said Jasper, looking at his
armful and laughing, "or we'd likely drop half of them, and smash them
to pieces. Wait a bit, Polly, I'm going to buy you some fruit." They
stopped at the top of the stone stairway leading down to the sands,
where some comely peasant women, fishermen's wives, held great baskets
of fruit, and in one hand was a pair of scales. "Now, then, what will
you have, Polly?"

"Oh, some grapes, please, Jasper," said Polly. "Aren't they most
beautiful?"

"I should say they were; they are black Hamburgs," declared Jasper.
"Now, then, my good woman, give us a couple of pounds." He put down the
coin she asked for, and she weighed them out in her scales, and did
them up in a piece of a Dutch newspaper.

"We are much worse off now, Jasper," laughed Polly, as they got over
the stairs somehow with their burdens, "since we've all these grapes to
carry. O dear me, there goes one!"

"Never mind," said Jasper, looking over his armful of presents, to
investigate his paper of grapes; "if we don't lose but one, we're
lucky."

"And there goes another," announced Polly, as they picked their way
over and through the thick sand.

"Well, I declare," exclaimed old Mr. King, peering out of his Bath
chair, "if you children aren't loaded down!" He was eating black
Hamburg grapes. Phronsie sat opposite him almost lost in the depth of
another Bath chair, similarly occupied. And at a little remove was the
remainder of the party, and they all were in Bath chairs, and eating
black Hamburg grapes.

"We've had such fun," sighed Polly, and she and Jasper cast their
bundles on the soft sand; then she threw herself down next to them, and
pushed up the little brown rings from her damp brow.

Jasper set his paper of grapes in her lap, then rushed off. "I'll get
you a Bath chair," he said, beckoning to the attendant.

"Oh, Jasper, I'd so much rather sit on the sand," called Polly.

"So had I," he confessed, running back and throwing himself down beside
her. "Now, then, do begin on your grapes, Polly."

"We'll begin together," she said, poking open the paper. "Oh, aren't
they good, though!"

"I should rather say they were," declared Jasper; "dear me, what a
bunch!"

"It's not as big as mine," said Polly, holding up hers to the light.
"You made me take that one, Jasper."

"It's no better than mine," said Jasper, eating away.

"I'm going to hop into one of the chairs just a minute before we go,"
said Polly, nodding at the array along the beach, and eating her grapes
busily, "to see how they feel."

"Oh, Polly, let me get you a chair now," begged Jasper, setting down
the remainder of his bunch of grapes, and springing up.

"Oh, I don't want to, I really and truly don't, Jasper," Polly made
haste to cry. "I like the sand ever and ever so much better. I only
want to see for a minute what it's like to be in one of those funny old
things. Then I should want to hop out with all my might, I just know I
should."

"I'm of your mind," said Jasper, coming back to his seat on the sand
again. "They must be very stuffy, Polly. Well, now you are here, would
you like to come back to Scheveningen for a few days, Polly?"

"I think I should," said Polly, slowly, bringing her gaze around over
the sea, to the Dunes, the beach, with the crowds of people of all
nationalities, and the peasant folk, "if we could stay just as long,
for all that, at the dear old Hague."

And just then old Mr. King was saying to Phronsie, "We will come out
here again, child, and stay a week. Yes," he said to himself, "I will
engage the rooms before we go back this afternoon."

"Grandpapa," asked Phronsie, laying her hand on his knee, "can I have
this very same little house next time we come?"

"Well, I don't know," said Mr. King, peering up and down Phronsie's
Bath chair adorned with the most lively descriptions of the merits of
cocoa as a food; "they're all alike as two peas, except for the matter
of the chocolate and cocoa trimmings. But perhaps I can fix it,
Phronsie, so that you can have this identical one," mentally resolving
to do that very thing. "Well, come, Phronsie, we must go now and get
our luncheon."

"I am so glad if I can have the same little house," said Phronsie, with
a sigh of contentment, as she slowly got out of her Bath chair. "It is
a nice little house, Grandpapa, and I love it very much."




IX

A BOX FOR THE PEPPER BOYS


"Mamsie, have we been here a whole week in Amsterdam," cried Polly,
leaning out of the window to look up and down the canal where the
many-coloured boats lay, "beside all those days at Scheveningen? I
can't believe it!"

"It doesn't seem possible," Mother Fisher answered musingly, and her
hands dropped to her lap, where they lay quietly folded.

"Mamsie," - Polly suddenly drew in her gaze from the charming old canal
and its boats, and sprang to Mrs. Fisher's side, - "do you know, I think
it was just the loveliest thing in all the world for Grandpapa to bring
dear Mr. and Mrs. Henderson abroad with us? I do, Mamsie."

"Mr. King is always doing good, kind things," said Mrs. Fisher, coming
out of her revery, as Polly threw herself down on the floor and laid
her head in her mother's lap, just as she used to do at home. "I
haven't done this for so long," she said, "and it is so good!"

"That is the only drawback about travel," observed Mother Fisher, her
hand passing soothingly over Polly's head, "that there never seems to
be time for the little home ways that are so good. Now we must make the
time and keep it, Polly."

"Indeed we will," cried Polly, seizing Mamsie's other hand to cuddle it
under her chin, "and I'm going to begin right now. It makes me think of
the little brown house, Mamsie, whenever you smooth my hair. What good
times we used to have there!"

Mrs. Fisher's hand trembled a bit, but the black eyes were as serene as
ever. "You used to work pretty hard, Polly," she said.

"Oh, but it was fun!" said Polly, merrily, "only I didn't like the old
stove when it acted badly. But then came my new stove. Mamsie, wasn't
Papa Fisher splendid? And then he saved my eyes. Just think, Mamsie, I
never can love him half enough. I wish I could do something for him,"
she mourned, just as she did in the old days.

"You do, Polly; you are doing something every day of your life," said
her mother, reassuringly. "Never think that you don't do anything. Why,
it was only this very morning that your father told me that you were
his little helper, and that he depended on you to cheer him up."

"Did he say that?" asked Polly, much gratified, poking up her head to
look at her mother. "Oh, I want to be, but I don't know how to help
him. Papa Fisher always seems to be doing something for other people,
and not to need anybody to do things for him."

"Ah, Polly, when you have lived longer," said Mrs. Fisher, "you will
know that those who are doing things always for other people, are the
very ones who need cheering up, for they never complain. Your father,
in going about as he does, day after day, to the hospitals and
everywhere, where he can learn anything that will make him a better
doctor, is working very hard indeed, and yet think how cheerful he is
when he comes home! And he says you help to keep him so, Polly." She
bent over and set a kiss on Polly's red cheek.

"Mamsie," cried Polly, with a glow where the kiss had dropped, "I'm
going to try harder than ever to see wherever I can find a time to help
Papa-Doctor. And I hope that one will come soon."

"And you'll find just such a time will come; it never fails to when you
watch for it," said Mother Fisher, wisely. Just then the door opened,
and Phronsie, fresh from the hands of Matilda, who had been changing
her gown, came in with Araminta in her arms. When she saw Polly on the
floor with her head in Mamsie's lap, she got down by her side and
curled up there, too.

"Smooth my hair, do, Mamsie," she begged.

"Mamsie's got her two bothers," said Polly, with a little laugh.


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Online LibraryMargaret SidneyFive Little Peppers Abroad → online text (page 5 of 19)