Parcels were put on one side to await more leisurely inspection, but cards and letters were opened at once, and Rob seated himself by Peggy’s side as she placed the pile of envelopes on a table in the corner.
“We are partners, you know,” he reminded her, “so I think I am entitled to a share in these. What a lot of cards! Who on earth are the senders?”
“My godfathers, and my godmothers, and all my relatives and friends. The girls at school and some of the teachers. This fat one is from ‘Buns’—Miss Baker, the one whose Sunday hat I squashed. She used to say that I was sent to her as wholesome discipline, to prevent her being too happy as a hard-worked teacher in a ladies’ school, but she wept bucketfuls when I came away. I liked Buns! This is from Marjorie Riggs, my chum. She had a squint, but a most engaging disposition. This is from Kate Strong: now if there
is a girl in the world for whom I cherish an aversion, it is Katie Strong! She is what I call a specious pig, and why she wanted to send me a Christmas card I simply can’t imagine. We were on terms of undying hatred. This is from Miss Moss, the pupil teacher. She had chilblains, poor dear, and spoke through her dose. ‘You busn’t do it, Peggy, you really busn’t. It’s bost adoying!’ Then I did it again, you know, and she sniggered and tried to look cross. This is—I don’t know who this is from! It’s a man’s writing. It looks like a business letter—London postmark—and something printed in white on the seal. What is it? ‘The Pic-Pic-Piccadilly’—Robert!” Peggy’s voice grew shrill with excitement. “The Piccadilly Magazine.”
“Wh-at!” Robert grabbed at the envelope, read the words himself, and stared at her with sparkling eyes. “It is! It’s the prize, Mariquita! It must be. What else would they write about? Open it and see. Quick! Shall I do it for you?”
“Yes, yes!” cried Peggy breathlessly. She craned her head forward as Rob tore open the envelope, and grasped his arm with both hands. Together they read the typewritten words, together they gasped and panted, and shrieked aloud in joy. “We’ve done it! We have! We’ve won the prize! Thirty pounds! Bravo, Rob! Now you can buy your microscope!”—“Good old Mariquita, it’s all your doing. Don’t speak to us; we are literary people, far above ordinary commonplace creatures like you. Thir-ty pounds! made by our own honest toil. What do you think of that, I’d like to know?”
Each member of the audience thought something different, and said it amid a scene of wild excitement. The elders were pleased and proud, though not above improving the occasion by warnings against secret work, over-anxiety, midnight journeys, etcetera. Mellicent exclaimed, “How jolly! Now you will be able to give presents for the New Year as well as Christmas;” and Arthur said, “Dear Peggums! I always loved you; I took the ‘will,’ you know, without any grumbling, and now you can follow up with the deed as quickly as you like!” Each one wanted to hold the precious document in his own hands, to read it with his own eyes, and it was handed round and round to be exclaimed over in accents of wonder and admiration, while Rob beamed, and Peggy tossed her pigtail over her shoulder, holding her little head at an angle of complacent satisfaction.
The moment of triumph was very sweet—all the sweeter because of the sorrows of the last few weeks. The partners forgot all the hard work, worry, and exhaustion, and remembered only the joy of success and hope fulfilled. Robert said little in the way of thanks, preferring to wait until he could tell Peggy of his gratitude without an audience to criticise his words; but when his mother began to speak of leaving, it was he who reminded Mrs Asplin of the promise that the invalid should have her first walk on Christmas Day.
“Let us go on ahead, and take her with us until the carriage overtakes us. It will do her no harm. It’s bright and dry—”
“Oh, mater, yes! I told Peg I would take her out,” chimed in Arthur, starting from his seat by Rosalind’s side, and looking quite distressed because he had momentarily forgotten his promise. “Wrap her up well, and we’ll take care of her. The air will do her good.”
“I think it will, but you must not go far—not an inch beyond the crossroads. Come, Peggy, and I’ll dress you myself. I can’t trust you to put on enough wraps.” Mrs Asplin whisked the girl out of the room, and wrapped her up to such an extent that when she came downstairs again she could only puff and gasp above her muffler, declare that she was choking, and fan herself with her muff. Choking or not, the eyes of the companions brightened as they looked at her, for the scarlet tam-o’-shanter was set at a rakish angle on the dark little head, and Peggy the invalid seemed to have made way for the Peggy of old, with dimpling cheeks and the light of mischief in her eyes.
The moment that Mrs Asplin stopped fumbling with her wraps, she was out at the door, opening her mouth to drink in the fresh chill air, and Robert was at her side before anyone had a chance of superseding him.
“Umph! Isn’t it good? I’m stifling for a blow. My lungs are sore for want of exercise. I was longing, longing to get out. Robert, do you realise it? We have won the prize! Can you believe it? It is almost too good to be true. It’s the best present of all. Now you can buy your microscope, and get on with your work as you never could before!”
“Yes, and it’s all your doing, Mariquita. I could not have pulled it off without your help. If I make anything out of my studies, it will be your doing too. I’ll put it down to you, and thank you for it all my life.”
“H-m! I don’t think I deserve so much praise, but I like it. It’s very soothing,” said Peggy reflectively. “I’m very happy about it, and I needed something to make me happy, for I felt as blue as indigo this morning. We seem to have come to the end of so many things, and I hate ends. There is this disappointment about Arthur, which spoils all the old plans, and the break-up of our good times here together. I shall miss Oswald. He was a dear old dandy, and his ties were quite an excitement in life; but I simply can’t imagine what the house will be like without you, Rob!”
“I shall be here for some weeks every year, and I’ll run down for a day or two whenever I can. It won’t be good-bye.”
“I know—I know! but you will never be one of us again, living in the house, joining in all our 佛山飞机桑拿0757 jokes. It will be quite a different thing. And you will grow up so quickly at Oxford, and be a man before we know where we are.”
“So will you—a woman at least. You are fifteen in January. At seventeen, girls put their hair up and wear long dresses. You will look older than I do, and give yourself as many airs as if you were fifty. I know what girls of seventeen are like. I’ve met lots of them, and they say, ‘That boy!’ and toss their heads as if they were a dozen years older than fellows of their own age. I expect you will be as bad as the rest, but you needn’t try to snub me. I won’t stand it.”
“You won’t have a chance, for I shan’t be here. As soon as my education is finished I am going out to India, to stay until father retires and we come home to settle. So after to-day—”
“After to-day—the deluge! Peggy, I didn’t tell 佛山桑拿按摩全套价格 you before, but I’m off to-morrow to stay in town until I go up to Oxford on the fourteenth. The pater wants to have me with him, so I shan’t see you again for some months. Of course I am glad to be in town for most things, but—”
“Yes, but!” repeated Peggy, and turned a wan little face upon him. “Oh, Rob, it is changing quickly I never thought it would be so soon as this. So it is good-bye. No wonder I felt so blue this morning. It is good-bye for ever to the old life. We shall meet again, oh yes! but it will be different. Some day when I’m old and grown-up I will see in a newspaper the name of a distinguished naturalist and discoverer, and say, ‘I used to know him once. He was not at all proud. He used to pull my hair like any ordinary mortal.’
“Some day I shall enter a ballroom, and see a little lady sitting by the door 佛山桑拿夜生活 waving her hands in the air, and using words a mile long, and shall say to myself, ‘Do my eyes deceive me? Is it indeed the Peggy Pickle of the Past?’ and my host will say, ‘My good sir, that is the world-famous authoress, Mariquita de Ponsonby Plantagenet Saville!’ Stevenson, I assure you, is not in it for flow of language, and she is so proud of herself that she won’t speak to anyone under a belted earl.”
“That sounds nice!” said Peggy approvingly. “I should like that; but it wouldn’t be a ball, you silly boy—it would be a conversazione, where all the clever and celebrated people of London were gathered together, ‘To have the honour of meeting Miss Saville.’ There would be quite a number of people whom we knew among the Lions. A very grand Lady Somebody or other, the beauty of the season—Rosalind, of course—all sparkling 佛山桑拿小姐qq群 with diamonds, and leaning on the arm of a distinguished-looking gentleman with orders on his breast. That’s Arthur. I’m determined that he shall have orders. It’s the only thing that could reconcile me to the loss of the Victoria Cross, and a dress-coat is so uninteresting without trimmings! A fat lady would be sitting in a corner prattling about half a dozen subjects all in one moment—that’s Mellicent; and a tall, lean lady in spectacles would be imparting useful information to a dandy with an eyeglass stuck in one eye—that’s Esther and Oswald! Oh dear, I wonder—I wonder—I wonder! It’s like a story-book, Rob, and we are at the end of the first volume. How much shall we have to do with each other in the second and third; and what is going to happen next, and how, and when?”
“We—we have to part, that’s the next thing,” said 佛山夜生活kb场 Rob sadly. “Here comes the carriage, and Arthur is shouting for us to stop. It’s good-bye, for the present, Mariquita; there’s no help for it!”
“At the crossroads!” said Peggy slowly, her eye wandering to the sign-board which marked the paths branching north, south, east, and west. She stopped short and stood gazing into his face, her eyes big and solemn, the wind blowing her hair into loose little curls beneath her scarlet cap, her dramatic mind seizing eagerly on the significance of the position. “At the crossroads, Rob, to go our different ways! Good-bye, good-bye! I hate to say it. You—you won’t forget me, and like the horrid boys at college better than me, will you, Rob?”
Robert gave a short, strangled little laugh.
“I think—not! Cheer up, partner! We will meet again, and have a better time together than we have had 佛山桑拿中心 yet. The third volume is always more exciting than the first. I say we shall, and you know when I make up my mind to a thing, it has to be done!”
“Ah, but how?” sighed Peggy faintly. “But how?” Vague prophecies of the future were not much comfort to her in this moment of farewell. She wanted something more definite; but Rob had no time to enter into details, for even as she spoke the carriage drew up beside them, and, while the occupants congratulated Peggy on having walked so far and so well, he could only grip her hand, and take his place in silence beside his sister.
Lady Darcy bent forward to smile farewell; Rosalind waved her hand, and then they were off again, driving swiftly homewards, while Peggy stood watching, a solitary figure upon the roadside.
Arthur and his companions hurried forward to join her, afraid lest she 佛山南海区桑拿娱乐会所 should be tired, and overcome with grief by the parting with her friend and partner.
“Poor little Peg! She won’t like it a bit,” said Arthur. “She’s crying! I’m sure she is.”
“She is putting her handkerchief to her eyes,” said Mellicent.
“We will give her an arm apiece, and take her straight back,” said Max anxiously. “It’s a shame to have left the poor little soul alone!”
They stared with troubled eyes at the little figure which stood with its back turned towards them, in an attitude of rigid stillness. There was something pathetic about that stillness, with just the flutter of the tell-tale handkerchief, to hint at the quivering face that was hidden from view. The hearts of Peggy’s companions were very tender over her at that moment; but even as they planned words of comfort and cheer, she wheeled round suddenly and 佛山桑拿全套 walked back to meet them.
It was an unusually mild morning for the season of the year, and the sun was shining from a cloudless sky. Its rays fell full upon Peggy’s face as she advanced—upon reddened eyes, trembling lips, and two large tears trickling down her cheeks. It was undeniable that she was crying, but she carried her head well back upon her shoulders, rather courting than avoiding observation, and as she drew nearer it became abundantly evident that Peggy had retired in honour of Mariquita, and that consolations had better be deferred to a more promising occasion.
“A most lacerating wind!” she said coolly. “It draws the moisture to my eyes. Quite too piercingly cold, I call it!” and even Mellicent had not the courage to contradict.
And here, dear readers, we leave Peggy Saville at a milestone of her life. In what 佛山桑拿按摩qq女 direction the crossroads led the little company of friends, and what windings of the path brought them once more together, remains still to be told. It was a strange journey, and in their travelling they met many friends with whom all young people are acquainted. The giant barred the way, and had to be overcome before the palace could be reached; the Good Spirit intervened at the right moment to prevent calamity, the prince and princess stepped forward and made life beautiful; for life is the most wonderful fairy tale that was ever written, and full of magic to those who have eyes to see.
Farewell, then, to Peggy Pickle; but if it be the wish of those who have followed her so far, we may meet again with Mariquita Saville, in the glory of sweet and twenty, and learn from her the secret of the years.
As I have a sort of religion in literature, believing that no author can justly intrude upon the public without feeling that his writings may be of some benefit to mankind, I beg leave to apologize for this little book. I know, no critic can tell me better than I know myself, how much it falls short of what might have been done by an abler pen. Yet it is something—an index, I should say, to something better. The French in America may sometime find a champion. For my own part, I would that the gentler principles which governed them, and the English under William Penn, and the Dutch under the enlightened rule of the States General, had obtained here, instead of the narrower, the more penurious, and most prescriptive policy of their neighbors.
I am indebted to Judge Haliburton’s “History of Nova Scotia” for the main body of historical facts in this volume. Let me acknowledge my obligations. His researches and impartiality are most creditable, and worthy of respect and attention. I have also drawn as liberally as time [Pg iv]and space would permit from chronicles contemporary with the events of those early days, as well as from a curious collection of items relating to the subject, cut from the London newspapers a hundred years ago, and kindly furnished me by Geo. P. Putnam, Esq. These are always the surest guides. To Mrs. Kate Williams, of Providence, R. I., I am indebted also. Her story of the “Neutral French,” no doubt, inspired the author of the most beautiful pastoral in the language. The “Evangeline” of Longfellow, and the “Pauline” of this lady’s legend, are pictures of the same individual, only drawn by different hands.