Five Little Peppers and How They Grew and The New Treasure-Seekers
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney
1. The big drawing-room, with its shaded light and draped furniture, was nothing to Polly Pepper’s eyes. All she knew was that it was the room that contained the piano!
2. Every chance she could get, Polly would creep into the drawing-room and work hard at the tedious scales and exercises. She knew that they were stepping-stones to so much that was glorious beyond them. Never had she sat still for so long a time in her active little life.
3. “She likes it!” said Percy, in absolute astonishment one day. Polly had refused to go with other children to the park. Instead, she went into the drawing-room and shut the door. “She likes those hateful old exercises, and she doesn’t like anything else.”
4. “Much you know about,” Jasper answered. “She’d love to go with us. It’s just that she’s determined to learn to play. Nothing can stop her now.”
5. And Polly kept at it steadily day after day. She got through with her lessons in the schoolroom as quickly as possible to rush to her music. Soon the little French music teacher became so enthusiastic that he would skip away on the tips of his toes.
6. “I think,” said Jasper one evening after dinner, when all the children were assembled as usual in their favorite place on the big rug in front of the fire in the library, “that Polly’s getting on in music as I never saw anyone do; and that’s a fact!”
7. “I mean to begin,” said Van, ambitiously, sitting up straight and staring at the glowing coals. “I guess I will to-morrow,” which announcement was received with a perfect shout—Van not being very musical at all!
8. “If you do,” said Jasper, when the laughter subsided, “I shall go out of the house at every lesson; no one will stay here to listen, Van.”
9. “I can bang all I want to, then,” said Van, not disturbed by the reflection, and pulling one of Prince’s long ears, “you think you’re so big, Jasper, just because you’re thirteen.”
10. “He’s only three ahead of me, Van,” bristled Percy, who never could forgive Jasper for having been born three years earlier than himself.
11. “Three’s just as bad as four,” said Van.
12. “Let’s tell stories,” began Polly, who never could remember such arguments at home in the little brown house. “We must each tell one,” she added with the greatest enthusiasm. “We’ll see which is the biggest and the best.”
13. “Oh, no,” said Van, who loved Polly’s stories. “You tell, Polly—you tell alone.”
14. “Yes, do, Polly,” said Jasper; “we’d rather.”
15. So Polly launched out into one of her best stories. Soon they were in such a peal of laughter that Mr. King came in and took a seat in a big rocking-chair to hear the fun.
16. “Oh, dear,” said Van, leaning back with a long sigh and wiping his flushed face as Polly wound up with a triumphant flourish, “however do you think of such things, Polly Pepper?”
17. “Why, that’s nothing to what she has told time and again in the little brown house in Badgertown,” said Jasper, bringing his handsome face out into the light. And then he caught sight of Polly’s face, which turned a little pale as he spoke. The brown eyes had such a pathetic droop in them that it went to the boy’s very heart. And then he realized: Polly was homesick already!
The New Treasure-Seekers by E. Nesbit
1. “Tell us how you did it, H.O.,” Dora said; “and quit saying it’s everybody else’s fault.”
2. “It’s yours as much as anyone’s, actually,” H.O. said. “You made me the clown costume when I asked you.”
3. “Oh, H.O., you are unkind!” Dora said. “You know you said it was for a surprise for the bride and groom.”
4. “So it would have been, if they’d found me at Rome, and I’d popped up like what I meant to— like a jack-in-the-box—and said, ‘Here we are again!’ in my clown’s clothes. But it’s all spoiled, and father’s going to scold me.” H.O. sniffed every time he stopped speaking. But, we did not correct him then. We wanted to hear about everything.
5. “Why didn’t you tell me straight out what you were going to do?” Dick asked.
6. “Because you’d have stopped me. You always do that if I want to do anything you haven’t thought of yourself.”
7. “What provisions did you take, H.O.?” asked Alice.
8. “Oh, I’d saved a lot of food, only I forgot it. And I had my knife—and I changed into the clown’s dress in the cupboard, and I got into the basket, and I lifted the tray up over my head and sat down and fitted it down over me. And none of you would ever have thought of it, let alone do it.”
9. “I should hope not,” Dora said, but H.O. went on, unhearing.
10. “It was unbearably hot and stuffy—I had to cut an air-hole in the cart, and I cut my thumb; it was so bumpy. And, they threw me about as if I was coals—and wrong way up as often as not. And, the train was awful wobbly, and I felt so sick, and if I’d had the food I couldn’t have eaten it. I had a bottle of water, and that was all right until I dropped the cork, and I couldn’t find it in the dark until the water fell over, and then I found the cork that minute.”
11. “And when they dumped the basket on to the platform, I was so glad to sit still a minute without being jogged I nearly went to sleep. And then I looked out, and the label was off, and lying close by. And then someone gave the basket a kick and said, ‘What’s this here?’ And I daresay I did squeak—like a rabbit-noise, you know—and then someone said, ‘Sounds like live-stock, doesn’t it?’ And then they trundled me off somewhere, on a wheelbarrow it felt like and dumped me down again in a dark place—and I couldn’t see anything more.”
12. “I wound up my watch, just for amusement. You know the row it makes ever since it was broken, and I heard someone say, ‘Sounds like an infernal machine’—and then, ‘If I was the inspector, I’d dump it down in the river.’ But the other said, ‘Leave it alone,’ so I wasn’t dumped. But then I heard them say ‘Police,’ so I let them have it.”
13. “I thrashed about in the basket, and I heard them all start off, and I shouted, ‘Hi, here! Let me out, can’t you!’ I kept talking to them through the cracks of the basket. And when they opened it, there was quite a crowd, and they laughed, and gave me bread and cheese, and said I was a plucky youngster—and I am, and it’s all your faults for not looking after me. Aren’t I your little brother?”
14. That evening, H.O. was ill in bed. The doctor said it was a fever from chill and excitement, but I think myself it was the things he ate at lunch, and the shaking up, and then the bread and cheese.
15. He was ill for a week. When he recovered, not much was said. My father, who is the fairest man in England, said the boy had been punished enough—for he missed going to the theatre, and he had to take a lot of the filthiest medicine I ever tasted.
16. The only real punishment he had was seeing the clown’s dress burnt before his eyes by Father. But when he recovered, we soon taught him not to say again that it was any of our faults. He is our little brother, and we are not going to stand that kind of cheek from him.