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The Girl's Own Paper, Vol. XX. No. 1006, April 8, 1899

The Girl's Own Paper, Vol. XX. No. 1006, April 8, 1899
Author: Various
Title: The Girl's Own Paper, Vol. XX. No. 1006, April 8, 1899
Release Date: 2018-08-19
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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The Girl's Own Paper.

Vol. XX.—No. 1006.]

[Price One Penny.

APRIL 8, 1899.

[Transcriber’s Note: This Table of Contents was not present in the original.]



By JESSIE MANSERGH (Mrs. G. de Horne Vaizey), Author of “Sisters Three,” etc.


All rights reserved.]


Arthur kept his word, and tried manfullynot to let his own disappointmentinterfere with the enjoyment of ChristmasDay. The party at the vicarage wassmaller than usual, for Rob and Oswaldhad both gone home for the festiveseason, and he knew well that theknowledge that “Arthur was coming”had seemed the best guarantee of amerry day to those who were left behind.Peggy too—poor little Peg, with herbandaged hands and tiny white face—itwould never do to grieve her by beingdepressed and gloomy!

“Begone, dull care!” cried Arthur tohimself then, when he awoke on Christmasmorning, and promptly wrappinghimself in his dressing-gown, he salliedout on to the landing, where he burstinto the strains of “Christians, awake!”with such vigorous brush-and-combaccompaniment on the panels of thedoors as startled the household out oftheir dreams.

“Miserable boy! I was having sucha lovely nap! I’ll never forgive you!”cried Mrs. Asplin’s voice in sleepywrath.

“Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!”shouted the girls, and Peggy’sclear pipe joined in last of all. “Andmany of them! Come in! Come in! Iwas lying awake and longing to seeyou!”


Arthur put his ruffled head round thedoor and beamed at the little figure inthe bed, as if he had never known atrouble in his life.

“What a wicked story! I heard yousnore. Merry Christmas, Peg, and aHappy New Year! And don’t you gofor to do it again never no more! It’sa jolly morning. I’ll take you out for atoddle in the garden when we comehome from church, if you are a goodgirl. Will you have your present now,or wait till you get it? It begins with aB. I love my love with a B., becauseshe’s a——”

“Oh, Arthur!” interrupted Peggyregretfully. “I haven’t half such anice present for you as I expected.You see I couldn’t work anything, andI couldn’t get out to the shops, and Ihadn’t nearly as much money as Iexpected either. If Bob and I hadwon that prize, I should have had tenpounds; but the stupid editors have putoff announcing the result week afterweek. They say there were so manycompetitors; but that’s no consolation,for it makes our chance less. I do hopeit may be out next week. But, at anyrate, I didn’t get my ten pounds in time,and there I was, you see, with littlemoney and practically no hands, a—er—amost painful contingency, which Ihope it may never be your lot to experience.You must take the will forthe deed.”

“Oh, I will!” agreed Arthur promptly.“I’ll take the will now, and you canfollow up with the deed as soon as youget the cash. But no more journeys upto London, my dear, if you love me, anddon’t use such big words before seveno’clock in the morning, or you’ll choke.It’s bad for little girls to exert themselvesso much. Now I’m going toskate about in the bath for a bit, andtumble into my clothes, and then I’llcome back and give you a lift downstairs.You are coming down for breakfast, Isuppose?”

“Rather! On Christmas morning!I should just think I was!” cried Peggyemphatically, and Arthur went off tothe bath-room, calling in at Max’s roomen route to squeeze a sponge full ofwater over that young gentleman’s headand pull the clothes off the bed by wayof giving emphasis to his “Get up,you lazy beggar! It’s the day afterto-morrow, and the plum pudding iswaiting!”

Peggy was the only one of the youngfolks who did not go to church thatmorning; but she was left in charge ofthe decoration for the dinner-table, andwhen this was finished, there was somuch to think about that the timepassed all too quickly.

Last year she and Arthur had spentChristmas with their mother; now bothparents were away in India, and everythingwas strange and altered. AsPeggy sat gazing into the heart of thebig gloomy fire, it seemed to her thatthe year that was passing away wouldend a complete epoch in her brother’sexperiences and her own, and that fromthis hour a new chapter would begin.She herself had come back from thedoor of death, and had life given, as itwere, afresh into her hands. Arthur’slonged-for career had been checked atits commencement, and all his planslaid waste. Even the life in the vicaragewould henceforth take new conditions,for Rob and Oswald would go up toOxford at the beginning of the term,and their place be filled by new pupils.There was something solemnising inthe consciousness of change which filledthe air. One could never tell whatmight be the next development. Nothingwas too unexpected to happen—sinceArthur’s success had ended in failure,and she herself had received Rosalind’svows of love and friendship.

“Good things have happened as wellas bad,” acknowledged Peggy honestly,“but how I do hate changes! The newpupils may be the nicest boys that wereever born, but no one will ever be likeRob to me, and I’d rather Arthur hadbeen a soldier than anything in thewide world. I wish one could go onbeing young for ever and ever. It’swhen you grow old that all thesetroubles and changes come upon you.”And Peggy sighed and wagged herhead, oppressed with the weight offifteen years.

It was a relief to hear the clatter ofhorses’ hoofs, and the sound of voicesin the hall, which proved that thechurch-goers had returned home. Mr.and Mrs. Asplin had been driven homefrom church by Lord and Lady Darcy,and the next moment they were in theroom, greeting Peggy with demonstrativeaffection.

“We couldn’t go home without comingto see you, dear,” said Lady Darcyfondly. “Rosalind is walking with therest, and will be here in a few minutes.A merry Christmas to you, darling, andmany, many of them. I’ve brought youa little present which I hope you willlike. It’s a bangle bracelet—quite asimple one that you can wear every day—andyou must think of me sometimeswhen you put it on.”

She touched the spring of a moroccocase as she spoke, and there on the satinlining lay a band of gold, dependentfrom which hung the sweetest little locketin the world—heart-shaped, studded withpearls, and guarding a ring of hairbeneath the glass shield.

Lady Darcy pointed to it in silence—hereyes filling with tears, as theyinvariably did at any reference toRosalind’s accident, and Peggy’s cheeksflushed with pleasure.

“I can’t thank you! I really can’t,”she said. “It is too lovely. Youcouldn’t possibly have given me anythingI liked better. I have a predilectionfor jewellery, and the little locketis too sweet, dangling on that chain!I do love to have something thatwaggles!” She held up her arm asshe spoke, shaking the locket to and frowith a childlike enjoyment, while the twoladies watched her with tender amusement.Lord Darcy had not spoken sincehis first greeting, but now he cameforward, and linking his arm in Peggy’sled her to the further end of the room.

“I have no present for you, my dear—Icould not think of one that wasgood enough—but yesterday I reallythink I hit on something that wouldplease you. Robert told us how keenlyyou were feeling your brother’s disappointment,and that he was undecidedwhat to try next. Now, I believe I canhelp him there. I have influence in theForeign Office, and can insure him anopening when he is ready for it, ifyour father agrees that it is desirable.Would that please you, Peggy? If Ican help your brother, will it go somelittle way towards paying the debt I oweyou?”

“Oh—h!” cried Peggy rapturously.“Oh!” She clasped Lord Darcy’shands in her own and gazed at him withdilated eyes. “Can you do it? Willyou do it? There is nothing in all theworld I should like so much. HelpArthur—give him a good chance—and Ishall bless you for ever and ever! Icould never thank you enough——”

“Well, well, I will write to your fatherand see what he has to say. I canpromise the lad a start at least, andafter that his future will be in his ownhands, where I think we may safelyleave it. Master Arthur is one of thefortunate beings who has an ‘opensesame’ to all hearts. Mr. Asplinassures me that he is as good at workas at play; I have not seen that side ofhis character, but he has always left amost pleasing impression on my mind,most pleasing.” The old lord smiledto himself, and his eyes took a dreamyexpression as if he were recalling tomemory the handsome face and strongmanly presence of the young fellow ofwhom he was speaking. “He hasbeen a favourite at our house for someyears now, and I shall be glad to do hima service, but remember, Peggy, thatwhen I propose this help, it is in thefirst instance at least, for your sake, nothis. I tell you this because I think itwill give you pleasure to feel that youhave been the means of helping yourbrother. Talk it over with him sometime when you are alone together, andthen he can come up and see me. To-daywe must leave business alone.Here they come! I thought they wouldnot be long after us——”

Even as he spoke voices sounded fromthe hall, there was a clatter of feetover the tiled flooring, and Mellicentdashed into the room.

“P—P—P—Postman!” she stammeredbreathlessly. “He is coming!Round the corner! Heaps of letters!Piles of parcels! A hand-cart, and aboy to help him! Here in five minutes!Oh! oh! oh!” She went rushing backto the door, and Rosalind came forward,looking almost her old beautiful self,with her cheeks flushed by the cold air,and the fur collar of her jacket turnedup so as to hide the scarred cheek.

“Merry Christmas, Rosalind! How—hownice you look!” cried Peggy,looking up and down the dainty figurewith more pleasure in the sight than shecould have believed possible a few weeksbefore. After being accustomed forfour long weeks to gaze at those perfectlycut features, Esther’s long chinand Mellicent’s retroussé nose hadbeen quite a trial to her artistic sensibilitieson her return to the vicarage.{435}It was like having a masterpiece takendown from the walls and replaced byan inferior engraving. She gave a sighof satisfaction as she looked once moreat Rosalind’s face.

“Mewwy Chwistmas, Peggy! I’vemissed you fwightfully. I’ve not beento church, but I dwove down to meet theothers, and come to see you. I had tosee you on Chwistmas Day. I’ve hadlovely pwesents and there are more tocome. Mother has given you thebwacelet, I see. Is it what you like?”

“My dear, I love it! I’m fearfullyaddicted to jewellery. I had to put iton at once, and it looks quite elegant ontop of the bandages! I’m inexpressiblyobliged. I’ve got heaps of things—books,scent, glove-box, writing-case, abig box coming from India, and—don’ttell her—an apron from Mellicent! Themost awful thing. I can’t think whereshe found it. Yellow cloth with dogroses worked in filoselle! Imagine mein a yellow apron with spotty rosesaround the brim!”

“He! He! I can’t! I weallycan’t. It’s too widiculous!” protestedRosalind. “She sent me a twine bagmade of netted cotton. It’s awfullyuseful if you use twine, but I never do.Don’t say I said so. Who got thenight-dwess bag with the two shades ofblue that didn’t match?”

“Esther! You should have seen herface!” whispered Peggy roguishly, andthe girls went into peals of laughterwhich brought Robert hurrying acrossthe room to join them.

“Now then, Rosalind; when you havequite done, I should like to speak toPeggy. The compliments of the seasonto you, Mariquita; I hope I see youwell.”

Peggy pursed up her lips and lookedhim up and down with her dancing hazeleyes.

“Most noble sir, the heavens rainblessings on you—oh, my goodness,there’s the postman!” she cried all inone breath, and the partners dartedforward side by side towards the frontdoor, where the old postman was alreadystanding, beaming all over his weatherbeatenface, as he began turning outthe letters and calling out the names onthe envelopes.

“Asplin, Asplin, Saville, Asplin,Saville, Saville, Miss Peggy Saville,Miss Mellercent Asplin, Miss Saville,Miss M. Saville, Miss Peggy Saville.”


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