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For all that grand old Rigi's summit claimed them, it was some time before Mr. King's party left the little parlour. Herr Bauricke surely didn't want to until he had gotten it settled just what he did mean about Polly's music. That she showed great promise, that some faults in the way she had been taught were there, but it was by no means too late to mend them, that she had spirit and expression and love for the art.
"Ah, dat is eet, after all." Herr Bauricke clasped his long fingers and beamed at her, and then swept the entire party. "Lofe, ah, how one must lofe eet! Eef not, shame, shame!" His countenance darkened frightfully, and he fairly glared at them, as he unclasped his hands and swung one over his head, while his black beard vibrated with each word.
"Goodness me!" exclaimed Tom Selwyn, "it takes a musical man to sling around. I say, Jasper, I'd like to do a bit of boxing or cricketing with him." But Jasper didn't hear or see anything but Herr Bauricke and Polly; and, indeed, the whole room was given up to the "musical man" and his words.
At last Polly drew a long breath; Grandpapa was taking her hand. "Let us all go out and explore a bit," and off they went, the entire party. And the "musical man," as Tom still continued to call him in private, proved to be as expert in the use of his feet as his fingers, for he led them here, there, and everywhere that promised the least chance of a good view.
But Polly saw only the glorious future when, on the morrow, Herr Bauricke would really show her on the piano how best to study and to work! And the rosy glow of sunset wasn't one-half as bright as all her dreams.
"Polly," said Phronsie, pulling her hand gently, as she peered up into her face, "are you looking at it?"
"What, Pet? Oh, yes," said Polly, starting out of her revery with a little laugh, "you mean the sunset?"
"Yes," said Phronsie, "I do mean that. Are you looking at it, Polly? Because if you are not looking, I wish you would, Polly."
"Well, I suppose I am looking at it, Phronsie," said Polly, with another little laugh, "but perhaps not in just the right way, for you see, Phronsie, I can't seem to see anything but just the splendid thing that is coming to-morrow. Oh, Phronsie Pepper, just think of that."
"I know," said Phronsie, with a little gurgle of delight at Polly's happiness, "and I am so glad, Polly."
"Of course you are," declared Polly, warmly, "just as glad as can be, Phronsie," and she threw her arm around her. "And now I'm going to look at the sunset in the right way, I hope. Isn't it beautiful, child?"
"Polly," declared Phronsie, suddenly wriggling away from Polly's arm, to stand in front of her with a beaming face, "I think it's just as beautiful as it can be up top here. I can see right in between that red cloud and that little pink teenty one. And I wish I could just go in, Polly."
"Wouldn't it be nice?" echoed Polly, enthusiastically.
"What?" asked Adela, hurrying up from a point of rocks below, where she had been sketching.
"Oh, to go in between those clouds there and see it all," said Polly.
"Dear me!" exclaimed Adela, "I shouldn't like it. I'd much rather stay down here, and sketch it."
"We could go sailing off, oh, ever so far," said Polly, swinging her arms to suit the action to the words. "And you'd be stuck to your rock here, Adela; while, Phronsie, you and I would sit on the edge of a cloud, and let our feet hang over; and oh, Adela, you could sketch us then as we went sailing by."
"How that would look!" exclaimed Adela, with such a face that Polly burst out into a merry laugh, and Phronsie, joining with her little crow of delight and clapping her hands at the idea of such fun, brought pretty much the whole party around them.
"What's up?" cried Tom to Jasper, on the way to the girls with some fear, for he didn't dare even yet to talk much to Polly. As for Adela, he let her severely alone.
"Don't know," said Jasper, "but we'll soon find out," and they did, by Phronsie's flying away from Polly and skipping down over the rocks to meet them.
"Oh, Jasper, Polly's telling how we would sail on that beautiful cloud," announced Phronsie, her yellow hair flying from her face as she sped along, heedless of her steps.
"Take care or you'll fall," warned Jasper. "See, your mother is looking worried." And, truth to tell, Mrs. Fisher, on a point of rocks a little way off with the others, was getting a bit alarmed as she saw the progress of her baby.
"I'll take care," said Phronsie, sobering down at thought of Mamsie's being troubled, and beginning to pick her way carefully. And Jasper gathered up her fingers in his, thinking of the time when she toiled up and down the long stairway, when she first came to what was now her home, blessed thought! and Polly and he sat down at the foot to watch her.
"And so Polly and you are going to try sailing on that cloud there," said Jasper, squinting up at the brilliant sky.
"We aren't really going, Jasper," said Phronsie, shaking her head, soberly, "because you see we can't. But Polly's pretending it all; and we're to sit on the edge and swing our feet. And Adela is going to make a picture of us."
"Whew!" whistled Jasper. "And I say, Polly,"--for now they had scrambled up to the two girls,--"isn't there room for us on that cloud too?" While Tom kicked pebbles, and wished he knew how to talk to girls.
"Perhaps," said Polly, gaily. "Oh, I suppose that those who couldn't get on our cloud could take the next one."
"I'd rather have your cloud, Polly," said Jasper.
"And Grandpapa must come too," cried Phronsie, in alarm at the very thought of his being left out. "I want him on our cloud, Polly."
"Yes, and Mamsie and Papa-Doctor," finished Polly, ready for any nonsense, she was just bubbling over so with joy at thought of the morrow and what it would bring. "Well, it is good the cloud is big," squinting up at the radiant sky.
"And, Tom, you are coming on that cloud-boat."
Jasper pulled him forward with a merry laugh, giving him a clap on the back at the same time.
"Eh--oh, I can't--no, thank you," stammered Tom, thus suddenly brought into notice. "Excuse me," just as if the invitation had been a bona fide one.
Polly never smiled, but Adela giggled right out. Tom's face flushed, and he rushed off furiously, determined never to chance it again whereby he'd be mortified before girls--not he!
All the gay time was flown, and the red and pink and purple clouds looked down upon a sorry, uncomfortable little group. Jasper spoke first. "I must go after him," and he dashed down the rocks.
"O dear me, I couldn't help it," said Adela, twisting uncomfortably, "it was so silly in him to take it all in earnest."
"He didn't really think we meant it," said Polly, her brown eyes very grave. Would Jasper really persuade him to forget that laugh? "But he is shy, and he said the first thing that came into his head."
"Boys haven't any right to be shy," said Adela, fussing with her little sketching block and pencil, "they are so big and strong."
"Why did Tom run away so fast?" asked Phronsie, only half comprehending.
"Never mind, child," said Polly, with a reassuring pat on her head.
"And isn't Jasper coming back?" asked Phronsie, in great distress.
"Yes, oh, I guess so," said Polly. "Well, there, the pretty glow has all faded; see, Phronsie," pointing up to the leaden clouds that no one who had failed to see a few moments before could have imagined alive with colour. "Now we ought to run over to the others, for they'll be going back to the hotel."
"It's all gone," said Phronsie, sadly, looking up at the darkening sky. "Polly, where has the pretty red and pink gone to?"
"Oh, I don't know," said Polly, thinking only of Tom, and what a hard time Jasper must be having with him. "Take care, Phronsie, don't look up now--you'll fall! There, take my hand; now come on."
"O dear me, I didn't mean to laugh," Adela was saying to herself as she fell back in the zig-zag path down the rocks. "I wish I hadn't--I'll --I'll--" What she meant to do wasn't very clear in her mind; what she did do, was to run up to her grandmother's and her room, and toss her sketch-book on the table, and herself on the bed, for a good hearty cry.
Polly found her there, when they couldn't find her anywhere else, with much searching and running about. Little old Mrs. Gray was worrying dreadfully, so afraid she had been blown from the rocks; for the wind had now risen, and all the travellers were seeking the shelter and warmth of the hotel corridor and parlours.
"Oh, Adela, how could you?" Polly was going to say. And then she thought that would be the very worst thing in all the world, for Adela's shoulders were shaking, and it would only make her cry worse. And besides, Polly remembered how she had sometimes given way in just this fashion, and how much worse she would have been, had it not been for a wise, good mother. So she ran out in the hall. "I must tell her grandmother," she said to herself.
"Have you found her?" asked Jasper, looking up from the foot of the staircase.
"Yes," said Polly, "I have."
"All right." And Jasper vanished, and Polly went slowly back, wishing she could be downstairs with all the dear people, instead of trying to comfort this dismal girl. The next moment she was kneeling down by the side of the bed, and trying to get hold of one of Adela's hands. But Adela bounced over to the farther side, and she cried out angrily, "It's all very well for you to say so, because you didn't do it. And everybody likes you. O dear me--tee--hee--boo--hoo!"
"But I've often done things just as bad," confessed Polly, "and, Adela, I've cried like this, too. But Mamsie--oh, Adela! she made me see it was wrong; so I had to stop it, you know."
"How is it wrong?" asked Adela, rolling over, and taking the handkerchief away from one eye enough to see Polly Pepper's face. "I can cry, I guess, if I want to, without asking anybody."
"Oh, no, you can't," said Polly, decidedly. "I mean no one can."
"Why not, pray tell?" said Adela, sniffing very hard. "My eyes are my own, and I shall cry, too, whenever I want to."
"Well, I can't just tell you exactly why you can't cry when you want to," said Polly, afraid she wasn't going to say the right word, "but Mamsie could if she were here. I'll go and call her, Adela." And Polly sprang to her feet. "She'll come, I know."
"Oh, no--no," cried Adela, in mortal alarm. "I don't want her--I mean I'd rather have you. You're a girl; and a woman talking at me scares me."
"Then you mustn't cry if I stay," said Polly, stopping short, and seeing her advantage, "for I surely shall go, Adela," she added firmly, "unless you stop crying."
"O dear me." Adela squirmed all over the bed. "I can't stop--I've always cried as much as I wanted to. O dear me--boo-hoo-hoo! I mean--I'll stop, don't go--" sopping up her wet face with a nervous hand. "See, Pol-ly!" for Polly had slipped out of the room. Adela flew off from the bed. "Polly--Polly, Pol- ly!" she called, in a piteous little tone.
Polly, halfway down the stairs, looked back. "Oh, you are up," she said, with a smile. "Now that's fine; come." And she held out her hand.
"Mercy me, and O my!" cried Adela. "I can't go looking like this; why, I'm a perfect sight, I know, Polly Pepper! and my nose feels all bunged out of shape and as big!"
"Never mind," said Polly, as reassuringly, "just dash some water over it, and it'll be all right. I'll wait here for you."
So Polly stood on her stair while Adela, bemoaning all the way that she didn't look fit to be seen, and that she was a perfect sight, and she couldn't go down among them all, stumbled back into her room. And pretty soon Polly heard a big splash. "O dear me--oh, what shall I do?"
"What is the matter?" cried Polly, deserting her stair, to run in and up to the washstand.
"Just see what I've done," exclaimed Adela, holding out one arm. It was dripping wet, and the water was running off in a stream and down to meet a small puddle where the splash had struck on the floor.
"The pitcher slipped--O dear me--ugh--" cried Adela, wriggling all over.
"Stand still," said Polly, "do, Adela, till I wipe your sleeve dry." And she got the towel and began to sop and to pat Adela's arm.
"It never'll feel dry, it's perfectly awful--ugh--Polly Pepper," declared Adela, twisting away from Polly's fingers; "it's just like a wet snake--ugh--O dear me! and it gives me the creeps."
"You'll have to put on another waist, I do think," said Polly, hanging up the towel, aghast to find herself growing angry at all this delay, and with half a mind to run and leave Adela to herself.
"O dear me, and there's this water running all over the floor," cried Adela, stepping gingerly over the pool, and trying to pick off the wet sleeve from her arm at the same time.
"I'll fix it," said Polly, as cheerily as she could, "while you get your waist on." And she sopped the water up. "There, that's done," she announced with satisfaction; "now do hurry, Adela."
"I can't get out of this old, horrid, wet sleeve," said Adela, very red in the face, and pulling and twitching at it.
"Take care, you'll tear it," warned Polly.
"I don't care if I do," said Adela, peevishly. "O dear me, somebody's coming!" With that she flew into the closet and pulled to the door.
"Why, Polly!" exclaimed Mother Fisher, in surprise, "what is the matter? We are all waiting to go in to dinner."
"Oh, I'm so sorry," began Polly, feeling as if nothing would be so delightful as to have a good cry in Mamsie's arms and tell all the story.
"Well, you must come right away," said Mrs. Fisher. "Why, where is Adela?" looking around the room.
"I'm here," said Adela, from the closet.
"Come out here, Adela," said Mrs. Fisher. So Adela came out, the wet sleeve still on her arm; but she had gotten out of the rest of the waist.
"That's too bad," said Mrs. Fisher; and in a minute Adela's wet arm was free and nicely dried, and a clean waist being found, it was soon on, and then Mother Fisher took up the hairbrush. "We must have this all nice and smooth," she said. And Adela stood still, liking it all very much; and her hair was brushed, much as if she had been Phronsie, and then Mother Fisher released her with a smile. "There, now you are ready," she said.
"She didn't scold a bit," said Adela, going after her with Polly down the stairs, and forgetting her red eyes and swollen nose.
"Our mother never scolds," declared Polly, with her head very high, "never in all this world, Adela Gray."
And at dinner Tom Selwyn looked across the table, and when he caught sight of Adela's face, and saw that some one else could feel as badly as he could, and he guessed the reason, he made up his mind what he was going to do next. And as soon as the meal was over, without giving himself time to think, he marched up to Adela. "Say, I didn't much mind because you laughed, don't you know," and held out his hand.
"I've been crying ever since," said Adela, "and I didn't mean to laugh."
"I know it," said Tom to the first part of her sentence, and looking at her nose. "Well, never mind now, so it's quits, and shake hands."
"I don't know what quits is," said Adela, putting out her hand.
"Oh, it's when things are evened up somehow," said Tom; "not exactly that, but it will do well enough by way of explaining."
"And I'm never going to laugh again at anybody," said Adela, lifting her red eyes.
"Well, come on, don't you want a game of draughts?" said Tom, awkwardly.
"Draughts?" repeated Adela, very much puzzled. "I don't know it."
"Why, what a whopper!" Tom was going to say, but changed it to, "Why, I saw you playing it last night with Polly Pepper."
"Why, no, you didn't," said Adela, not very politely, "that was checkers."
"That's the same thing," said Tom, triumphantly, "only you Americans call it that funny name."
"Well, I think it's a great deal nicer name than draughts," said Adela; "that's silly."
"Well, checkers; that's senseless," retorted Tom, "and, besides, you Americans always say 'nice' at everything." Then he looked at her red eyes and poor little nose, and added kindly, "Well, never mind, call it checkers, then, I don't care; let's have a game," and he rushed for the board.
Mrs. Selwyn looked from her corner where she had taken a book, and smiled to see him playing a game with a girl. Then she nodded over to Jasper, and he smiled back.
And Adela never once thought how she looked. And she beat Tom twice, and that quite set her up. And then for the next three games he routed her men completely off the board. And, strange to say, she kept her temper, and even smiled at the disaster.
"That's a good game." Old Mr. King came up as the last one was going on. "Tom, my boy, you play a fine one."
"And she fights well," said Tom, generously. "She beat me twice."
"You don't say so," exclaimed Mr. King. "Well, that's doing pretty well, Adela, to get ahead of the English lad. But you don't stand much of a chance this time; Tom's got the game, sure." And so it proved in less time than it takes to write it.
And then everybody said "good night" to everybody else; for the Alpine horn would sound at the earliest dawn to waken the sleepers to see the sunrise.
"Mamsie," cried Polly, raising her head suddenly as she cuddled into bed, "supposing we shouldn't hear that horn--just supposing it! Oh, can't I stay awake? Do let me, Mamsie."
"Your Grandfather has made arrangements for us all to be called," said Mrs. Fisher, "so we won't have to depend on the horn, and now you must go to sleep just as fast as ever you can. Then you'll be as bright as a button in the morning, Polly."
"Mamsie," said Polly, "I don't think Grandpapa has kept from doing anything he could to make us happy, do you, Mamsie? not a single thing."
"No," said Mother Fisher, "I don't, Polly."
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