Five Little Peppers Grown Up
Category: Children
Level 4.34 10:00 h
The Five Little Peppers series was written between 1881 and 1916 by Margaret Sidney. The series follows the family with five children that starts with them living together in a small home before their life changes thanks to a wealthy benefactor. Five Little Peppers Grown, published in 1892, is the third book in the series. The book focuses on Polly Pepper, who falls in love while working as a piano teacher.

Five Little Peppers Grown Up

Margaret Sidney

Five Little Peppers Grown Up

Chapter I
Polly Gives Music Lessons

“Miss Pepper — Miss Pepper!”

Polly turned quickly, it was such an anxious little cry.

“What? Oh, Amy Loughead.”

Amy threw herself up against Polly’s gown. “Oh, if I may,” she began, flushing painfully. “You see my brother is coming to-morrow — I’ve a letter — so if you will let me.”

“Let you what?” cried Polly, with a little laugh; “go on, Amy, don’t be afraid.”

“You see it is just this way,” Amy twisted her fingers together, drew her breath hard, and rushed on nervously; “Jack — he’s my brother, you know — promised me — I never told you — if I would only learn to play on the piano, he’d take me to Europe with him next time, and now he’s coming to-morrow, and — and, oh! what shall I do?”

Amy was far gone now, and she ended with a little howl of distress, that brought two or three of the “Salisbury girls” flying in with astonishment.

“Go back,” said Polly to them all, and they ran off as suddenly as they had popped in, to leave Amy and the music teacher alone.

“Now, Amy,” said Polly kindly, getting down on her knees beside the girl where she had thrown herself on the broad lounge, “you must just understand, dear, that I cannot help you unless you will have self-control and be a little woman yourself.”

“You told me I would be sorry if I didn’t practice,” mourned Amy, dragging her wet little handkerchief between her fingers, “but I didn’t suppose Jack was coming for six months, and I’d have time to catch up, and now — oh dear me!” and she burrowed deeper into Miss Salisbury’s big sofa-pillow.

“Take care!” warned Polly, with a ready hand to rescue the elaborate combination of silk and floss, “it would be a very dreadful thing if this should get spoiled.”

Amy Loughead brought her wet cheek off suddenly. “There isn’t a single tear on it, Miss Pepper,” she gasped.

“That’s very fortunate,” said Polly, with a relieved breath. “Well, Amy child, how can I help you?” She sat down now, and drew the girl’s hot little hand within her own.

“I can almost play that horrible ‘Chopin,’” said Amy irrelevantly; “that is, I could, if — oh Miss Pepper,” she broke off suddenly and brought her flushed face very near to the one above her, “could you help me play it — just hear me, you know, and tell me things you did, over again, about it, if I practice all the afternoon? Could you?”

“This evening, do you mean?” asked Polly, a trifle sharply.

“Yes,” said Amy faintly, and twisting her handkerchief. “Oh dear me, I know you’re so tired. What shall I do?”

“But you don’t understand,” cried Polly, vexed with herself that she couldn’t help her annoyance from being seen. “I shall put some one else out if I give up my evening. I have an engagement, Amy. No, I don’t see how I can do it, child; I’m sorry.” And then before she knew how, she put both arms around the little figure. “Don’t cry, dear, I suppose I must. I’ll get out of the other thing. Yes, fly at Chopin, and keep your courage up, and I’ll be over at seven. Then to-morrow Brother Jack will say ‘How fine!’ and off you’ll go over the seas!”

Outside, Polly, after enlisting Miss Salisbury’s favor for the evening’s plan, was hurrying along the pavement, calling herself an hundred foolish names for helping an idle girl out of a scrape. “And to think of losing the only chance to hear D’Albert,” she mourned. “Well, it’s done now, and can’t be helped. Even Jasper when he hears of it, will think me a silly, I suppose. Now to make my peace with Pickering.”

She turned down the avenue running out from the street that had the honor to contain “Miss Salisbury’s Boarding and Day School for Young Ladies,” and met face to face, suddenly, a young man, about whose joy at meeting her, there could be no doubt.

“Oh, Polly!” he cried, “here, let me take that detestable thing!” trying to get the music-roll out of her hand.

“Take care how you talk against this,” cried Polly, hugging it closer. “Indeed you shall not touch it, till you are glad that I am a music teacher. Oh, I must tell you — I was on my way to your house because I was afraid you wouldn’t understand a note. I can’t go to-night.”

“Can’t go to-night?” repeated Pickering, in his astonishment forgetting all his manners. “Why, Polly Pepper, what do you mean?”

“Why, I must give it up,” cried Polly nervously; “don’t ask me — or perhaps I ought to tell you, Pickering, then you’ll see I can’t help myself.” And Polly rapidly unfolded her plan for the evening, omitting all details as to Amy’s careless waste of her lessons despite all efforts to make her practice. At the end of the recital, Pickering Dodge came to a full pause on the sidewalk, regardless of all passers-by, and turned a glowering face on Polly, who was forced to stand still also, and look at him.

“What idiocy!” he exclaimed, “to give up D’Albert for that ignoramus! Polly, are you losing your senses?”

“I don’t know,” said poor Polly, who had lost the first flush of enthusiasm over her plan, and to whom nothing now seemed so delightful as the sight and sound of D’Albert and his wonderful melody. “Well, it’s done, so don’t tempt me to feel badly, Pickering.”

“Indeed, and it’s not done,” said Pickering angrily; “you made the engagement, Polly. I never knew you to break one before,” he added stingingly.

The tears flew into Polly’s brown eyes, and every bit of color deserted her round cheek. “Don’t call it that, Pickering,” she implored, putting out her hand.

“I shall call it just what it is,” declared Pickering, in his stiffest fashion. “It’s a broken engagement, Polly Pepper, nothing more nor less.”

“Then,” said Polly, all her tears dried, “I must go with you, if you hold me to it.” She raised her head, and looked him full in the eyes. “I will be ready,” and she moved off with her most superb air, without deigning a good-by.

“Why, Polly Pepper, what do you mean?”“Why, Polly Pepper, what do you mean?”

“Oh, Polly,” cried Pickering, starting forward to overtake her, “see here, if you very much wish it, why, of course, Polly — Polly, do look around!”

“What do you wish to say?” asked Polly, not looking around as he gained her side.

“Why, of course,” cried Pickering, his words stumbling over each other, “if you can’t go, I’ll — I’ll give it up, and stay at home.”

“And why should you stay at home?” cried Polly, suddenly giving him a glimpse of her face; “you’ve lovely seats; do ask Alexia.”

“Alexia!” exclaimed Pickering angrily. “Indeed I will not. I don’t want any one if I can’t have you, Polly.” He was really miserable now, and needed comfort, so she turned around and administered it as only Polly could.

By the time the talk was over, she hurried off with a radiant face, and Pickering with an expression only one remove from that of absolute gloom, retraced his steps to lay one of “the lovely seats” for the D’Albert concert, before Miss Rhys, for her acceptance.

Phronsie came slowly down the hall to meet Polly as usual; this day with one of her company white gowns on. Polly always knew when these were donned that something unusual was to be expected from the daily routine of the household.

“Are you really and truly home, Polly?” asked Phronsie, taking the music-roll to tuck it under her own arm.

“Yes, Pet;” Polly set a kiss on the red lips. “And I am as hungry as a beaver, Phronsie.”

“So you must be,” said Phronsie, with a little sigh, “for you were so long in coming home. Well, do hurry now, Polly.” This last as Polly was skipping over the stairs to her own room to freshen up a bit. Then Phronsie turned into the dining-room to be quite sure that the butler had made the belated luncheon as fine as Polly could desire it.

“She didn’t ask why I had on this gown,” mused Phronsie, softly disposing again the flowers at Polly’s plate, “and it’s funny, I think, for Polly always sees everything;” and she began to look troubled at once.

Phronsie came slowly down the hall.Phronsie came slowly down the hall.

“This is just as splendid as it can be,” cried Polly, coming in, and picking up one of the roses at her plate. “Phronsie, you are just a dear to have everything so nice,” and she fastened it at her belt. “Why, dear me! You’ve a fine gown on! What is going to happen?”

“And you didn’t see it,” said Phronsie, a bit reproachfully, as she gently smoothed the front breadth of mull.

“Forgive me, dear,” begged Polly. “Well, what is it, Pet? Do tell me; for I’m dying of curiosity, as the Salisbury girls say.”

Phronsie stood up on tiptoe, and achieved Polly’s ear.

“Who do you think is coming to-night?” she whispered impressively.

“To-night? Oh, dear me! I can’t possibly guess,” said Polly, beginning to think that this one evening of all the year held supreme moments for her. “Who is it, Phronsie? do tell me quickly.”

“Well,” said Phronsie, drawing off to see the surprised delight sure to come on Polly’s face, “it’s Jasper himself.”

“Not Jasper?” exclaimed Polly, quite gone with joy. “Oh, Phronsie Pepper, you can’t mean that?”

“But I do,” said Phronsie, forgetting her age, to hop up and down on the rug, “we’ve a letter while you were at the school, and I wasn’t to tell you suddenly, so I put on one of my nice gowns, so you would know.”

“But how could I possibly suppose that Jasper would come now,” cried Polly, seizing Phronsie’s hands to execute one of the old-time dances. “Now I almost know he is going to stay over Christmas.”

“He is — he is!” cried Phronsie in a little scream; “you’ve guessed it, Polly. And Mamsie said — she’s gone down town with Grandpapa; he’s going to get tickets for the concert to-night, so that you can all go together, even if you can’t sit together, and she said that” —

“Oh, Phronsie!” exclaimed Polly in dismay and she stood quite still.

“Aren’t you glad?” asked Phronsie, her joy suddenly hushed.

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