Five Little Peppers Abroad by Margaret Sidney
"We Will Come Again And Stay A Week"
They had been several days at The Hague, running about in a restful way in the morning, and driving all the long golden afternoons. "Don't you dare to go into a picture-gallery or a museum until I give the word," Grandpapa had laid down the law. "I'm not going to begin by being all tired out." So Polly and Jasper had gone sometimes with Mr. King and Phronsie, who had a habit of wandering off by themselves; or, as the case might be, Mr. Henderson would pilot them about till they learnt the ways of the old town. And Mrs. Fisher and Mrs. Henderson would confess now and then that they would much rather take a few stitches and overlook the travelling clothes than do any more sight-seeing. And then again, they would all come together and go about in a big party. All but Dr. Fisher--he was for hospitals every time.
"That's what I've come for, wife," he would reply to all remonstrance, "and don't ask me to put my head into a cathedral or a museum." To Mr. King, "Land alive, man, I've got to find out how to take care of living bodies before I stare at bones and relics," and Mr. King would laugh and let him alone. "He's incorrigible, that husband of yours, Mrs. Fisher," he would add, "and we must just let him have his way." And Mamsie would smile, and every night the little doctor would tome from his tramps and medical study, tired but radiant.
At last one morning Grandpapa said, "Now for Scheveningen to-day!"
"Oh, goody!" cried Polly, clapping her hands; then blushed as red as a rose. They were at breakfast, and everybody in the vicinity turned and stared at their table.
"Don't mind it, Polly," said Jasper, her next neighbour, "I want to do the same thing. And it will do some of those starched and prim people good to hear a little enthusiasm." Polly knew whom he meant,--some young Englishmen. One of them immediately put up his monocle and regarded her as if she had been a new kind of creature displayed for his benefit. Jasper glared back at him.
"Yes, we'll go to Scheveningen this morning," repeated Mr. King, smiling approvingly at poor Polly, which caused her to lift her head; "the carriages are ordered, so as soon as we are through breakfast we will be off."
"Oh, father," exclaimed Jasper, in dismay, "must we go in carriages?"
"How else would you go, Jasper?" asked his father.
"Oh, by the tramway; oh, by all means," cried Jasper, perfectly delighted that he could get his father even to listen to any other plan.
"The dirty tram-cars," ejaculated Mr. King, in disgust. "How can you ask it, Jasper? No, indeed, we must go in carriages, or not at all."
"But, father," and Jasper's face fell, "don't you see the upper deck of the tram-car is so high and there are fine seats there, and we can see so much better than driving in a stupid carriage?"
Polly's face had drooped, too. Mr. King, in looking from one to the other, was dismayed and a good bit annoyed to find that his plan wasn't productive of much happiness after all. He had just opened his mouth to say authoritatively, "No use, Jasper, either you will go in the way I have provided, or stay at home," when Phronsie slipped out of her chair where she happened this morning to be sitting next to Mother Fisher, and running around to his chair, piped out, "Oh, Grandpapa, if you please, do let us sit up top."
"We'll do it now, Polly," whispered Jasper, in a transport, "when Phronsie looks like that. See her face!"
"Do you really want to go in a dirty old tram-car, Phronsie, instead of in a carriage?" Old Mr. King pushed back his chair and looked steadily at her.
"Oh, yes, yes, Grandpapa, please"--Phronsie beat her hands softly together--"to ride on top; may we, dear Grandpapa?" That "dear Grandpapa" settled it. Jasper never heard such a welcome command as that Mr. King was just issuing. "Go to the office and countermand the order for the carriages, my son; tell them to put the amount on my bill, the same as if I'd used them, unless they get a chance to let them to some one else. They needn't be the losers. Now then," as Jasper bounded off to execute the command, "get on your bonnets and hats, all of you, and we'll try this wonderful tram-car. I suppose you won't come with us, but will stay behind for the pleasures of some hospital here," he added to Dr. Fisher.
"On the contrary," said the little doctor, throwing down his napkin and getting out of his chair. "I am going, for there is a marine hospital for children there, that I wouldn't miss for the world."
"I warrant you would find one on a desert island," retorted old Mr. King. "Well, hurry now, all of you--and we will be off."
"Now, then, all scramble up here. Phronsie, you go with me," cried old Mr. King, as they stood in plein, and the tram-car halted before them. He was surprised to find that he liked this sort of thing, mixing with a crowd and hurrying for seats just like common ordinary individuals. And as he toiled up the winding stairs, Phronsie in front of him, he had an exhilaration already that made him feel almost as young as Polly and Jasper, scampering up the circular stairway at the other end. "Well, bless me, we are up, aren't we?" he exclaimed, sitting down and casting a glance around.
"Did you ever see anything so fascinating?" cried Polly Pepper, clasping her hands in delight, and not stopping to sit down, but looking all around.
"You had better sit down," advised Mother Fisher, "else when the car starts you may go over the railing."
"Oh, I can't fall, Mamsie," said Polly, carelessly, yet she sat down, while Jasper got out of his seat and ran up to old Mr. King.
"Now, father, don't you like it?" he cried. "And isn't it better than a stuffy old carriage?"
"Yes, I do, my boy," answered his father, frankly. "Now run off with you, you've planned it well." So Jasper, made happy for the day, rushed back to his seat. A hand not over clean was laid on it, and a tall individual, who was pouring out very bad provincial French at a fearful rate, was just about to worm himself into it. Polly, who sat next, had turned around to view the scenery from the other side, and hadn't seen his advance.
"Excuse me," said Jasper, in another torrent of the same language, only of a better quality, "this is my seat--I only left it to speak to my father."
But the Frenchman being there, thought that he could get still further into the seat. So he twisted and edged, but Jasper slipped neatly in, and looked calmly up at him. The Frenchman, unable to get his balance, sat down in Jasper's lap. But he bounded up again, blue with rage.
"What's all this?" demanded Mr. King, who never could speak French in a hurry, being very elegant at it, and exceedingly careful as to his accent. Phronsie turned pale and clung to his hand.
"Nothing," said Jasper, in English, "only this person chose to try to take my seat, and I chose to have it myself."
"You take yourself off," commanded Mr. King, in an irate voice to the French individual, "or I'll see that some one attends to your case."
Not understanding the language, all might have gone well, but the French person could interpret the expression of the face under the white hair, and he accordingly left a position in front of Jasper to sidle up toward Mr. King's seat in a threatening attitude. At that Jasper got out of his seat again and went to his father's side. Little Dr. Fisher also skipped up.
"See here you, Frenchy, stop your parley vousing, and march down those stairs double quick," cried the little doctor, standing on his tiptoes and bristling with indignation. His big spectacles had slipped to the end of his nose, his sharp little eyes blazing above them.
"Frenchy" stared at him in amazement, unable to find his tongue. And then he saw another gentleman in the person of the parson, who was just as big as the doctor was small. With one look he glanced around to see if there were any more such specimens. At any rate, it was time to be going, so he took a bee-line for the nearest stairway and plunged down. But he gave the little doctor the compliment of his parting regard.
"Well," ejaculated Mr. King, when his party had regained their seats and the car started off, "if this is to be the style of our companions, I think my plan of carriages might be best after all. Eh, my boy?" with a sly look at Jasper.
"But anything like this might not happen again in a hundred times, father," said Jasper.
"I suppose I must say 'yes, I know it' to that," said his father. And as everybody had regained composure, he was beginning to feel very happy himself as the car rumbled off.
"This is fine," he kept saying to himself, "the boy knew what was best," and he smiled more than once over at Jasper, who was pointing out this and that to Polly. Jasper nodded back again.
"Don't let him bother you to see everything, Polly," called Grandpapa. "Take my advice--it's a nuisance to try to compass the whole place on the first visit." But Polly laughed back, and the advice went over her head, as he very well knew it would.
"Was anything ever more beautiful?" exclaimed Mother Fisher, drawing in long breaths of delight. The little doctor leaned back in his seat, and beamed at her over his big glasses. She began to look rested and young already. "This journey is the very thing," he declared to himself, and his hard-worked hand slipped itself over her toil-worn one as it lay on her lap. She turned to him with a smile.
"Adoniram, I never imagined anything like this," she said simply.
"No more did I," he answered. "That's the good of our coming, wife."
"Just see those beautiful green trees, so soft and trembling," she exclaimed, as enthusiastically as Polly herself. "And what a perfect arch!" And she bent forward to glance down the shaded avenue. "Oh, Adoniram!"
"What makes the trunks look so green?" Polly was crying as they rumbled along. "See, Jasper, there isn't a brown branch, even. Everything is green."
"That's what makes it so pretty," said Jasper. "I don't wonder these oaks in the Scheveningsche Boschjes--O dear me, I don't know how to pronounce it in the least--are so celebrated."
"Don't try," said Polly, "to pronounce it, Jasper. I just mark things in my Baedeker and let it go."
"Our Baedekers will be a sight when we get home, won't they, Polly?" remarked Jasper, in a pause, when eyes had been busy to their utmost capacity.
"I rather think they will," laughed Polly. "Mine is a sight now, Jasper, for I mark all round the edges--and just everywhere."
"But you are always copying off the things into your journal," said Jasper, "afterward. So do I mark my Baedeker; it's the only way to jot things down in any sort of order. One can't be whipping out a note-book every minute. Halloo, here we are at the château of the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar. Look, Polly! look!"
As they looked back in the distance to the receding ducal estate, Polly said: "It isn't one-half as beautiful as this delicious old wood is, Jasper. Just see that perfectly beautiful walk down there and that cunning little trail. Oh, I do so wish we could stay here."
"Some day, let us ask Dr. Fisher to come out with us, and we will tramp it. Oh, I forgot; he won't leave the hospitals."
"Mr. Henderson might like to," said Polly, in a glow, "let's ask him sometime, anyway, Jasper. And then, just think, we can go all in and out this lovely wood. How fine!"
"Father will come over to Scheveningen again and stay a few days, maybe," said Jasper, "if he takes a fancy to the idea. How would you like that, Polly?"
"I don't know," said Polly, "because I haven't seen it yet, Jasper."
"I know--I forgot--'twas silly in me to ask such a question," said Jasper, with a laugh. "Well, anyway, I think it more than likely that he will."
"I just love The Hague," declared Polly, with a backward glance down the green avenue. "I hope we are going to stay there ever so long, Jasper."
"Then we sha'n't get on to all the other places," said Jasper. "We shall feel just as badly to leave every other one, I suppose, Polly."
"I suppose so," said Polly, with a sigh.
When they left the tram-car at the beginning of the village of Scheveningen they set off on a walk down to the Curhaus and the beach. Old Mr. King, as young as any one, started out on the promenade on the undulating terrace at the top of the Dunes, followed by the rest of his party.
Down below ran a level road. "There is the Boulevard," said Grandpapa. "See, child," pointing to it; but Phronsie had no eyes for anything but the hundreds and hundreds of Bath chairs dotting the sands.
"Oh, Grandpapa, what are they?" she cried, pulling his hand and pointing to them.
"Those are chairs," answered Mr. King, "and by and by we will go down and get into some of them."
"They look just like the big sunbonnets that Grandma Bascom always wore when she went out to feed her hens, don't they, Jasper?"
"Precisely," he said, bursting into a laugh. "How you always do see funny things, Polly."
"And see what queer patches there are all up and down the sides of some of them," cried Polly. "Whatever can they be, Jasper?"
"Oh, those are the advertisements," said Jasper. "You'll find that everything is plastered up in that way abroad."
"Just as the omnibuses in London are all covered over with posters," said Polly; "weren't they funny, Jasper?"
"Yes, indeed,--'Lipton Teas,'--I got so tired of that. And these,--cocoa or chocolate. You know Holland is full of manufactories of it."
"And isn't it good?" cried Polly, smacking her lips, as she had feasted on it since their arrival in Holland, Grandpapa considering it especially good and pure.
"I should say so," echoed Jasper, smacking his lips, too.
"Dr. Fisher--" The parson turned to address his neighbour, but there was no little doctor.
"Oh, he is off long ago," said his wife, "to his beloved hospital. What is it, Samuel?"
"I was only going to remark that I don't believe I ever saw so many people together before. Just look!" he pointed down to the Boulevard and off to the sands along the beach.
"It is a swarm, isn't it?" said his wife. "Well, we must go, for Mr. King is going down to the Boulevard."
Polly and Jasper, running in and out of the fascinating shops by the Concert terrace, had minds divided by the desire to stay on the sands, and to explore further the tempting interiors. "We must get something for the boys," she declared, jingling her little silver purse; "just let us go in this one now, then we'll run after Grandpapa; he's going down on the sands."
"He's going to sit with Phronsie in some of those big sunbonnets of yours, Polly," said Jasper. "There they are," pointing to them. "Well, we'll go in this shop. I want to get a pair of those wooden shoes for Joel." And they hurried in.
"Oh, how fine!" exclaimed Polly. "Well, I saw a carved bear I think Davie would like, and--" the rest was lost in the confusing array of tempting things spread out for their choice by deft shopkeepers.
When they emerged, Polly had a china windmill, and an inkstand of Delft ware, and several other things, and Jasper carried all the big bundles. "O dear me," said Polly, "now we must run, or we sha'n't have much time to stay on the beach; and besides, Grandpapa will worry over us if we're not there."
"We can't run much, loaded down with this," said Jasper, looking at his armful and laughing, "or we'd likely drop half of them, and smash them to pieces. Wait a bit, Polly, I'm going to buy you some fruit." They stopped at the top of the stone stairway leading down to the sands, where some comely peasant women, fishermen's wives, held great baskets of fruit, and in one hand was a pair of scales. "Now, then, what will you have, Polly?"
"Oh, some grapes, please, Jasper," said Polly. "Aren't they most beautiful?"
"I should say they were; they are black Hamburgs," declared Jasper. "Now, then, my good woman, give us a couple of pounds." He put down the coin she asked for, and she weighed them out in her scales, and did them up in a piece of a Dutch newspaper.
"We are much worse off now, Jasper," laughed Polly, as they got over the stairs somehow with their burdens, "since we've all these grapes to carry. O dear me, there goes one!"
"Never mind," said Jasper, looking over his armful of presents, to investigate his paper of grapes; "if we don't lose but one, we're lucky."
"And there goes another," announced Polly, as they picked their way over and through the thick sand.
"Well, I declare," exclaimed old Mr. King, peering out of his Bath chair, "if you children aren't loaded down!" He was eating black Hamburg grapes. Phronsie sat opposite him almost lost in the depth of another Bath chair, similarly occupied. And at a little remove was the remainder of the party, and they all were in Bath chairs, and eating black Hamburg grapes.
"We've had such fun," sighed Polly, and she and Jasper cast their bundles on the soft sand; then she threw herself down next to them, and pushed up the little brown rings from her damp brow.
Jasper set his paper of grapes in her lap, then rushed off. "I'll get you a Bath chair," he said, beckoning to the attendant.
"Oh, Jasper, I'd so much rather sit on the sand," called Polly.
"So had I," he confessed, running back and throwing himself down beside her. "Now, then, do begin on your grapes, Polly."
"We'll begin together," she said, poking open the paper. "Oh, aren't they good, though!"
"I should rather say they were," declared Jasper; "dear me, what a bunch!"
"It's not as big as mine," said Polly, holding up hers to the light. "You made me take that one, Jasper."
"It's no better than mine," said Jasper, eating away.
"I'm going to hop into one of the chairs just a minute before we go," said Polly, nodding at the array along the beach, and eating her grapes busily, "to see how they feel."
"Oh, Polly, let me get you a chair now," begged Jasper, setting down the remainder of his bunch of grapes, and springing up.
"Oh, I don't want to, I really and truly don't, Jasper," Polly made haste to cry. "I like the sand ever and ever so much better. I only want to see for a minute what it's like to be in one of those funny old things. Then I should want to hop out with all my might, I just know I should."
"I'm of your mind," said Jasper, coming back to his seat on the sand again. "They must be very stuffy, Polly. Well, now you are here, would you like to come back to Scheveningen for a few days, Polly?"
"I think I should," said Polly, slowly, bringing her gaze around over the sea, to the Dunes, the beach, with the crowds of people of all nationalities, and the peasant folk, "if we could stay just as long, for all that, at the dear old Hague."
And just then old Mr. King was saying to Phronsie, "We will come out here again, child, and stay a week. Yes," he said to himself, "I will engage the rooms before we go back this afternoon."
"Grandpapa," asked Phronsie, laying her hand on his knee, "can I have this very same little house next time we come?"
"Well, I don't know," said Mr. King, peering up and down Phronsie's Bath chair adorned with the most lively descriptions of the merits of cocoa as a food; "they're all alike as two peas, except for the matter of the chocolate and cocoa trimmings. But perhaps I can fix it, Phronsie, so that you can have this identical one," mentally resolving to do that very thing. "Well, come, Phronsie, we must go now and get our luncheon."
"I am so glad if I can have the same little house," said Phronsie, with a sigh of contentment, as she slowly got out of her Bath chair. "It is a nice little house, Grandpapa, and I love it very much."