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- The Whole Family - 38/38 -


Thursday morning.

The house was delightfully quiet, and she was perfection as a hostess. I never passed a pleasanter afternoon. But the evening was interrupted by the arrival of Stillman Dane, who said that he had run up to say good-bye. That seemed quite polite and proper, so I begged them to excuse me, while I went into the den to write some letters. They were long letters.

The next morning Peggy was evidently flustered, but divinely radiant. She said that Mr. Dane had asked her to go driving with him--would that be all right? I told her that I was sure it was perfectly right, but if they went far they would find me gone when they returned, for I had changed my mind and was going down to New York to see the voyagers off. At this Peggy looked at me with tears sparkling in the edge of her smile. Then she put her arms around my neck. "Good-bye," she whispered, "good-bye! YOU'RE A DANDY TOO! Give mother my love--and THAT--and THAT--and THAT!"

"Well, my dear," I answered, "I rather prefer to keep THOSE for myself. But I'll give her your message. And mind this--don't you do anything unless you really want to do it with all your heart. God bless you! Promise?"

"I promise, WITH ALL MY HEART," said she, and then her soft arms were unloosed from my neck and she ran up-stairs. That was the last word I heard from Peggy Talbert.

On Saturday morning all the rest of us were on the deck of the Chromatic by half-past nine. The usual farewell performance was in progress. Charles Edward was expressing some irritation and anxiety over the lateness of Stillman Dane, when that young man quietly emerged from the music-room, with Peggy beside him in the demurest little travelling suit with an immense breast-plate of white violets. Tom Price was the first to recover his voice.

"Peggy!" he cried; "Peggy, by all that's holy!"

"Excuse me," I said, "Mr. and Mrs. Stillman Dane! And I must firmly request every one except Mr. and Mrs. Talbert, senior, to come with me at once to see the second steward about the seats in the dining-saloon."

We got a good place at the end of the pier to watch the big boat swing out into the river. She went very slowly at first, then with astonishing quickness. Charles Edward and Lorraine were standing on the hurricane-deck, Peggy close beside them. Dane had given her his walking-stick, and she had tied her handkerchief to the handle. She was standing up on a chair, with one of his hands to steady her. Her hat had slipped back on her head. The last thing that we could distinguish on the ship was that brave little girl, her red hair like an aureole, waving her flag of victory and peace. "And now," said Maria, as we turned away, "I have a lovely plan. We are all going together to our hotel to have lunch, and after that to the matinee at--"

I knew it was rude to interrupt, but I could not help it.

"Pardon me, dear Maria," I said, "but you have not got it quite right. You and Tom are going to escort Alice and Billy to Eastridge, with such diversions by the way as seem to you appropriate. Your father and mother are going to lunch with me at Delmonico's--but we don't want the whole family."


The Whole Family - 38/38

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