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- Peg O' My Heart - 50/72 -


encored, and the ball was really ended, Peg felt a pang of regret such as she had not felt for a long, long time.

It was the first real note of pleasure she had experienced in England and now it was ended and tomorrow had to be faced and the truth told. What would happen? What course would Mrs. Chichester take? Send her away? Perhaps--and then--? Peg brushed the thought away. At all events she had enjoyed that ones wonderful evening.

"Oh, I am so happy! So happy!" she cried, as Jerry led her back to her seat at the conclusion of the last dance. "Sure the whole wurrld seems to be goin' round and round and round in one grand waltz. It's the first time I've been ralely happy since I came here. And it's been through you! Through you! Thank ye, Jerry."

"I'm glad it has been through me, Peg," said Jerry quietly.

"Faith these are the only moments in life that count--the happy ones. Why can't it always be like this? Why shouldn't we just laugh and dance our way through it all?" went on Peg excitedly. The rhythm of the movement of the dance was in her blood: the lights were dancing before her eyes: the music beat in on her brain.

"I wish I could make the world one great ball-room for you," said Jerry earnestly.

"Do ye?" asked Peg tremulously.

"I do."

"With you as me partner?"

"Yes"

"Dancin' every dance with me?"

"Every one"

"Wouldn't that be beautiful? An' no creepin' back afther it all like a thief in the night?"

"No," replied Jerry. "Your own mistress, free to do whatever you wished."

"Oh," she cried impulsively; "wouldn't that be wondherful!" Suddenly she gave a little elfish chuckle and whispered:

"But half the fun to-night has been that I'm supposed to be sleepin' across beyant there and HERE I am stalin' time" She crooned softly:

"'Sure the best of all WAYS to lengthen our DAYS, Is to stale a few hours from the NIGHT, me dear.'"

"You've stolen them!" said Jerry softly.

"I'm a thief, sure!" replied Peg with a little laugh.

"You're the--the sweetest--dearest--" he suddenly checked himself.

His mother had come across to say "Good night" to Peg. In a few moments his sisters joined them. They all pressed invitations on Peg to call on them at "Noel's Folly" and with Mrs. Chichester's permission, to stay some days.

Jerry got her cloak and just as they were leaving the hall the band struck up again, by special request, and began to play a new French waltz. Peg wanted to go back but Jerry suggested it would be wiser now for her to go home since his mother had driven away.

Back across the meadows and through the lanes, under that marvellous moon and with the wild beat of the Continental Walse echoing from the ball-room, walked Peg and Jerry, side by side, in silence. Both were busy with their thoughts. After a little while Peg whispered:

"Jerry?"

"Peg?"

"What were you goin' to say to me when yer mother came up to us just now?"

"Something it would be better to say in the daylight, Peg."

"Sure, why the daylight? Look at the moon so high in the heavens."

"Wait until to-morrrow."

"I'll not slape a wink thinkin' of all the wondherful things that happened this night. Tell me--Jerry--yer mother and yer sisters-- they weren't ashamed o' me, were they?"

"Why of course not. They were charmed with you."

"Were they? Ralely?"

"Really, Peg."

"Shall I ever see them again?"

"I hope some day you'll see a great deal of them."

They reached the windows leading into the now famous--to Peg-- living-room. He held out his hand:

"Good night, Peg."

"What a hurry ye are in to get rid o' me. An' a night like this may never come again."

Suddenly a quick flash of jealousy startled through her:

"Are ye goin' back to the dance? Are ye goin' to dance the extra ones ye wouldn't take me back for?"

"Not if you don't wish me to."

"Plaze don't," she pleaded earnestly. "I wouldn't rest aisy if I thought of you with yer arm around one of those fine ladies' waists, as it was around mine such a little while ago--an' me all alone here. Ye won't, will ye?"

"No, Peg; I will not."

"An' will ye think o' me?"

"Yes, Peg, I will."

"All the time?"

"All the time."

"An' I will o' you. An' I'll pray for ye that no harm may come to ye, an' that HE will bless ye for makin' me happy."

"Thank you, Peg."

He motioned her to go in. He was getting anxious. Their voices might be heard.

"Must I go in NOW?" asked Peg. "NOW?" she repeated.

"You must."

"With the moon so high in the heavens?"

"Someone might come."

"An' the music comin' across the lawn?"

"I don't want you to get into trouble," he urged.

"All right," said Peg, half resignedly. "I suppose you know best. Good night, Jerry, and thank ye."

"Good night, Peg."

He bent down and kissed her hand reverently.

At the same moment the sound of a high power automobile was heard in the near distance. The brakes were put on and the car came to a stand-still. Then the sound of footsteps was heard distinctly coming toward the windows.

"Take care," cried Jerry. "Go in. Someone is coming."

Peg hurried in and hid just inside the windows and heard every word that followed.

As Peg disappeared Jerry walked down the path to meet the visitor. He came face to face with Christian Brent.

"Hello, Brent," he said in surprise.

"Why, what in the world--?" cried that astonished gentleman.

"The house is asleep," said Jerry, explanatorily.

"So I see," and Brent glanced up at the darkened windows. There was a moment's pause. Then out of the embarrassing silence Jerry remarked:

"Just coming from the dance? I didn't see you there."

"No," replied the uncomfortable Brent. "I was restless and just strolled here."

"Oh! Let us go on to the road."

"Right," said the other man, and they walked on.

Before they had gone a few steps Jerry stopped abruptly. Right in front of him at the gate was a forty-horse-power "Mercedes" automobile.

"Strolled here? Why, you have your car!" said Jerry.

"Yes," replied Brent hurriedly. "It's a bright night for a spin."

The two men went on out of hearing.


Peg O' My Heart - 50/72

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