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Read Ebook: All that happened in a week by Findlater Jane Helen Petherick Rosa C Illustrator

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Ebook has 354 lines and 19597 words, and 8 pages

One summer afternoon many years ago a child, called Peggy Roberts, arrived at the door of her aunt's house in an open carriage. Peggy was just eight years old. She had been in the train since early in the morning, and was very tired when the carriage stopped at the door of Seafield. Then she noticed that everything round her was new and different from things at home, and she forgot about feeling tired. The house was exactly like the tea-caddy that stood on the dining-room side-board at home, and had been brought from China by her uncle--that is to say, it was quite square, and you felt as if you could lift off the top like the lid of the tea-caddy.

Right up to the windows there grew such a lovely rose-tree, covered all over with branches of bright red roses.

"O Martin, let me get some of the roses!" Peggy cried, standing still on the steps of the house.

Martin was her aunt's maid, a stout, cross-looking woman, who always refused to allow Peggy to do anything she wanted.

"No, no, Miss Peggy, come in for your tea; the roses are far too high up," she said. Peggy looked up at the beautiful dangling branches, and her mouth went down at the corners; she thought nothing would make her happy unless she got one of them.

It must have been because she was so tired that she began to cry about nothing in this way. The coachman was more good-natured than Martin, however, for he stood up on the box of the carriage and gathered a bunch of the roses. "Here, missie," he said, leaning down from his high seat, and handing them to Peggy.

"Oh! oh! oh!" Peggy cried, burying her nose in the lovely red bunch.

But then something horrid happened: a whole family of great, fat, brown earwigs came hurrying and dropping out of the roses, in the greatest speed to get away. Down went the roses on to the steps, and Peggy cried in earnest now.

There was nothing she hated like earwigs, and to have a whole nest of them fall out on her frock was too much for her altogether. And then Martin was so pleased.

"See there, Miss Peggy; that's what you get for wanting to pick flowers!" she said. But she did brush away the earwigs, and stamped upon the biggest of them to Peggy's great disgust. Then they went into the house, and she had to speak to her aunt; and, of course, she had nothing to say to her.

Tea was on the table. A different kind of bread was there from the home-bread Peggy knew. She went and stood beside the table and looked at it, then put out her finger and touched it.

"Don't touch things on the table!" said Aunt Euphemia.

"I'm sorry!" said Peggy, and wanted to cry again. But the door opened, and such an exceedingly nice cat came walking in, just as if the house belonged to it, that she forgot all about crying.

She ran to the cat, and went down on her knees on the carpet to stroke him.

"He is called Patrick," said Aunt Euphemia; "take care that he does not scratch you."

But Patrick did not mean to scratch. He rubbed his big yellow face against Peggy in the most friendly way, and then walked to the tea-table and jumped up on a chair and mewed twice, very loudly, exactly as if he were asking for his tea.

"Patrick is very punctual," said Aunt Euphemia.

She poured out a saucer of milk for him, and put it on the floor. Peggy sat down on the carpet to watch him take it. His little red tongue was so rough and funny, she laughed out aloud at seeing it dart in and out of the milk. Patrick never paused for a minute till he had licked the saucer so dry that you would have thought it had been washed. Then he licked his long, yellow whiskers, and walked away to the other end of the room, jumped on to the sofa, and was fast asleep in a minute. Peggy wanted to waken him, and make him play with her; but Aunt Euphemia wouldn't allow her. As her own tea was brought in at that moment, however, she became interested in it.

Peggy blushed hotly. She knew that she often broke things, but it was horrid of Martin to remind Aunt Euphemia of it just then. She had wanted to take tea out of one of those nice cups with the roses on them; it wouldn't taste a bit nice out of a kitchen cup. But it was of no use to object. Martin always had her way, so the kitchen cup was brought, and an ugly kitchen plate also. It was wonderful how good tea tasted after all, and the strange bread had a nice salt taste, and the strawberry jam was different too. Altogether, Peggy enjoyed tea very much.

When it was done, she went across to the sofa to see what Patrick was doing. He opened his green eyes, and looked at her sleepily. One of his paws was lying out on the cushion. Peggy took it up in her hand and felt the funny little pads of black skin on his feet. She knew, because she had a cat at home, that if you give a cat's paw ever such a tiny squeeze with your hand, its claws pop out from between the little pads of black skin. She had sometimes done it to old Tuffy at home; so she gave Patrick's paw the tiniest squeeze possible, just to see the claws slide out from their sheaths. But instead of receiving this in Tuffy's kind way, Patrick put out his paw in a furious rage at her, and buried all his claws in her arm. Oh, what a howl Peggy gave, and what long, red scratches appeared down her arm! Then Patrick jumped down from his pillow with an angry fizz, and walked out of the room.

Aunt Euphemia rang the bell without a word.

"Martin," she said, "put Miss Peggy to bed; she has been teasing Patrick!"

And Peggy, sobbing with pain, went off to bed.

You will not have read even as much as this without finding out that Peggy was always getting into trouble. And indeed it was her nature to do so, poor dear, though it seldom was through any serious fault on her part. The first evening of her visit to Seafield had ended in this fight with Patrick, and the next morning something much worse happened. I must tell you all about it.

The sun was shining very brightly next morning, and Peggy felt as happy as possible. On the way downstairs she met Patrick; and because she was very sweet-tempered and forgiving, she sat down on the top step at once, and held out her hand to him--a little warily, of course.

She was delighted to see that Patrick, too, wanted to be on friendly terms. He came and rubbed his head against her and purred. So they made it up, and Peggy ran downstairs.

"May I play in the garden, auntie?" she asked at breakfast.

Aunt Euphemia considered for a moment. "Yes, if you do not leave the garden, and do not tread upon the flower-beds, or gather the flowers," she answered at last.

Peggy did not much mind these regulations. It looked so delightful out there in the sunshine that she wanted nothing else. So when breakfast was over, she ran out and began to wander about, looking at all the new things--quite new most of them were to her. Different flowers grew here from those that filled the garden at home, and they were so nice to smell, even if she might not pick them. In one corner grew a bush of a great feathery shrub that she had never seen before. She walked round and round it, and longed to have one of the long feathery switches for a wand, such as fairies use.

Just as she was thinking how much she would like this, a young man came across the lawn with the mowing-machine. He looked good-natured, Peggy thought, and she wondered if she might ask him about the wand. She did not know his name, however, and felt a little shy. She stood still, with her finger in her mouth , and watched him while he poured oil into the little holes of the mowing-machine. Then she summoned up courage to speak to him.

"Man," she said, in a very shy voice--"man, I would like one of these branches for a fairy-wand; do you think I might have one?" She pointed to the bush.

He looked up with a grunt and a laugh, flung down the oil-can, and drew a big clasp-knife out of his pocket. "One o' thae yins?" he asked in a kind voice.

She nodded, and pointed to the branch she specially desired.

"What's your name, please?" she asked.

"James, missie," he said, hacking away at the branch while he spoke, and in a minute he handed her the lovely long spray she had wanted.

Oh, what a wand it was!--longer a great deal than herself, and so supple that it bent just like a whip.

"See here, missie," said James; "ye'll no can manage it that way; I'll peel it to ye." He took the branch and began peeling off the outer skin till it showed a satin-like white wood.

"Oh, let me peel!" cried Peggy; and together they peeled away till the branch was bare--all except a beautiful bunch like a green tassel at the tip.

With this in her hand, Peggy walked away across the lawn, and you may fancy how delightful it was. She pretended she was a fairy queen, and a touch of her wand would do whatever she chose. She walked about muttering charms to the flowers, and then saw her friend Patrick lying on a bank. She graciously extended the tip of her wand to him, and he played with it for a minute quite like a kitten.

But then it struck her that she would walk round the house. And outside one of the windows she saw the funniest thing hanging. It looked like a little bottle made of flimsy gray paper. She wondered what it could possibly be; and standing right under it, she poked up her hand and tickled the mouth of the gray-paper bottle. The next moment, she heard a terrible buzzing noise, and a cloud of wasps came flying down upon her. Peggy never knew what she did. Down went the wand, and she screamed aloud, for the wasps were stinging her all over her hands and face. The next moment James came running up the bank to her. He caught her up in his arms and ran across the lawn. They both seemed surrounded and followed by the wasps, and a new sting came on poor Peggy's face or neck every moment. There was a gate in the garden wall, and James ran to the gate, opened it, and crossed the road. The next minute Peggy saw that he was wading into the sea with her and dipping her under the water.

The wasps fell away in the distance, an angry, buzzing, black cloud; and poor Peggy, more dead than alive, found herself being carried back to the house, all her clothes dripping with the salt water. James was dripping too, and moving his head in a queer way as if his neck hurt him.

Though it was only ten o'clock in the morning, Peggy was glad enough to be put to bed at once when she got back to the house. Martin and Aunt Euphemia rubbed all her stings with washing-blue and earth, and after that the worst of the pain went out of them. But how Peggy's head did begin to ache! Then she got sleepy, and had funny dreams, and woke up crying, and couldn't eat the nice dinner Martin brought up to her. Martin was quite kind too, and tried to get her to eat; but it was no use--she did not want anything. It was very hot too--oh, so hot, Peggy couldn't lie still, and tumbled about in bed. At last, just when she was so hot that she sat up to see if that would make her cooler, Aunt Euphemia came in, bringing with her a strange man, who laid Peggy down on the pillows again, and took hold of her wrist with one hand, while he held his watch in the other.

"This is the doctor, Peggy," said Aunt Euphemia in explanation.

"Do the stings hurt you still, Peggy?" he asked, pulling up her sleeves to look at the marks on her arm. But Peggy scarcely knew what hurt her most, her head was so sore, and she felt so sick.

"I am going to make you quite well," the doctor said; "but you must take something nasty first."

He looked at Peggy and laughed.

Aunt Euphemia looked very stern. "I will make her take it!" she said.

"Oh, Peggy is too good to need to be made to take things, I'm sure," said the doctor.

Peggy sat up suddenly in bed.

"Very well; here it is," he said, shaking a powder into a glass, and holding it out to Peggy.

Aunt Euphemia expected her to taste it and declare she couldn't take it; but Peggy drank the medicine right off without a word, and lay down again.

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