FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS AND HOW THEY GREW
FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS AND HOW THEY GREW
To the Memory of MY MOTHER;
wise in counsel--tender in judgment and in all charity--strengthful
in Christian faith and purpose--I dedicate with reverence this
A HOME VIEW
MAKING HAPPINESS FOR MAMSIE
TROUBLE FOR THE LITTLE BROWN HOUSE
HARD DAYS FOR POLLY
THE CLOUD OVER THE L1TI'LE BROWN HOUSE
A THREATENED BLOW
PHRONSIE PAYS A DEBT OF GRATITUDE
A LETTER TO JASPER
GETTING A CHRISTMAS FOR THE LITTLE ONES
BRAVE WORK AND THE REWARD
POLLY IS COMFORTED
GETTING READY FOR MAMSIE AND THE BOYS
WHICH TREATS OF A GOOD MANY MATTERS
POLLY'S DISMAL MORNING
POLLY'S BIG BUNDLE
FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS
A HOME VIEW
The little old kitchen had quieted down from the bustle and
confusion of mid-day; and now with its afternoon manners on
presented a holiday aspect that as the principal room in the brown
house it was eminently proper it should have. It was just on the
edge of the twilight; and the little Peppers all except Ben the
oldest of the flock were enjoying a "breathing spell" as their
mother called it which meant some quiet work suitable for the
hour. All the "breathing spell" they could remember however
poor things; for times were always hard with them nowadays; and
since the father died when Phronsie was a baby Mrs. Pepper had
had hard work to scrape together money enough to put bread into
her children's mouths and to pay the rent of the little brown house.
But she had met life too bravely to be beaten down now. So with a
stout heart and a cheery face she had worked away day after day at
making coats and tailoring and mending of all descriptions; and
she had seen with pride that couldn't be concealed her noisy
happy brood growing up around her and filling her heart with
comfort and making the little brown house fairly ring with jollity
"Poor things!" she would say to herself "they haven't had any
bringing up; they've just scrambled up!" And then she would set
her lips together tightly and fly at her work faster than ever. "I
must get schooling for them some way but I don't see how!"
Once or twice she had thought "Now the time is coming!" but it
never did: for winter shut in very cold and it took so much more to
feed and warm them that the money went faster than ever. And
then when the way seemed clear again the store changed hands
so that for a long time she failed to get her usual supply of sacks
and coats to make; and that made sad havoc in the quarters and
half-dollars laid up as her nest egg. But---- "Well it'll come some
time" she would say to herself; "because it must!" And so at it
again she would fly brisker than ever.
"To help mother" was the great ambition of all the children older
and younger; but in Polly's and Ben's souls the desire grew so
overwhelmingly great as to absorb all lesser thoughts. Many and
vast were their secret plans by which they were to astonish her at
some future day which they would only confide--as they did
everything else--to one another. For this brother and sister were
everything to each other and stood loyally together through "thick
Polly was ten and Ben one year older; and the younger three of the
"Five Little Peppers" as they were always called looked up to
them with the intensest admiration and love. What they failed to
do couldn't very well be done by any One!
"Oh dear!" exclaimed Polly as she sat over in the corner by the
window helping her mother pull out basting threads from a coat
she had just finished and giving an impatient twitch to the sleeve
"I do wish we could ever have any light--just as much as we want!"
"You don't need any light to see these threads" said Mrs. Pepper
winding up hers carefully as she spoke on an old spool. "Take
care Polly you broke that; thread's dear now."
"I couldn't help it" said Polly vexedly; "it snapped; everything's
dear now it seems to me! I wish we could have--oh! ever an' ever
so many candles; as many as we wanted. I'd light 'em all so there!
and have it light here one night anyway!"
"Yes and go dark all the rest of the year like as anyway"
observed Mrs. Pepper stopping to untie a knot. "Folks who do so
never have any candles" she added sententiously.
"How many'd you have Polly?" asked Joel curiously laying down
his hammer and regarding her with the utmost anxiety.
"Oh two hundred!" said Polly decidedly. "I'd have two hundred
all in a row!"
"Two hundred candles!" echoed Joel in amazement. "My
whockety! what a lot!"
"Don't say such dreadful words Joel" put in Polly nervously
stopping to pick up her spool of basting thread that was racing
away all by itself; "tisn't nice."
"Tisn't worse than to wish you'd got things you haven't" retorted
Joel. "I don't believe you'd light 'em all at once" he added
"Yes I would too!" replied Polly reckessly; "two hundred of 'em
if I had a chance; all at once so there Joey Pepper!"
"Oh" said little Davie drawing a long sigh. "Why 'twould be just
like heaven Polly! but wouldn't it cost money though!"
"I don't care" said Polly giving a flounce in her chair which
snapped another thread; "oh dear me! I didn't mean to mammy;
well I wouldn't care how much money it cost we'd have as much
light as we wanted for once; so!"
"Mercy!" said Mrs. Pepper "you'd have the house afire! Two
hundred candles! who ever heard of such a thing!"
"Would they burn?" asked Phronsie anxiously getting up from the
floor where she was crouching with David overseeing Joel nail on
the cover of an old box; and going to Polly's side she awaited her
"Burn?" said Polly. "There that's done now mamsie dear!" And
she put the coat with a last little pat into her mother's lap. "I guess
they would Phronsie pet." And Polly caught up the little girl and
spun round and round the old kitchen till they were both glad to
"Then" said Phronsie as Polly put her down and stood breathless
after her last glorious spin "I do so wish we might Polly; oh just
this very one minute!"
And Phronsie clasped her fat little hands in rapture at the thought.
"Well" said Polly giving a look up at the old clock in the corner;
"deary me! it's half-past five; and most time for Ben to come
Away she flew to get supper. So for the next few moments nothing
was heard but the pulling out of the old table into the middle of the
floor the laying the cloth and all the other bustle attendant upon
the being ready for Ben. Polly went skipping around cutting the
bread and bringing dishes; only stopping long enough to fling
some scraps of reassuring nonsense to the two~ys who were
thoroughly dismayed at being obliged to remove their traps into a
Phronsie still stood just where Polly left her. Two hundred
oh! what could it mean! She gazed up to the old beams overhead
and around the dingy walls and to the old black stove with the
fire nearly out and then over everything the kitchen contained
trying to think how it would seem. To have it bright and winsome
and warm! to suit Polly--"ohl" she screamed.
"Goodness!" said Polly taking her head out of the old cupboard in
the corner "how you scared me Phronsie!"
"Would they ever go out?" asked the child gravely still standing
where Polly left her.
"What?" asked Polly stopping with a dish of cold potatoes in her
hand. "What Phronsie?"
"Why the candles" said the child "the ever-an'-ever so many
"Oh my senses!" cried Polly with a little laugh "haven't you
forgotten that! Yes--no that is Phronsie if we could have 'em at
all we wouldn't ever let 'em go out!"